BIG SKY MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHES AND MEDIA PRESEASON POLLS RELEASED
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State men's basketball team was selected to finish seventh out of 11 teams in the Big Sky Conference preseason coaches poll, and eighth in the league's media poll.
Last year's conference runner-up, Weber State, was selected to finish first in both the media and coaches polls while defending Big Sky regular season and tournament champion Montana was picked second in the media poll and third in the coaches poll. Both polls varied from top to bottom as the only place in the standings the coaches and media agreed upon were first (Weber State) and fourth place (Northern Colorado).
Sacramento State, which has increased its conference win total four straight years, finished the 2012-13 season with a 14-15 overall record and tied for sixth in the Big Sky with an 8-12 league mark.
The team's 14 victories were the most in seven years, the 10-4 home record was the best inside The Nest in eight years, and the eight conference wins matched the most since the program joined the Big Sky in 1996-97. Defensively, the Hornets allowed just 65.7 points per game, the best mark for the program in over 40 years (the 1970-71 squad allowed 64.7 ppg).
The Hornets return nine players from a season ago, headlined by junior point guard Dylan Garrity and junior shooting guard Mikh McKinney. The duo, which are team co-captains this year, combine to form one of the best back courts in the Big Sky. The two combined to average 23.9 points per game last season while shooting better than 39 percent from the three point line and 83 percent from the free throw line.
Other Hornets back for 2013-14 include senior forwards Jordan Salley and Joey Quigley, senior guard Kendell Groom, junior center Ryan Okwudibonye, junior forward Alex Tiffin, and sophomore guards Cody Demps and Dreon Barlett. Tiffin, who is 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds, redshirted last season after transferring from UC Davis. Okwudibonye is back from a knee injury that forced him to miss all but one game last year.
Sacramento State did lose four of its top six scorers from a year ago in forward John Dickson (1st; 12.8 ppg), center Konner Veteto (4th; 10.2 ppg), swingman Joe Eberhard (5th; 6.9 ppg) and shooting guard Jackson Carbajal (6th; 3.3 ppg). In all, Sacramento State lost five players from a season ago, and those five players combined to average nearly 50 percent (.498) of the team's total offensive production.
Sixth-year head coach Brian Katz and his staff added five newcomers to the roster, including a trio of freshmen (swingman Nick Hornsby, center Eric Stuteville and guard Trevis Jackson) and a pair of junior college transfers (forward Zach Mills and guard Case Rada). Hornsby is the most decorated of the group, having earned first team all-state honors at Tustin High School in southern California last season. He was also named by named by ESPN as the 20th best high school recruit in the state of California.
Sacramento State had its first official team practice on Sept. 27, and the squad is now just 15 days away from its lone exhibition game against Menlo on Friday, Nov. 1, inside the Nest.
The Hornets' season opener, and home opener, is Nov. 8 against UC Santa Cruz. Sacramento State will play just two regular season games at home during the month of November. Following the UC Santa Cruz game, the Hornets play three consecutive road contests at CSU Bakersfield, UCLA and UC Davis, respectively.
COACHES POLL (First Place Votes)
1. Weber State (10) - 100
2. North Dakota - 86
3. Montana (1) - 84
4. Northern Colorado - 77
5. Eastern Washington - 55
6. Montana State - 54
7. Sacramento State - 39
8. Portland State - 38
9. Northern Arizona - 32
10. Idaho State - 22
11. Southern Utah - 18
MEDIA POLL (First Place Votes)
1. Weber State (31) - 370
2. Montana (3) - 322
3. North Dakota - 308
4. Northern Colorado - 251
5. Montana State - 220
6. Eastern Washington - 188
7. Northern Arizona - 161
8. Sacramento State - 140
9. Portland State - 116
10. Southern Utah - 92
11. Idaho State - 65