Mountain West men’s basketball media days are officially in the books after the second half of the basketball members took part in media day yesterday.
On the second day, we heard from two teams with new head coaches, Utah State and UNLV. And from the Nevada Wolf Pack, who were picked to finish third in the preseason poll behind Colorado State and San Diego State and received some first-place votes.
The Boise State Broncos and Wyoming Cowboys were the other participants on day two of media days. Let’s hear some sound bytes from the league and teams about what was said during media days:
There is a new era of Aggie basketball. Craig Smith is gone and Ryan Odom is in. There was also a lot of roster turnover. But one player from the past couple of Utah State teams is Justin Bean. With the mass turnover, it could have been an easy decision for Bean to leave Logan, but he decided to stay and his loyalty is paying off. At media day, Odom talked about Bean, what he’s met at Utah State and how important having him will be for this season’s team. The Aggies might not be contenders for an NCAA Tournament spot right now, but you cannot count them out with the winning culture they have created the past three seasons.
Last year was heartbreaking for Boise State. The Broncos looked comfortably in the NCAA Tournament, but after a disastrous final few weeks of the season, they found themselves in the NIT. Boise State will look to wash the bad taste of last year out of their mouth with a fresh start this season. They do have to replace Derrick Alston Jr., who led the Broncos last year. One player who will be called upon to fill the void is head coach Leon Rice’s son, Max. At media day, Leon talked about his son and what he will bring to the table this season.
After San Diego State and Colorado State, everyone will be watching the Nevada Wolf Pack to see what strides they will take in Steve Alford’s third year. The Wolf Pack are led by the conference’s preseason player of the year, Grant Sherfield. And Desmond Cambridge Jr. will be right there with Sherfield to be one of the most dynamic backcourts in the conference. With all the eyes on Nevada, there will be pressure on the Wolf Pack to produce in a crucial year for Alford. In the past two years, we have seen the growth and development the Wolf Pack have made and this is the year to see that turn into consistent results. At media day, Alford talked about how deep his team is and how that will help them this year.
Jeff Linder turned a lot of heads last year as he guided the Wyoming Cowboys to a 14-11 record. The Cowboys showed last year they won’t be an easy out for the top teams in the Mountain West. One thing that will hurt the Cowboys is that their leading scorer Marcus Williams has transferred to Texas A&M. But Linder has done a good job building a core of players who will be steady contributors to the Cowboys this season. While the conference will be tougher than last year, expect to see Wyoming continue to show improvements under Linder. At media day, Linder talked about what it means to him to be the head coach of the Cowboys.
A familiar face is now leading the Runnin’ Rebels. After spending two years as an assistant under T.J. Otzelberger, Kevin Kruger was promoted to be the head coach and lead his alma mater. The one constant for UNLV in recent years is the amount of turnover on the roster, and it is no different this year with practically a new team for Kruger. At media day, he talked about having so many new faces for the upcoming season. One constant is Bryce Hamilton, who was named to the all-conference preseason team. Expect Hamilton to be a focal point of the offense again and all of the new faces on UNLV to immediately make an impact in changing the identity if the Runnin’ Rebels to being a much more athletic team.
If anyone is interested in seeing the full second day of media days, they can watch the stream on the Mountain West’s Twitter page or watch each individual team on the conferences’ YouTube page.