Oct. 12, 2010
Denver, Colo. --- The University of New Mexico Lobos, the back-to-back defending Mountain West Conference champions, have been selected third in the preseason media poll released by the league on Tuesday afternoon. Along with the poll, the conference released its preseason all-conference teams and honorees. Dairese Gary was named to the preseason all-conference team, along with Drew Gordon who picked up Newcomer of the Year honors.
The Lobos garnered three first-place votes and 214 points from a panel of 30 media members. Last year, despite being picked fifth in the preseason poll, the Lobos won their second consecutive Mountain West title with a 14-2 league record, winning their final 14 conference games. The team went on to post a school record 30 wins, going 30-5 for the season and winning an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in 11 years.
The program reached other heights, highlighted by a No. 8 national ranking and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Last year the Lobos had four players honored by the conference in the postseason, including Darington Hobson winning Player of the Year honors, and head coach Steve Alford garnering his second straight Coach of the Year award.
In talking about this year's team at the Mountain West media days, Alford alluded to his two starters from last year in the graduated Roman Martinez and NBA-bound Darington Hobson. "Those are two guys that are hard to replace, but we have two transfers that are going to have to step up in a hurry." Those transfers are Emmanuel Negedu from Tennessee and Drew Gordon from UCLA, who join three starters and six letterwinners from last year's 30-5 team.
"Emmanuel Negedu from Tennessee and Drew Gordon from UCLA, who becomes eligible six games before league play, these are two transfers that are going to have to make an immediate impact. Nine of our 13 players are freshmen or sophomores, so our young guys are going to have to develop quickly," said Alford.
Gordon was named the preseason Newcomer of the Year. Gordon averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds for UCLA last season in the first semester over six games before transferring to New Mexico. He also played in 34 of UCLA's 35 games as a freshman.
One guy who has already developed is Gary, from Elkhart, Ind. The lone senior averaged 13.3 points and 3.9 assists per game, and was named both first team All-Mountain West and All-MWC Defensive Team. Gary was at his best when it mattered most, averaging 19.8 points per game over the final seven contests, including four postseason games.
"As long as I have Dairese Gary at every jump ball, we are going to be in games," said Alford. "He's just one of those special guys. He can make the game ugly and win, he can make a game pretty and win but as long as he is there at the tip we feel very confident that we have a chance."
Four seniors and a sophomore earned preseason All-Conference honors, and UNM's Dairese Gary was one of three guards, joining BYU's Jimmer Fredette, who was the preseason Player of the Year, and Tre'Von Willis of UNLV. San Diego State had a pair of forwards honored on the all-conference in Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas. BYU's Kyle Collinsworth was named preseason Freshman of the Year.
The Lobos will open exhibition play on Wednesday, November 3 at 7 p.m. against Eastern New Mexico in the renovated Pit. The Lobos will host an open house on Monday, November 1. The team will practice from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., with the venue open for students at 2:30 and for non-students at 3:30 p.m. The open house will begin at 5 p.m., and later that night the legendary Bobby Knight will be speaking at the Embassy Suites hotel with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the University Libraries.
2010-11 MWC MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL Rk. School (First-Place Votes) Pts. 1. San Diego State (21) 261 2. BYU (5) 220 3. New Mexico (3) 214 4. UNLV (1) 203 5. Colorado State 132 6. Utah 105 7. TCU 92 8. Wyoming 88 9. Air Force 35
2010-11 MWC MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM Name Class Pos. Institution Jimmer Fredette Sr. G BYU Dairese Gary Sr. G New Mexico Kawhi Leonard So. F San Diego State Malcolm Thomas Sr. F San Diego State Tre'Von Willis Sr. G UNLV Preseason Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette, Sr., G, BYU Preseason Newcomer of the Year Drew Gordon, Jr., F, New Mexico Preseason Freshman of the Year Kyle Collinsworth, Fr., G, BYU