Day one of the Mountain West Conference men’s basketball is in the books. Six teams took part on the first day, San Diego State, Fresno State, Colorado State, San Jose State, New Mexico, and Air Force.
The day started with the conference announcing its preseason awards and predicted order of finish. Colorado State was picked as the preseason conference winner, just a couple of votes ahead of San Diego State.
.@CSUMBasketball is the preseason favorite to win the #MWMBB regular-season title!— Mountain West (@MountainWest) October 20, 2021
@Aztec_MBB and @NevadaHoops also received first place votes -- who do you think will end up at the top this season??
Grant Sherfield of Nevada was named the preseason player of the year. Matt Bradley of San Diego State was named preseason newcomer of the year. And Keshon Gilbert of UNLV was named the preseason freshman of the year.
And Sherfield, Isaiah Stevens, David Roddy, Orlando Robinson, and Bryce Hamilton were all named to the preseason all-conference team.
Coach and Player Interviews
Here are some of the video clips from the teams that went today.
San Diego State
Here are selected versions of the video and quotes from today's MW virtual media day.— San Diego State Men's Basketball (@Aztec_MBB) October 21, 2021
And if you want to watch the entire Aztec segment here is a link: https://t.co/fZthWVQq5Q#GoAztecshttps://t.co/WFRzvQOsDj
Brian Dutcher said it was the deepest the conference has been since he became a head coach five years ago. The Aztecs have to replace three 1,000 point scorers and the biggest question for San Diego State this year will be how quickly this team comes together, will it be at the first game, first five games, or halfway through the season. He said we will have a good team, it is just a manner of figuring out how long everything will come together. They have a tough non-conference schedule, the toughest in the Mountain West, so they will be battle-tested when conference play comes around. He also said that to be picked second with the void they have to fill, speaks to the respect everyone in the conference has for them.
Justin Hutson said it was nice to have some returners, it was the first time he’s had so many returners at Fresno State. It starts with Orlando Robinson who was named to the All-Mountain West preseason team. Hutson shared similar sentiments as Dutcher saying that the conference is as deep as it's been for a while. One player to keep an eye on is Jamal Baker, the senior guard who transferred from Arizona, who was someone that Hutson was really excited about and could help lift the Bulldogs to the top. He has helped the culture of the team with his mentality and the intensity he brings to the court. Anthony Holland said that the chemistry is there with so many returners, it has helped out in practice to focus on the little things and fine-tune those things.
One of the biggest things Colorado State has worked on is improving from within. Niko Medved said that this group has done a good job so far looking at how they can get better from last year. Leading the way are Roddy and Stevens, who are working hard and making sure everyone is not satisfied with being named preseason favorites. Roddy said it was a big honor to be named preseason favorites and it is a testament to how hard everyone has worked. They know they need to work on the details late in games to improve defensively and Stevens said they must stay mentally tough, which will help them in those cases.
San Jose State
The Spartans are led by new coach Tim Miles, who is familiar with the Mountain West. Miles coached at Colorado State and had success with the Rams. Miles spoke about having experience coaching in the conference can help pay off as he works to build San Jose State. The Spartans have not had the track record like other schools in the conference, but Miles is confident that this can be the beginning of them breaking the cycle of losing in San Jose. The biggest thing Miles said will change the culture is accepting the fight, and has he put it the Spartans have to run to the fight and take challenges head-on.
.@UNMLoboMBB has eight new players on the roster and only one of the five returners has played in front of fans at The Pit. @LoboCoachPitino is excited by the unknown of what the Lobos will be this season#AtThePeak | #MWMBB | #GoLobos pic.twitter.com/bY9cJbJktf— Mountain West (@MountainWest) October 20, 2021
The Lobos are about to tip off a new season with a new coach, Richard Pitino. New Mexico has a lot of turnover on its roster, so it might take them some time to come together. When asked about where the Lobos were picked in the preseason poll, Pitino said that being picked low did not motivate him because they have so much turnover, it should be expected to have the Lobos low. But, that doesn’t mean the Lobos could be a good Mountain West team by the end of the season. He is very excited about what his team is capable of.
Joe Scott begins the second year of his second stint as head coach of the Falcons. In his first stint, he helped build Air Force into an NCAA caliber team in his last year before he went to Princeton. Scott talked a lot about how the really good teams in this conference are junior and senior-led. That either comes from guys who have been in the program for a few years or transfers coming in who are upperclassmen. Scott will have his own challenges of having to replace eight players from last year’s roster, so that will be a challenge for the Falcons to get all their new players ready to be competitive and try to grow the program.