October 16, 2013

Men's Basketball selected fourth in Big Sky preseason media, coaches polls

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Big Sky notes | 2013-14 NC Schedule

Collin Boyles
UNCBears.com

OGDEN, Utah -- For the first time since B.J. Hill's tenure as the Bears head coach, the team will feature more than one senior on the squad. This season will feature four, in fact, and are bringing back all five starters from the end of the 2012-13 season.

This returning talent, along with three transfers and five incoming freshmen, has Northern Colorado sitting at fourth in the Big Sky preseason coaches and media polls released on Thursday. The Bears received 201 points in the media and 77 points in the coaches poll.

The Bears are coming off a 13-18 overall record in 2012-13 and a 10-10 record in the Big Sky. Returning starters include seniors Derrick Barden, Connor Osborne, and Tate Unruh, and juniors Tim Huskisson and Tevin Svihovec. Senior Xzaivier James, junior Brendan Keane and sophomore Cody McDavis round out the eight returners from 2012-13.

The trio of Barden, Unruh and Svihovec will be looking to make an even bigger impact this season than last. Barden (in his first season with the Bears) and Unruh led the team with 13.5 points per game, tied for 10th in the Big Sky, while Svihovec followed closely with 11.9, 18th in the Big Sky.

Not only does Barden put the load on his back for scoring, but he also finished second in the Big Sky in rebounding with 8.8 per game. Unruh also will be seen as one of the better 3-point shooters in the conference, finishing 2012-13 fifth in the Big Sky with a .428 3-point field goal percentage.

Also looking to make an impact are transfers and former teammates at Casper College, Corey Spence and Dominique Lee. Both averaged at least 11.4 points per game under then head coach and now Bears assistant coach Joel Davidson.

A big season opener awaits UNC as Kansas State will play host in the season's first game on Nov. 1. The Bears and Wildcats will face-off in Manhattan, Kansas, following a season that saw the Wildcats advance to the NCAA Tournament. Other road games for Northern Colorado include New Mexico State, Colorado State and Wyoming.

The Big Sky schedule, in which the Bears finished fifth in during the 2012-13 season, begins at home against North Dakota on Sunday, Dec. 29. The majority of the conference home games (six of the first eight) will be played at the beginning of the Big Sky schedule, leaving a majority of road games at the finish.

The Bears were selected fourth in the preseason media poll and third in the coaches poll last season. The fifth place finish in 2012-13 left the Bears without a postseason game.

Weber State, Montana and North Dakota are the only teams selected ahead of Northern Colorado in the coaches and media poll.

Northern Colorado has now stayed in the top four of the coaches poll for four straight seasons. Northern Colorado was picked third in 2012 and 2011, fourth in 2010, sixth in 2009 and 2008, eighth in 2007 and ninth in 2006.

Weber State was the decision for first place in both the preseason coaches and media polls. The Wildcats finished with 100 total points and 10 first place votes in the coaches poll, and 294 points and 25 first place votes in the media poll.

Montana and North Dakota flipped positions between the coaches and media polls. UND was selected second in the coaches poll with 86 points and third in the media poll with 246 points. The Grizzlies were selected second in the media poll with 251 points and two first place votes, and third in the coaches poll with 84 points and one first place vote.

Northern Colorado will be traveling to Kansas State in just over two weeks to open the season. The Bears and Wildcats will face off in Bramlage Coliseum at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1.

2013 Big Sky Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Weber State, 100 points (10)
2. North Dakota, 86 points
3. Montana, 84 points (1)
4. Northern Colorado, 77 points
5. Eastern Washington, 55 points
6. Montana State, 54 points
7. Sacramento State, 39 points
8. Portland State, 38 points
9. Northern Arizona, 32 points
10. Idaho State, 22 points
11. Southern Utah, 18 points

2013 Big Sky Men's Basketball Preseason Media Poll
1. Weber State, 370 points (31)
2. Montana, 322 points (3)
3. North Dakota, 308 points
4. Northern Colorado, 251 points
5. Montana State, 220 points
6. Eastern Washington, 188 points
7. Northern Arizona, 161 points
8. Sacramento State, 140 points
9. Portland State, 116 points
10. Southern Utah, 92 points
11. Idaho State, 65 points