Oct. 18, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - After winning four-straight regular season Western Athletic Conference Championships and two WAC Tournament titles in the past three years, Utah State's men's basketball team is picked to finish first in the conference once again during the 2011-12 season according to league's media, while the coaches have tabbed the Aggies third as the WAC's preseason polls were announced Tuesday.
Two of Utah State's players were recognized as well as senior guard Brockeith Pane was named preseason first-team all-WAC by both the coaches and media and was selected the league's preseason Player of the Year by the media, while senior forward Brady Jardine was named to the preseason all-second team by the coaches.
Nevada is the coaches pick to win the WAC this year after receiving five first-place votes and 46 points, while New Mexico State is slated to finish second after garnering 41 points, but no first-place votes. Utah State received three first-place votes and 38 points and was picked to finish third, followed by Hawai'i (32), Idaho (24), Fresno State (18), San Jose State (14) and Louisiana Tech (11).
In the media poll, Utah State garnered 13 first-place votes and 174 points, while Nevada was second with 162 points and five first-place votes. New Mexico State, who received 150 points and three first-place votes was picked third, while Hawai'i received 126 points and three first-place votes and was picked to finish fourth. Idaho was picked fifth (89), followed by San Jose State (66), Fresno State (59) and Louisiana Tech (38).
"Both polls reflect our past success rather than our current situation," said Morrill. "The coaches considered that we lost the Most Valuable Player, four starters and six seniors. The media did not. We appreciate the respect given to our program and yet understand that preseason polls mean nothing other than getting people excited for the upcoming season."
Overall, Utah State returns one starter and four letterwinners from last year's team that advanced to its 20th NCAA Tournament all-time, including its eighth in the last 12 years under Morrill as it lost to Kansas State, 73-68, in the second round. Utah State finished the 2010-11 season with a 30-4 record - tying the school record for wins and setting a school record for winning percentage (.882) - and went 15-1 in WAC play to claim its fourth-straight regular season league championship, which is also school record. USU also won its second WAC Tournament championship in the past three seasons last year. Over the last four years, USU has a combined record of 111-28 (.799) including a 55-9 (.859) WAC mark.
Leading the way for Utah State during the 2011-12 season will be Pane who earned first-team all-WAC honors as a junior as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, while ranking fourth in the league in free throw shooting (.802), fifth in assists and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.32). Pane, who was also named the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 WAC Tournament, finished the season shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from three-point range.
Utah State's most experienced player is Jardine who has played in 91 games with seven starts during his first three years at USU. As a junior, Jardine averaged 7.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 21.4 minutes and shot 54.1 percent from the field and 64.7 percent at the free throw line.
Other returners from last season's WAC Championship team include senior forward Morgan Grim and junior guard E.J. Farris. Grim played in 32 games during his first year at Utah State and averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.7 minutes, while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 62.9 percent at the free throw line. Farris played in 21 games in his first year as an Aggie and averaged 1.9 points in 7.3 minutes.
Utah State also returns three redshirts in 2011-12 in junior guard Antonio Bumpus, sophomore guard Preston Medlin and freshman forward Ben Clifford. While Bumpus and Clifford have never played for USU, Medlin appeared in 22 games as a true freshman during the 2009-10 season and averaged 3.7 points while shooting 40.9 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 92.9 percent at the free throw line.
Joining Utah State's four returnees and three redshirts are 10 newcomers in junior forwards Igor Premasunac, Kyisean Reed and Jarred Shaw, sophomore forwards Danny Berger and Mitch Bruneel, freshmen forwards David Collette and Adam Thoseby, freshmen guards Sam Orchard and Steven Thornton, and freshman center Jordan Stone.
Utah State will hold its annual Blue-White Scrimmage on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m., and its first exhibition game will be on Friday, Oct. 28 against UC San Diego at 7 p.m. USU will then play its final exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 5 against Adams State at 4 p.m. before beginning the regular season at home against in-state rival Brigham Young on Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.
Season tickets are available through USU's website at www.UtahStateAggies.com or by calling the ticket office toll free at 1-888-USTATE-1 ore (435) 797-0305.
2011-12 WAC Preseason Coaches Poll Rk. Team Pts. 1 Nevada (5) 46 2. New Mexico State 41 3. UTAH STATE (3) 38 4. Hawai'i 32 5. Idaho 24 6. Fresno State 18 7. San Jose State 14 8. Louisiana Tech 11
2011-12 Preseason Coaches All-WAC Teams First-Team Deonte Burton, So., G, Nevada Vander Joaquim, Jr., C, Hawai'i Zane Johnson, Sr., G, Hawai'i Wendell McKines, Sr., F, New Mexico State Brockeith Pane, Sr., G, Utah State
Second-Team Kyle Barone, Jr., C, Idaho Dario Hunt, Sr., F, Nevada Hernst Laroche, Sr., G, New Mexico State Brady Jardine, Sr., F, Utah State Malik Story, Jr., G, Nevada Coaches Preseason Player of the Year: Deonte Burton, So., G, Nevada
2011-12 WAC Preseason Media Poll Rk. Team Pts. 1. UTAH STATE (13) 174 2. Nevada (5) 162 3. New Mexico State (3) 150 4. Hawai'i (3) 126 5. Idaho 89 6. San Jose State 66 7. Fresno State 59 8. Louisiana Tech 38
2011-12 Preseason Media All-WAC Team First-Team Deonte Burton, So., G, Nevada Dario Hunt, Sr., F, Nevada Zane Johnson, Sr., G, Hawai'i Wendell McKines, Sr., F, New Mexico State Brockeith Pane, Sr., G, Utah State Media Preseason Player of the Year: Brockeith Pane, Sr., G, Utah State Media Preseason Newcomer of the Year: Shaquille Stokes, Fr., G, Hawai'i
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