We continue our conference previews with the Mountain West. Every week on Twitter, we preview two conferences streaming live from the Mid-Major Madness account (@mid_madness), speaking with media members and coaches throughout the selected league.
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To open the conversation, Mid-Major Madness writer Nick Lorensen recapped what happened in the Mountain West last season and so far this offseason. Last season, Boise State won both the regular season and conference tournament titles and was one of four teams in the conference to make the NCAA Tournament, although none of them won a game in the Big Dance.
The league should be fun once again with San Diego State and Wyoming both being potential Top 25 teams.
To open the conversation with coaches, Wyoming assistant coach Marc Rodgers (4:30) joined to speak about the Cowboys this season. Both Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado return, making for one of the most dangerous duos in college basketball.
“I mean combined, essentially 40 points and not even accounting for assists and rebounds that those guys put together,” said Rodgers. “There’s not a word that could describe how important it is to get those guys back. When you get two guys like that who have a goal in mind, in terms of a goal in mind for themselves as individuals in college, themselves with the team this season, and goals for themselves after college basketball. I think those two guys are so locked in, that it makes it a little bit easier for us. You can sense it on them: ‘we’re not playing around today,’ ‘you better bring your stuff today to practice.’”
Wyoming will be a fringe Top 25 team heading into the season.
Following him, Bronco Nation News’ B.J. Rains joined to co-host an interview with Boise State head coach Leon Rice (32:40). The reigning champion Broncos return a good portion of that team this season, including Marcus Shaver, Tyson Degenhart and a lot of the supporting class.
“We got a lot of guys who are ready to jump into a bigger role,” Rice said. “Guys who were important to last year's team, like Naje’ (Smith), Lukas (Milner), Max (Rice). I think they can fill a little bigger role this year, and they want to. They’re hungry too, and they’ve worked too. I think you’re going to see growth in the guys like that.”
The Broncos will open their title-defending season against South Dakota State on Nov. 9.
Finishing up the conversations with coaches, San Diego State assistant coach Dave Velasquez (53:35) joined to speak about the program at his alma mater. The Aztecs will be a Top 20 team in the country this preseason.
“I’ve been fortunate to be around three other 30-win teams and this team is special,” Velasquez said. “Until you actually get it on the floor, until you get it underneath the lights until you get it in front of the 12,000 people at Viejas, you really don’t know what you really have. We love our pieces. We love our talent. We love our maturity. We love how much they play together. They love being around each other. So, you can kinda feel there’s a special feeling around this team, but you really don’t know as a coach.”
San Diego State currently ranks in the Top 25 in multiple publications. They’ll look to make a bigger name in the Maui Invitational.
Nick then continued the conversation by previewing every team in the league. To hear about your team, advance the recording to each time stamp.
1:15:35 Air Force
1:18:50 Colorado State
1:34:30 Fresno State
1:20:55 New Mexico
1:26:20 San Jose State
1:29:55 Utah State
1:33:15 POTY & Tournament Teams
Along with the Mountain West, preview articles on the MAAC and OVC are released this week. Stay tuned for the Twitter Space previews on the Independents, Ivy League and NEC.