Hawaii selected to finish third by media, coaches
HONOLULU -- Hawaii, which lost its leading scorer but still returns seven letterwinners from last year's squad, is picked to finish third in the Western Athletic Conference this season in both the coaches and media preseason polls released Thursday.
Nevada was predicted to win the conference in both polls. It's the first time the Wolf Pack have topped the preseason polls since joining the WAC in 2000.
In the poll of media members that cover the WAC, the Wolf Pack received 202 points and 15 of the 21 first-place votes. Fresno State was second with 158 points and five first place votes.
Hawaii, which received one first-place vote and 150 points, was followed by Tulsa, Rice, Southern Methodist, Boise State, Louisiana Tech, Texas-El Paso and San Jose State.
Among WAC coaches, eight gave their first-place votes to Nevada. Rice was second in the coaches balloting just two points ahead of Hawaii. Fresno State, Tulsa, SMU, Boise State, Louisiana Tech, UTEP and San Jose State rounded out the coaches poll.
"Even though Nevada and Rice were picked at the top, I think the conference is wide open," senior guard Michael Kuebler said. "There's not one team that can take the title. We've got to prepare each day and get ready for every team we play."
Hawaii finished 19-12 last year, tied for sixth in the WAC at 9-9, and lost to Minnesota in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Returning starters for the Rainbow Warriors include Kuebler, forward Phil Martin and center Haim Shimonovich. One key player missing from last year's squad is Carl English, who led the team in scoring with 19.3 points per game. English skipped his senior season to enter the NBA draft, but was not selected.
Both the media and the coaches selected Nevada guard Kirk Snyder as the WAC preseason player of the year. He averaged 16.2 points and 8.1 rebounds for the Wolf Pack last season.
Martin was selected by coaches to the preseason all-conference first team. Martin, who averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds last year, was not selected by the media.
The Rainbow Warriors open fall practice at the annual "Midnight Ohana," on Friday.
On the Net:
Western Athletic Conference: http://www.wac.org
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