We continue our conference previews with the WAC. We have hosted a preview Twitter Space twice a week streaming live from the Mid-Major Madness account (@mid_madness), speaking with media members and coaches throughout the selected league.
For the full WAC Twitter Space, hit the link below:
To open the conversation, Mid-Major Madness writer Nick Lorensen and WAC Hoops Digest’s Kyle McDonald recapped what happened in the league last season and so far this offseason.
New Mexico State once again made the NCAA Tournament, picking up its first win in the Big Dance since 1993. Chris Jans parlayed that into a job at Mississippi State, opening the heading coach duties in Las Cruces to JUCO coaching legend Greg Heiar.
Along with him, the WAC welcomed in Southern Utah (formerly Big Sky) and UT Arlington (formerly Sun Belt).
To open the conversations with coaches, Southern Utah head coach Todd Simon (6:35) joined the program to speak about the Thunderbirds' upcoming first season in the WAC. Their offensive-based style of play is a lot different than the defensive heavy teams in the league.
“Everything we’re trying to do is pretty aggressive,” Simon said. “We’re going to get the tempo going a little bit. It’s going to be a little bit different than what the WAC is on paper for the majority of the league.”
Southern Utah finished 23-12 last season, winning 20+ games in consecutive seasons for the first time in D-I program history.
Following him, Sam Houston State head coach Jason Hooten (45:45) joined to speak about his program’s final season in the WAC (a short-lived tenure, with just two seasons in the league after coming over from the Southland). The Bearkats open their season on Monday against Oklahoma.
“Porter and I, our relationship goes back for a lot of years,” Hooten said. “We’ve been friends for a long, long, long time. He’s a great guy and a great coach. He’s done a fabulous job there. It’ll be a very tough game for us. Those games, predominantly over the years have been tough for us because of size and length. I do think we’re bigger than we’ve been and have some legitimate inside size. But their guards are really, really tall.”
Next season, Sam Houston State will play in the Conference USA.
Closing out the conversations with coaches, Heiar (1:15:15) hopped on to talk about his first season as the NMSU head coach. Heiar played and coached under Jans, so he kept tabs on the program.
“He’s my mentor,” Heiar said. “I mean, even last night after the game, I said that if Coach is watching this game he’s gonna be real disappointed in our defensive effort. I replaced him at Chipola, so this isn’t the first time I’ve replaced him as a head coach. Then we worked together at Wichita State for four years. We were next-door neighbors.”
New Mexico State will begin its title defense on Monday as it hosts D-2 New Mexico Highlands.
Kyle and Nick then continued the conversation by previewing every team in the league. To hear about your team, advance the recording to each time stamp.
1:42:05 — Abilene Christian
1:45:45 — Cal Baptist
1:49:10 — Grand Canyon
1:52:25 — Seattle U
1:54:40 — Stephen F.Austin
1:58:25 — Tarleton
2:01:35 — UTRGV
2:05:25 — UT Arlington
2:08:15 — Utah Tech
2:10:20 — Utah Valley
2:13:15 — POTY & Title Predictions