Courtesy: Dean Hare
MBB picked fifth, sixth
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 10/24/2012
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MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho men’s basketball was picked fifth by the media and sixth by the league’s coaches in the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Polls, which were released Wednesday morning.

Idaho, which returns two starters and eight letter winners from the team that went 19-14 overall, finished third in the WAC and advanced to the Postseason Tournament last season, earned 144 points from the media and 45 points from the coaches.

“The preseason polls are what they are,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said on Wednesday. “It’s about where you finish at the end of the year and that’s what I’ll tell my basketball team. Those things don’t really mean anything until the end of the season.”

Verlin knows a little about preseason poll accuracy. In his first season at Idaho, 2008-09, the Vandals were a unanimous ninth-place pick out of nine teams. They finished third instead. In 2010-11, they were picked eighth – and finished third. Last season, Idaho was a fifth-place preseason selection and once again, finished third in the WAC final standings.

Defending WAC Tournament champion New Mexico State and Utah State each earned five first-place votes from the coaches, but the southern Aggies edged USU by one point, 77-76, as the preseason favorite.

On the media side, Utah State claimed 15 of the 25 first-place nods for 232 points, while NM State had eight votes and 223 points in second. Denver and UT Arlington each received one first-place vote in the media poll.

“As this season plays out, I think we’re going to learn a lot about the Western Athletic Conference,” Verlin said. “There’s a lot of parity in the WAC this year and there’s a lot of unknown in the WAC this year. It will be fun to watch the preseason and see what teams do and see how this season plays out.”

Idaho senior center Kyle Barone was a Preseason First-Team All-WAC selection on the coaches poll and was one of five on the media’s Preseason All-WAC team. He was a Second-Team All-WAC pick in 2012 and an Honorable Mention selection in 2011. Barone returned to practice this week, but is still serving an indefinite suspension for an offseason violation of team rules.

Barone enters the 2012-13 season as Idaho’s active career leader in points (917), rebounds (578), assist (93) and blocks (86). He averaged a career-best 12.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game last season on 54.8 percent shooting – all team-leading marks last year.

Utah State junior guard Preston Medlin was the Preseason Player of the Year in both polls. Both polls had unanimous selections to the First Team, which included Barone, Medlin, Louisiana Tech sophomore guard Raheem Appleby, NM State sophomore guard Daniel Mullings and Denver junior forward Chris Udofia.

The coaches poll included an All-WAC Second Team of Kevin Butler, a senior forward from UT Arlington, Jeromie Hill, a junior forward from UTSA, James Kinney, a senior guard from San Jose State, Kyisean Reed, a senior forward from Utah State, and Tyrone Watson, a senior forward from NM State. The media also chose Utah State junior forward Jarred Shaw as the WAC Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

Idaho starts exhibition play this Saturday, Oct. 27, when the Vandals host Seattle Pacific at 7:05 p.m. (PT) in Memorial Gym. They’ll play a second preseason contest against Central Washington in an exhibition doubleheader with the Vandal women on Friday, Nov. 2, at 8:05 p.m. at Memorial Gym.

The team opens its regular season with three-straight home games at Memorial Gym, starting with Wright State of the Horizon League at 7:05 p.m. (PT) on Friday, Nov. 9.
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