Utah State Men's Basketball Picked Fifth In Mountain West Preseason Media Poll
Oct. 8, 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Utah State men's basketball has been picked fifth in the 2013-14 Mountain West Conference Preseason Media Poll, as selected by a voting panel comprised of Conference media and announced Tuesday morning at the league's preseason media days, held at the league office in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Defending Mountain West regular-season and tournament champion New Mexico is the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the MW men's basketball regular-season title again in 2013-14. The Lobos received 23 of 24 first-place votes and 263 points to garner the top spot in the poll. UNLV claimed the remaining first-place vote and 214 points to tie with Boise State at the second spot, while San Diego State garnered 212 points for the No. 4 spot.
Mountain West newcomer Utah State collected 156 points for fifth, followed by Colorado State in sixth (142 points) and Wyoming (112 points) in seventh. Rounding out the poll were Fresno State (96 points) in eighth, Nevada (84 points) in ninth, Air Force (61 points) in 10th and MW newcomer San José State (30 points) in 11th.
"The first thing I'd say is that it's a little odd," USU head coach Stew Morrill said about being picked fifth. "We're used to being picked pretty high in the polls in the past. It was a different situation and a different league, but I'm always trying to tell our players that it's tradition, that's why we get picked to win the league. So it's different. When you talk about fifth and there's 11 teams, it's hard to decide what you think about that. Are we thought of as not being as good as the top of the league and not as bad as the bottom of the league? Are we just considered average? I don't think it really all matters. I think it's kind of fun for everybody to talk about, but the reality is that we've got to prove that we belong. I've been saying that all along since we got into the Mountain West. We've got to prove that we're competitive first and if we prove that, we have to prove we can contend and try and be a team that's up with the top of the league. You've got to be competitive before you can be a contender."
The MW also announced a Preseason all-Mountain West team, and due to a tie in the balloting, six players were chosen, led by Preseason Player of the Year, New Mexico senior guard Kendall Williams. Also on the preseason team was New Mexico junior center Alex Kirk, along with Boise State junior guards Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks, as well as Nevada senior guard Deonte Burton and UNLV junior forward Khem Birch.
San Diego State senior forward Josh Davis garnered Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades, while UNLV guard Kendall Smith was tabbed as the Preseason Freshman of the Year.
Last season, the Mountain West sent a league-record five teams to the NCAA Tournament, and the league was ranked as the number one RPI conference in the country. With five of its nine teams earning bids to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Mountain West had the highest percentage at 56 percent of its teams included in the Big Dance of any of the 31 conferences. The Mountain West was also one of six conferences with five or more teams participating in March Madness in 2013.
The 2013-14 MW Men's Basketball Preseason Poll and the Preseason all-Mountain West Conference team were announced Tuesday morning, at the start of the league's annual media days on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 8-9. The league's 11 coaches will visit with local, regional and national media, as well as film Mountain West commercials and PSAs.
USU head coach Stew Morrill is part of the six coaches who will be in action on Tuesday, joined by Air Force's Davie Pilipovish, Boise State's Leon Rice, Nevada's David Carter, San José State's Davie Wojcik and New Mexico's Craig Neal. On Wednesday, Fresno State's Rodney Terry, Colorado State's Larry Eustachy, UNLV's Dave Rice, Wyoming's Larry Shyatt and San Diego State's Steve Fisher will have their turn.
UtahStateAggies.com will be with Morrill throughout Tuesday's events, providing insight on this year's event with releases on where Utah State will be picked to finish in the Mountain West during the 2013-14 season, along with photos and press conference video.
Fans can also stay up-to-date on all the events during the MW Men's Basketball Media Days via the Aggie men's basketball program on Twitter at twitter.com/AggieHoops, or through USU Athletics' four social media platforms on Twitter at twitter.com/USUAthletics, on Facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics, on Instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics, or YouTube at youtube.com/UtahStateAthletics.
The Aggies are in their inaugural season in the Mountain West after eight seasons in the Western Athletic Conference. Last year's USU squad began the season with a 14-1 mark, but lost all three of its returning starters to season-ending injuries by mid-season, as the Aggies finished 21-10 overall and 11-7 in WAC play.
The 2013-14 USU men's basketball roster consists of 16 players, including eighth returning lettermen, including four returning starters from last season in senior guard Preston Medlin, senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield, senior center Jarred Shaw and sophomore guard Marcel Davis. The other returning lettermen include junior forward Danny Berger, junior forward Ben Clifford, senior guard TeNale Roland and junior center Jordan Stone.
The roster also includes senior forward Sean Harris, who missed last season with a knee injury and continues progress entering the season. Additions to the squad are seven newcomers in sophomore forward Kyle Davis, along with six freshmen in forwards James Croasdell and Jalen Moore, guards JoJo McGlaston, Viko Noma'aea and Terrell Young, as well as center Carson Shanks.
Utah State is entering the 2013-14 season focused on extending their current school records for consecutive 20-win seasons, as they are one of just five schools nationally to win 21 games in each of the last 13 years along with Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas and Syracuse. Furthermore, the 2012-13 season marked the 23rd time in school history that USU has won 20 or more games in a season.
Morrill is entering his 16th season at USU and 28th overall. In 15 years at Utah State, Morrill has taken the Aggie Basketball program to unprecedented heights leading USU to an incredible 366-129 (.739) record, including a 186-62 (.750) mark in the Big West and Western Athletic Conferences. The Aggies are entering their third different conference under Morrill in 2013-14, joining the Mountain West.
While at Utah State, he has guided the Aggies to 14 straight 21-win seasons, as USU's 13 straight postseason appearances (NCAA-8, NIT-4, CIT-1), was snapped last season, but both of which are school records. Prior to Morrill's current run, USU had never posted more than three-straight 20-win seasons and participated in more than three-straight postseason tournaments.
With an overall record of 584-267 (.686) Morrill ranks 14th in the nation among active coaches and 47th all-time with his 584 career wins, while his career winning percentage of 68.6 percent ranks 19th among active coaches and 80th all-time. He is also one of 22 active coaches with 500 career wins at the Division I level and one of just nine active coaches to notch at least 18 20-win seasons. His current streak of 14 straight 20-win seasons ranks tied for fifth among active coaches and is tied for the sixth-longest streak at the Division I level.
USU opens the 2013-14 season with an exhibition against Central Methodist (Mo.) on Friday, Oct. 25 and then host Adams State (Colo.) in another exhibition on Friday, Nov. 1.
The Aggies host USC in the season-season opener on Friday, Nov. 8, then host in-state foe Southern Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
USU men's basketball season ticket renewals and new season tickets are now on sale. Season tickets start at $230 and they include all 20 home games as well as the BYU game at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Nov. 30.
For more Aggie men's basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
Fans can follow the Aggie men's basketball program at twitter.com/AggieHoops. USU fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics, on facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics.
2013-14 PRESEASON MEDIA POLL Rk. Team (First-Place Votes) Pts. 1. New Mexico (23) 263 2. UNLV (1) 214 Boise State 214 4. San Diego State 212 5. Utah State 156 6. Colorado State 142 7. Wyoming 112 8. Fresno State 96 9. Nevada 84 10. Air Force 61 11. San José State 30