Both the WAC coaches and media tabbed the Idaho men's basketball team to finish eighth -- which is where coach Don Verlin thought the Vandals, with just one returning starter, would end up in the preseason polls. Also worth mentioning: No Vandals were honored with individual preseason honors.
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Here's UI's release on the unveiling of the polls. We'll have more hoops tidbits as the season nears:
DENVER – The Western Athletic Conference announced its media and coaches preseason men’s basketball polls on Tuesday, in which the University of Idaho men were picked eighth.
The Vandal men received 19 points in the coaches poll and 78 points in the media poll to finish above Hawai`i, which was ninth on both polls, and just below Louisiana Tech, which was picked seventh in both.
Based on the Vandals losing four starters and a majority of its points, rebounds and assists from the 2009-10 squad that went 15-16 overall and 6-10 in the WAC, Idaho head coach Don Verlin said he wasn’t surprised by his team’s spot in the rankings.
“We’re pretty much where I thought we were going to be with as many new guys as we have, and only one returning starter,” Verlin said. “It gives us something to shoot for – we’ve got nowhere to go but up.”
Verlin also pointed out that Idaho was picked ninth by both the coaches and the media in 2008-09, before the team went 17-15, finished third in the WAC and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
“It’s all about where you finish at the end of the season, no question,” Verlin said.
Idaho returns one 2009-10 starter, junior forward Luiz Toledo, and one starter from 2008-09, senior forward Brandon Wiley, who missed last season with a back injury. The team returns three more players who saw significant minutes last year, as well as two redshirts, three junior-college transfers and two true freshmen.
In addition to the roster turnover, Idaho also added a new assistant to the mix in Tim Murphy, a 26-year coaching veteran who most recently coached at Cal Poly from 2001-09.
Both polls were identical in the top three, with Utah State first, followed by New Mexico State second and Nevada third. USU received 19 first-place votes from the media, while NMSU had eight, Nevada had two and San Jose State had one. USU received eight first-place votes from the coaches, while the ninth vote went to NMSU.
The coaches poll put Boise State and Fresno State in a fourth-place tie, followed by San Jose State at sixth. The media voted SJSU fourth, Fresno State fifth and BSU sixth. Both polls had Louisiana Tech, Idaho and Hawai`i in seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
Idaho basketball will be on display to the public for the first time this season on Friday, Oct. 22, at the Vandal Black & Gold Scrimmage at 6 p.m. at Memorial Gym. The Vandals will play their first exhibition game on Saturday, Oct. 30, against Northwest Christian at 7:05 p.m. at Memorial Gym.