OGDEN, Utah – If the 2013-14 Big Sky preseason men’s basketball polls serve as an indicator, North Dakota made quite an impression on the league’s coaches and media members during their first year of membership. The peers of head coach Brian Jones picked his squad to finish second behind Weber State, while the media tabbed the club to take third in the two polls released by league officials on Thursday.
“We are grateful for the respect we are getting from the coaches and media around the league,” Jones said. “Our program wants to continue to earn its way in the Big Sky Conference and it will be a challenging task this season to finish at the top. I truly feel the league is extremely balanced from top to bottom and there will be no easy wins at home or on the road. The team that is fortunate enough to win this conference title will be the one who can remain healthy and embrace the journey of Big Sky basketball.”
Weber State was picked to win the league title in both polls, receiving 25 first-place votes in the media poll and 10 of out 11 first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. Montana garnered the other two first-place votes from the media and was second behind the Wildcats in the poll. The Griz had the only other first-place vote in the coaches’ poll, but finished two points behind UND in third.
Jones has four senior starters back from a squad that advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament for the third straight season and won 12 Big Sky games, which were the most ever by a league newcomer. UND finished third in the Big Sky standings, which was also the best finish ever by a new member and advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament where the Green and White was edged by No. 2 seed Weber State, 76-74.
Senior Troy Huff was one of two league players (Kareem Jamar; Montana) to earn unanimous All-Big Sky first team honors after winning the scoring title with a 19.2 ppg average. Huff was also named to the Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American Team and earned preseason accolades for that squad this season.
Classmate Aaron Anderson was a second team All-Big Sky honoree after averaging 13.3 ppg in his first season in the new league. Anderson has started the every game over the past two seasons. Point guard Jamal Webb proved to be one of the top defenders in the Big Sky last season, racking up 73 steals, which was one shy of the UND single-season record. Webb also averaged 9.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 4.1 apg. Guard Josh Schuler rounds out the returning quarter of starters. He averaged a career-high in 9.2 ppg in 2012-13.
UND will open its 2013-14 season at home on Nov. 13 against Minnesota, Morris, but fans are invited to get their first glimpse of the team at an intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Noon at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Admission is free.
UND’s Big Sky debut is on Dec. 29 at Northern Colorado. The Bears were picked to finish fourth in both of the preseason polls.
2013-14 Preseason Men’s Basketball Polls
|1.||Weber State (10)||100|
|1.||Weber State (31)||370|
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