Rand Rasmussen hates preseason rankings.
It's not that the Bingham Miners girls basketball coach has anything against the opinions of other coaches, he just believes the votes are based more on what a team accomplished last year than what they're capable of this season.
"We're not the same team," said Rasmussen, whose Miners were voted No. 1 in a preseason poll of coaches. "I don't think we're anywhere near the top four teams. Give me back (Megan) Marks, (Lexie) Phillips, (Stephanie) Sampson, (Cami) Hymas and (Jessica) Palmer and I'll take the ranking."
The defending 5A champions do return junior point guard and last year's 5A Tournament MVP, Nicole Yazzie, as well as senior forward Erica Newbold (who signed with UVSC). They are 7-0 with wins over teams like Alta and Weber. Still, Rasmussen believes the Miners have a lot of work ahead of them.
"We're not as good defensively as we were last year," said Rasmussen.
Skyline was voted No. 2 in the preseason polls, and the Eagles are also undefeated thus far with a 7-0 record. In fact, behind senior center Dani Peterson and senior point guard Jenteal Jackson, the Eagles are crushing most of their opponents, including Fremont and Box Elder.
In addition to Jackson and Peterson (both of whom committed to BYU) Skyline will benefit from athletes like forward Upuia Fui, guard Katie Walker and forward Kelsey Krogen.
"We just want to keep getting better," said Skyline head coach Deb Bennett. Adds her assistant Natalie Williams, "We want to be No. 1 at the end."
Peterson is leading the state in scoring with 25 points per game and is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds in the team's seven games.
Davis was voted No. 3 in preseason polls, but the Darts have already fallen in the rankings. They have plenty of talent, but are still trying to find the right combination of players. The squad is led by future SUU player and senior guard Dani Hosking, as well as senior forward Allison Blake and senior guard Kelsey Campbell.
The Lone Peak Knights were voted No. 4 and are a squad that has the ability to run or set a half-court offense and beat a team with its inside-outside game.
"We're an up-tempo team," said coach Keith Flood. "We've got a lot of size ... but we've got to run the floor. We have our goals, and we're excited about this season."
The Knights have crushed most of their opponents, including Brighton and Jordan. Lone Peak is 8-0 behind the play of senior forward Amanda Farish, senior guard Shantel Flanary and athletic, poised freshman Marquelle Funk.
Fremont was voted No. 5 in the preseason poll after making it to the final four last year.
The Silver Wolves suffered a setback when head coach Larry Hadley had to have back surgery. Then, when he attempted to come back to the gym, he got pneumonia and has missed most of the preseason recovering.
The Silver Wolves will be tough as they return most of last year's team including, senior Jordan Smith, junior Rachel Roberts, junior Erica Nish, senior Kami Johnson and senior Brittany Harris.
American Fork wasn't voted in the top five of the preseason poll but has already broken into the rankings with a 7-0 record. The Cavemen are led by junior guard Cydne Mason, junior guard/forward Haley Holmstead, junior guard Kaycee Mansfield and sophomore guard Amy Krommenhoek.
Riverton is another squad that could make the title race interesting, as could Alta or Layton. The only sure thing is that there are about a half dozen teams that could claim that title trophy in March."It's a dogfight if you ask me," said Rasmussen. "It's not going to be between one or two teams like it has sometimes in years past. There are five or six teams that could be there at the end."