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Montana Basketball Teams Picked Second in Big Sky Hoops Polls
Big Sky Conference basketball
Kareem Jamar. Courtesy University of Montana
The Weber State men's basketball team has been selected first in preseason polls of Big Sky Conference coaches and media that cover the league.

Things aren't as clear from there.

Weber State received 31 first-place votes in the media poll while second-place Montana received three. The Wildcats were the unanimous first-place selection in the coaches' poll, receiving 10 votes. Third-place Montana received one. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.

The Grizzlies are coming off back-to-back 25-7 regular-season records, and have gone 34-2 in Big Sky games the past two years. Eighth-year Griz head coach Wayne Tinkle, the league’s coach of the year the past two seasons, welcomes three starters and eight letterman from his record-setting squad of a year ago. UM’s three returning starters are 6-5 senior guard-forward Kareem Jamar (32 starts), the Big Sky Conference MVP last season and an Associated Press honorable mention selection; 6-9 senior center Eric Hutchison (27 starts), and 6-2 junior guard Jordan Gregory (21 starts).

“I think it’s (the two pre-season polls) spot-on,” said Tinkle. “Weber State has been awfully talented the last couple of years and returns a lot of guys. When you look at North Dakota and Northern Colorado, they both return four and five starters, respectively. Those teams definitely deserve to be where they are at.

“Everybody had their losses, Weber losing (Scott) Bamforth and the big fella (forward) Frank Otis, and we lost a lot in (point guard) Will Cherry and (forward) Mathias Ward,” Tinkle added. "But, I am real confident in our group. I think by the time it’s all said and done we will be where we need to be."

North Dakota was second in the media poll and third in the coaches' poll. Northern Colorado was fourth in both.

Montana State was picked to finish fifth by the media and sixth by the coaches, while Eastern Washington was picked sixth by the media and fifth by the coaches.

The Montana women's basketball team was picked to finish second in the Big Sky Conference and Montana State is picked to finish fourth in polls of the coaches and media that cover the league.

Eastern Washington topped both polls, followed by Montana, Northern Colorado, Montana State and Idaho State.

Nine of the 11 first- and second-team All-Big Sky Conference performers from a season ago graduated, and only one of those two returners is playing this season.

Montana coach Robin Selvig, entering his 36th season with the Lady Griz, has holes to fill on the roster. Most notably, 2012-13 Big Sky MVP Katie Baker and first-team All-Big Sky selection Kenzie De Boer are gone, as is more than half of the team’s scoring from a year ago.

Back are two experienced returning starters in seniors Torry Hill and forward Jordan Sullivan, and if a team is only going to have two starters back, point guard is the most optimal position to have locked down.

“There are not as many established returners as there have been the last couple of years, so there are a lot more unknowns,” Selvig said. “I don’t ever put much credence in the poll, but it’s probably even less this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if somebody who was picked eighth or ninth finished near the top.”

Eastern Washington received six first-place votes and 94 points in the coaches' poll, followed by Montana with three first-place votes and 84 points to just edge Northern Colorado with two first-place votes and 81 points.

EWU received 20 first-place votes in the media poll while Montana received two and Northern Colorado four.

The coaches' poll has Southern Utah sixth followed by Portland State, North Dakota and Sacramento State, while the media picked Sacramento State sixth followed by Portland State, Southern Utah and North Dakota.

Northern Arizona and Weber State were 10th and 11th in both polls.
Big Sky Conference Preseason Rankings
Men
Media Poll
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

Coaches Poll
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

Women
Media
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

Coaches
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
 
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