Five Burning Mountain West Basketball Questions As Practice Begins
MWC hoops questions that will be asked until the ball is tipped in November
Practice begins across the country Tuesday
The first official practice for the upcoming 2018-19 men’s basketball season will take place this week. College basketball is right around the corner.
Here are the five burning questions surrounding Mountain West basketball as we look to turn the calendar to October.
How will Eric Musselman sort out his team’s minutes?
This is a question no one knows the answer to – or should even pretend knowing – until the ball is tipped in Lawlor Events Center on November 6. Only one non-freshman on the team (Lindsey Drew) averaged fewer than 13 points per game in their most recent season. Eric Musselman’s group is undoubtedly the deepest in the nation. As good a problem it is to have, the Nevada coaching staff has its hands full ensuring that the team’s minutes are distributed in a way that puts the Wolf Pack in the best position to win while keeping the individuals pleased.
Will arrests lead to missed time for Wyoming’s Banks, Boise State’s Dembley?
It’s been a turbulent offseason for Mountain West newcomers. Boise State guard Patrick Dembley, who spent the previous season at Iowa Western Community College, was arrested two days after arriving in Boise after a physical altercation. Earlier this month, Wyoming’s A.J. Banks – formerly of Pratt Community College in Kansas – was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, underage consumption, and speeding. Boise State’s Leon Rice and Wyoming’s Allen Edwards have yet to make official disciplinary actions.
When will Carlton Bragg return to the court?
Bragg, the former Kansas Jayhawk and Arizona State Sun Devil, enters his first season with the New Mexico Lobos with an unknown welcome date. Not expected to be eligible until December, Bragg has petitioned the NCAA to be immediately eligible and appear in the season’s opening game. It has been reported that the NCAA has received the former five-star recruit’s request and that the university should hear back shortly. The NCAA’s decision could play a huge part in how New Mexico’s non-conference season unfolds.
How quickly can the first-year coaches turn around their programs?
The Mountain West will feature three first-year head coaches this season, including Colorado State’s Niko Medved, Fresno State’s Justin Hutson, and Utah State’s Craig Smith. Hutson is the only one of the trio to have never coached from the head coaching position, as Medved (79-88 over five seasons) and Smith (79-55 over four seasons) have both enjoyed modest success over the past few years. Each of the three coaches, however, have their sights on finishing in the top half of the Mountain West this season.
Who will chase Nevada at the top of the standings?
This question won’t be answered until deep into January or even February, but it could determine how many teams the Mountain West sends to the NCAA Tournament. Nevada is the runaway favorite, then it’s largely expected either San Diego State or New Mexico will charge for league’s silver medal, if not the top spot. Most pundits have Nevada as the only tournament lock heading into the year, but both San Diego State and New Mexico will be knocking on the AP Top 25 door early on.
Eli Boettger is the lead basketball writer at Mountain West Wire. He’s covered Mountain West basketball since 2015 and his work has been featured on Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Yahoo Sports, MSN, and other platforms. Boettger is a current USBWA member.