Coaches choose Eagles sixth, third in media poll
The Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team, under the direction of second-year head coach Jim Hayford, has been picked to finish as high as third in the 2012-13 Big Sky Conference preseason men’s basketball polls released Oct. 18.
The media have picked the Eagles to finish third, and the coaches selected Eastern sixth. Defending Big Sky champion Montana has been selected first in both polls.
Eastern finished the 2011-12 season 15-17 overall and was 8-8 in Big Sky Conference play to finish fourth, and the Eagles hosted and won their first Big Sky Conference Tournament game since 2006. Eastern improved by five victories from the year before, as the Eagles equaled their most wins since Eastern made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004.
“We want to stand by the same goal we put out there last year – we want to be a perennial postseason team,” Hayford said. “When you look at the Big Sky Conference and you talk of teams in the postseason mix, we want Eastern Washington to be in it.”
After losing four seniors to graduation from his first Eastern team, Hayford’s 2012-13 squad will return two starters, guard Kevin Winford and forward Collin Chiverton, and four other returning letterwinners. Hayford’s team also includes three players who redshirted last season, a pair of NCAA Division I transfers and six newcomers rounding out his squad.
The Grizzlies received eight first-place votes and 98 total points in the coaches’ poll, and 24 first-place votes and 344 points in the media poll. Weber State, which lost to Montana in the Big Sky Championship game, was selected second in both polls.