OGDEN, Utah – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team is picked last in both the media and coaches' preseason polls released by the Big Sky Conference on Thursday. It is the first time the Lumberjacks have been picked last in the conference preseason polls since the 1992-93 season.
"Our motivation is we have a lot of guys with a lot of pride," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "They want to come back and perform better than we did as a program last year. I don't think it is indicative of the program that has been built here at NAU by the previous coaches and alumni players. We have a lot to live up to in the past success."
NAU returns three starters and nine letter winners overall and welcome six newcomers to the program.
"What the poll does is indicate what other people think of us," said Murphy. "It is on us to change those views. Based on last year, they are right in their view point. We have players and a staff that wants to change that view of NAU basketball. It is what we are working towards every day."
Defending Big Sky Conference champion Montana has been selected first in the 2012-13 preseason men's basketball polls. Weber State, Northern Colorado, North Dakota and Portland State round out the Coaches' poll top five. Weber State is also picked second by the media, followed by Eastern Washington, Northern Colorado and Portland State.
The Grizzlies received eight first-place votes and 98 total points in the coaches' poll, and 24 first-place votes and 344 points in the media poll. Both polls were released by the league office Thursday. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
The 2013 Big Sky Championship will consist of the top seven teams from the regular-season standings. The championship will be played March 14-16 at the site of the regular-season champion. The No. 1 seed will receive a bye to the semifinals. There will be three first-round games on Thursday, March 14.
Teams will play 20 conference games this season in a true double round-robin format. The 2012-13 season begins on Nov. 9.
NAU has added a second exhibition game to the 2012-13 schedule. The Lumberjacks will open the season on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 4 p.m. in the Rolle Activity Center against Haskell, a NAIA four-year degree-granting university in Lawrence, Kansas, which offers post-high school education to members of registered Native American tribes in the United States. They compete in the Midlands Collegiate Athletics Conference. The two schools last met in the 2008-09 season.
"It will be a good experience for our guys to go through the game-day experience and another chance for our home fans to see us play." said Murphy.
NAU will play a second exhibition game against Adams State on Nov. 3.
|1. Montana (8)
|2. Weber State (3)||92|
|3. Northern Colorado
|4. North Dakota
|5. Portland State
|6. Eastern Washington
|7. Sacramento State||51|
|8. Montana State||48|
|9. Idaho State||25|
|10. Southern Utah
|11. Northern Arizona||14|
|1. Montana (24)||344|
|2. Weber State (8)
|3. Eastern Washington
|4. Northern Colorado||221|
|5. Portland State
|6. North Dakota
|7. Montana State||171|
|8. Sacramento State
|9. Idaho State||106|
|11. Northern Arizona||67|