It’s that time of the year when the Coaches’ Poll will come out and… here is our official ranking, taking into account some outgoing/incoming transfers as well as what teams have returning, history of regeneration (or not), so on and so forth.
1. Western Washington. This decision was almost impossible, but… Kyle Impero, Ricardo Maxwell, Harris Javier, Jeff Parker, Mac Johnson. All played huge numbers of minutes. Inevitably WWU gets good transfers. That is why they’re number one. They return the most, they have a history of regeneration, and their program has very high standards. They’re not in Carver this year due to a remodel, but we think that may be to their advantage -they’re losing 2900 seats, which may mean that every game is a sellout and their already elite home court advantage is that much more intense.
2. Western Oregon. Julian Nichols, Andy Avgi, Jordan Wiley, Devon Alexander. All great players. We truly believe that losing Lew Thomas is addition by subtraction. They’ve got a new coaching staff, we love Jim Shaw, they just went to the tournament and didn’t lose much off that team. We were really, really, really tempted to put them at #1, because SPU demonstrated that it is totally possible to win with only four guys contributing, but… They need Devon and Jordan to prove that they can function consistently during the regular season, not just non-conference.
3. Central Washington. They return a ton of guys that played great minutes, their teamwork and chemistry survived even with the cancer that they had last year. All they need to do is figure out the scoring situation and how that’s gonna distribute (which, on a team of unselfish players like these guys demonstrated last year shouldn’t be a problem) and they’re gonna be golden.
4. Alaska Fairbanks. Joe Slocum was out last year, Almir Hadzisehovic is quality, Ashton Edwards had good moments, Alex Duncan was functional. They need to make peace with the forward position, but if they figure that out -it’s hard to play in Fairbanks, and that could make this team dynamite.
5. Seattle Pacific. Yes. We went this low and yet it in one sense it still feels too high. SPU is odd because they return almost nothing but have such a history of regeneration, a great coaching staff, a great non-conference schedule, and they brought in the pieces that they need, theoretically. Do we expect them to make the NCAA tournament? No. Will we be happy if they do? Yes.
6. MSU-Billings. They bring back Momir Gataric, Kendall Denham, Emmanuel Johnson, Jace Anderson, and Marc Matthews, all of whom saw plenty of playing time. While it’s sort of an SFU scenario where they bring back a bunch of guys that couldn’t win, they do boast a much better non-conference schedule, and hopefully they’ll gel and find the pieces they need and make a run.
7. Alaska Anchorage. They simply lost too much, essentially only bringing back Brian McGill. We’re excited for Suki Wiggs to be up there and play for them, but the Seawolves return so little of off a team that was a major disappointment. We expect it to be more of a rebuilding year, but… with transfers anything is possible.
8. Saint Martin’s. For as much as they lost, they return quite a bit and bring in a great coaching staff. Have very little idea about what their incomings are like, but as is very well known around here: We love Trey, we love Tyler, we love Isaac, and Victor definitely had his moments so all hope isn’t lost.
9. CU-Portland. They return pretty much nothing but do have a great culture of winning, are in a fantastic location for recruiting, we like the coaching staff, we like the program culture, we think they’re in a position to do well in the GNAC in the future, they could surprise people, but this year should be a building year.
10. Simon Fraser. They’re getting this spot purely because their school is much more appealing to attend and the degree is worth far more than one from NNU. They need their transfers to come in and kick booty because they don’t return a ton and of what they do return is nothing to cross the border for. Sorry Michael Harper.
11. Northwest Nazarene. Yikes. Last year was so much fun with NNU taking the conference by storm, but… it doesn’t change the fact that NNU isn’t an appealing school to attend and thus it is very hard to recruit well and maintain a quality coaching staff there.
Are we predicting who procures bids to the conference tournament? Absolutely not. Do we think this is the order teams will likely finish? No. Does it make sense using tangible evidence and logic? For the most part. Do we think ours will look anything like the actual Coaches poll? Not necessarily. This is pre-season. We’ll do another re-rank after non-conference play has concluded.
Leave your pre-season prognostication in the comments; if five people do, we’ll put up an official post with the combined results.