Cal Poly

Cal Poly women picked second in the Big West basketball race

The Cal Poly women’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the Big West Conference, while the men were tabbed fifth by members of the media Thursday.

Women’s senior forward Kristina Santiago emerged as a force in the conference last year, leading the Big West in scoring (19.6), while ranking second in rebounding (8.5), field goal percentage (.541) and steals (2.41) en route to being named the conference’s player of the year.

Santiago was named among the six players on the preseason all-conference team.

Cal Poly (18-11 in 2009) received four first-place votes and 183 points in the women’s poll, trailing favorite UC Davis, which got 16 first place votes and 210 points. UC Riverside, which finished third in the poll got two first-place votes, while UC Santa Barbara was fourth and got the final three first-place votes.

On the men’s side, the Mustangs (12-19 in 2009) picked up 96 points, well behind the 204 of defending champion UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos received 20 of 23 first-place votes. Long Beach State was second with 180 points and two first-place votes, while Pacific finished third and received the final first-place vote.

Cal Poly will have numerous new faces on the court in head coach Joe Callero’s second season and will be without guards Amaurys Fermin and Kyle Odister, who were lost to injuries before the season began.

The Mustangs will be a relatively young team entering the season, returning just two seniors — Shawn Lewis and Will Taylor — from last season’s team.

The Cal Poly women will begin the season on Nov. 12 at Seattle, while the men open against the Redhawks two days later.