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Lobo Men Picked 3rd in MWC Hoops

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Alford’s team picked behind San Diego State, UNLV by media

The San Diego State Aztecs have been picked to win the Mountain West men’s basketball title this season by the narrowest of margins over UNLV, according to a media poll released by the league Monday.

The UNM Lobos, who shared last season’s regular season title with the Aztecs and went on to win the conference tournament, were picked to finish third in the poll with junior guard Kendall Williams tabbed as a preseason All-MWC selection.

“I think the only time those polls have been right was last year,” UNM head coach Steve Alford said, referring to his team being the preseason league favorites before the 2011-12 season. “So we go into the year again hoping the polls are wrong. … We’ve had something to say about it just about every year and hopefully we’ll have something to say about who wins this league again.”

San Diego State received 10 of a possible 18 first place in the poll and had 153 total points while UNLV snagged the other eight first place votes and finished with 151 points. UNM received 122 votes.

Colorado State (106 points), Nevada (89), Wyoming (70), Fresno State (49), Boise State (43) and Air Force (27) rounded out the poll.

San Diego State junior guard Jamaal Franklin, last year’s league player of the year, was selected the preseason Player of the Year.

Joining Williams and Franklin on the All-MWC First Team was UNLV forward Mike Moser, San Diego State senior guard Chase Tapley and Nevada guard Deonte Burton, who was the player of the year in the WAC last year.

The league’s Newcomer of the Year award, open to any non freshman playing his first season in the league, was a tie between UNLV sophomore guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, a transfer from USC, and SDSU sophomore forward Dwayne Polee II, a transfer from St. John’s. The Freshman of the Year is UNLV forward Anthony Bennett.

The league does not conduct a preseason coaches poll.

Alford said Williams was “very deserving” and that fellow junior guard Tony Snell, who was not honored in the preseason poll, “is somebody right on the cusp of that.”

As for whether his team will use the poll as motivation, Alford didn’t deny it will likely come up in conversation, but not as much as some fans might think.

“They understand the blueprint here,” Alford said of his team. “They understand what we want. … Our drive is to cut down nets. Our drive is to size up for rings every spring.”

The Lobos open the 2012-13 season with an Oct. 31 exhibition game against Victory (a start time for that game has not yet been announced) in the Pit and the Nov. 12 regular season opener against Davidson in the Pit with a tip off time slated for 11:59 p.m. as part of ESPN’s 24 hours of basketball promotion.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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