UO received 19 of 22 first-place votes in media poll, Ionescu and Hebard on preseason all-conference team

The Oregon women’s basketball team was picked to repeat as Pac-12 champions in the media poll released Tuesday.

After winning their first regular-season conference title in 18 years and cutting down the nets at the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in program history, the Ducks received 19 of the 22 first-place votes.

Stanford (2) and Oregon State (1) received the other first-place votes and are picked to finish second and third, respectively.

This marks the first time Oregon, which was also picked first in the coaches poll, has been voted the preseason favorite by the media.

Coach Kelly Graves returns four starters, including All-Americans Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard, who were both voted preseason all-Pac-12 for the second consecutive year, along with California’s Kristine Anigwe, Oregon State’s Destiny Slocum and Stanford’s Alanna Smith.

The Ducks set a school record with 33 wins and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season last year.

Ionescu, the reigning Pac-12 player of the year, averaged 19.7 points, 7.8 assists and 6.7 rebounds last season. Hebard is one of the top post players in the nation and has expanded her interior repertoire after averaging 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds as a sophomore.

Oregon also returns senior guard Maite Cazorla and 2018 Pac-12 freshman of the year Satou Sabally. Notre Dame transfer Erin Boley, a former national high school player of the year, will replace Lexi Bando in the starting lineup.

“Everyone knows the drills, everyone knows what to expect, we’re talking a lot more,” Ionescu said of returning such an experienced starting unit. “I think the veterans are definitely helping and the vibe is definitely different than it’s been. We’re all eager to get back out there and play.”

The Ducks open the season Nov. 6 at Alaska-Fairbanks and will play Syracuse in the home opener Nov. 10.

Oregon is expected to be ranked in the top five of the Associated Press preseason poll, which will be released Wednesday.