Texas checks in at No. 8 in the Associated Press preseason poll for women’s basketball, the Longhorns’ best starting position since 2004, when they were ranked No. 2.
Notre Dame, Baylor, Connecticut and South Carolina will open the season ranked Nos. 1-4, respectively. The goal for Texas is the Final Four next March in Dallas.
How close are the Longhorns to becoming national championship contenders?
“I think we’re really close to being there,” said Texas coach Karen Aston, who enters her fifth season with an overall record of 89-46 with the Longhorns.
“Everyone wants to know, ‘What are the question marks about the team?’ When you look at the roster, you see a lot of high school All-Americans, you see a lot of athletic ability, you see two returning guards who scored a lot of points for you last year,” Aston said. “You see tons and tons of positives.”
Someone you won’t see is 6-7 post Imani Boyette, a four-year standout who recently finished her first season with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.
Kelsey Lang, a 6-5 senior, is Texas’ tallest and most experienced front court player. She will be supported by three newcomers who will make a quick impact, including 6-3 freshman Joyner Holmes, who was the No. 2-rated high school prospect in the nation.
Twin sisters Khaléann and Audrey Caron-Goudreau are 6-4 transfers who lend size and muscle inside the paint. Khaléann is a redshirt sophomore who sat out a season after transferring from Vanderbilt; Audrey is a junior who played at Gulf Coast State College last season after transferring from Vanderbilt.
With high expectations, Texas has a brutal schedule, beginning Nov. 14 at No. 11 Stanford, a game that will be televised by ESPN. The Horns also play seven more teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 — No. 2 Baylor, No. 3 Connecticut, No. 4 South Carolina, No. 10 Mississippi State, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 22 West Virginia.
“As a team we will be more prepared just because we’ll have more people who have been in situations that obviously require everything you have to give,” Lang said. “I think that coach Aston, through our practices, will get us to that point and where we need to be in the next few weeks.”
Where Texas is ranked in various women’s basketball preseason polls:
Associated Press: 8th
USA Today Coaches: T-6th
Sporting News: 5th