Players weigh in on toughest places to play in MW men’s basketball

I caught up with players from all 11 Mountain West teams and asked them the toughest places to play in the league during MW Men’s Basketball Media Day in Las Vegas.

As you will see, no big surprises where some of the toughest places are, but it’s still fun to see some of the players’ reactions.

G Josh Adams, Sr., Wyoming: New Mexico. Packed house. Very loud. Their fans know everything about you, and they know basketball.”

G Marqueze Coleman, Sr., Nevada: San Diego State and New Mexico. The crowds there are incredible.

G/F Tyron Criswell, Sr., Nevada: San Diego State. Their student section was wild. You couldn’t hear anything. We had to coach ourselves.

G Joe De Ciman, Sr., Colorado State: The Pit at New Mexico. You walk down that ramp and that’s what college basketball is all about.

F Tiel Daniels, Sr. Colorado State: The Pit.

G/F Anthony Drmic, Sr., Boise State: Colorado State, Wyoming, Utah State. Especially Wyoming with the altitude. 

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Preseason MW all-conference team, predicted order of finish

The Mountain West released men’s basketball preseason all-conference team and predicted order of finish Tuesday morning as it began its two-day media day activities in Las Vegas.

Here’s the link to the preseason all-conference team and preseason poll.

http://www.wyosports.net/uw-s-adams-named-to-preseason-all-mw-men-s/article_478a6bac-71b8-11e5-a794-0b5624a75e3a.html

I was one of those media members, and here’s how I voted:

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

Josh Adams

Josh Adams

Winston Shepard – Forward – San Diego State
Anthony Drmic – Guard/Forward – Boise State
James Webb III – Forward – Boise State
Marvelle Harris – Guard – Fresno State
Josh Adams – Guard – Wyoming

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winston Shepard – Forward – San Diego State
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Stephen Zimmerman, Jr. – Forward – UNLV
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Jerome Seagears – Guard – UNLV

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1 San Diego State
2 Boise State
3 Utah State
4 UNLV
5 Fresno State
6 New Mexico
7 Colorado State
8 Nevada
9 Wyoming
10 Air Force
11 San Jose State

I nailed the all-conference team, and when it was released one of the Las Vegas media members seemed surprised Adams was on the list. I differed some on the player and newcomer of the year.

I had Wyoming one spot lower than the preseason poll. Hope I am wrong about that.

Let me know what you think, folks. Do you agree or disagree with any of this stuff?

UW-San Diego State men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question and answer session with Mark Zeigler, who covers San Diego State men’s basketball for the San Diego Union-Tribune, on Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tipoff is at 9 p.m. MT at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

Follow on Twitter: @sdutzeigler

Despite a loss at Boise State Sunday, San Diego State is tied for first in the Mountain West and currently hold the tiebreaker with Wyoming. Are the Aztecs the best team in the MW in your opinion?

I still think so. I’m not saying they’re a great team by any stretch, just the least mediocre team in an increasingly mediocre league. If they play defense like they can and make a

Mark Zeigler

Mark Zeigler

few shots, they’re very good (ask Utah State). If they play defense like they can and shoot like they usually do (poorly), they just scrape by. If they don’t play elite defense and don’t make shots, they lose 61-46 at Boise State. The one advantage they have over the rest of the field is the schedule, with Wyoming, Colorado State and Boise State all at home down the stretch, plus games against San Jose State and Nevada. I think they get to 14 wins, which should be enough for at least a share of the title if not outright.

 

We know the Aztecs are one of the best defensive teams in the nation, and that they often struggle to shoot the ball. But why do they struggle to shoot the ball? is it shot selection, is it mental? What are your thoughts on that?

They had a stretch where it seemed like every player they recruited was categorized as “athletic wing, can’t shoot.” That is definitely part of it. Not having Dwayne Polee II hurts, since he was their best perimeter threat at the end of last season (making more than 50 percent of his 3s over the final month). Freshman Trey Kell was billed as having one of the best perimeter strokes in the prep class of 2014, and so far that hasn’t materialized. Matt Shrigley has been streaky. The shots they get aren’t horrible, since teams generally sag and clog the paint, almost daring them to fire away. But they also have shown the capacity to make them in bunches (ask Air Force), and there was a recent four-game stretch where they ranked in the Top 10 nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage.

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UW-San Diego State men’s hoops Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Mark Zeigler, who covers San Diego State men’s basketball for the San Diego Union-Tribune, for Wednesday’s game with the 25th-ranked University of Wyoming. Tip-off is at 9 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @sduzeigler

What is the latest on the condition of senior forward Dwayne Polee II after collapsing during a game earlier this season, and how has his absence impacted the Aztecs?

Mark Zeigler

Mark Zeigler

Polee is at nearly every practice, sitting on the sideline and watching. Coach Steve Fisher put it like this: “He’s still in that medical maze.” He’s seen an array of specialists, and Fisher said it will be at least another five to seven days before they sit down and aggregate all the test results and medical opinions. I still think it’s as much an if as when proposition on his return, but the earliest we’d probably see him in uniform, you’d think, would be several more weeks.

 

Has anyone stepped up in your opinion with Polee out, or who do you think needs to moving forward?

It’s probably too early to say, but Matt Shrigley has been moved into the starting lineup (in place of freshman Trey Kell) and played well against New Mexico, showing he can do more than just sit on the perimeter and make 3s. Winston Shepard also had probably the best game of his career against New Mexico, certainly the best half of his career (16 points, 7 of 8 shooting, six rebounds). Polee was not playing particularly well when he went down, and Fisher had moved him out of the starting lineup. But without him, the bench is incredibly inexperienced (only 3.2 points per game from last season) and the Aztecs lose their most athletic player. He also was the top of the 1-3-1 zone defense that was so instrumental in winning the regular-season Mountain West title last season.

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UW-San Diego State men’s hoops Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Tod Leonard, who helps cover San Diego State men’s basketball for the San Diego Union-Tribune, about Tuesday night’s game with the University of Wyoming at 9:05 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @sdutleonard

How surprised are you that San Diego State is No. 5 in the nation, undefeated in the MW and winners of 20 straight games? Wasn’t this supposed to be somewhat of a transition season for the Aztecs?

With the Mountain West Player of the Year from last season, Jamaal Franklin, leaving one season early for the NBA, there seemed to be a consensus in the Mountain West that this would be a transition season. The Aztecs were picked by the coaches to finish fourth in the conference. Nobody, including San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, saw a 20-game winning streak or 10-0 start in the MW coming. The team is young, and point guard Xavier Thames, who had a history of back trouble, needed to fill Franklin’s role and the Aztecs had to get a big contribution from sophomore forward Winston Shepard. Both have produced, and 6-feet-10 sophomore Skylar Spencer has come up big on the inside defense with 54 blocked shots in the past 20 games.

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UW-San Diego State pregame notes

It will be interesting to see in today’s Wyoming-San Diego State men’s hoops game if San Diego State has point guard Xavier Thames. He sat out the conference-opener last week at Fresno State with a bad back, and had no points and no assists in 25 minutes in the Aztecs’ 82-75 home loss to UNLV on Wednesday.

There are plenty of other guys that can play the point for SDSU. But still, that could be an interesting thing to follow today. This would have been a good game to get senior guard Luke Martinez back at 6-foot-4 to help defend the 6-3 Thames, 6-3 senior guard Chase Tapley or even 6-5 guard Jamaal Franklin — the reigning MW Player of the Year. SDSU also has a 6-8 freshman, Winston Shepard, than can play the point, or at very least, handle the ball.

–UW and San Diego State were a combined 8 of 56 (14.3 percent) from 3-point range in their last games. The Cowboys must make some 3s to have a chance to win today.

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