Two Mountain West Teams Who May Not Live Up to Preseason Predictions

Two Mountain West Teams Who May Not Live Up to Preseason Predictions

Boise State

Two Mountain West Teams Who May Not Live Up to Preseason Predictions



Next up is Nevada who returns less Division 1 experience than any in the conference and in Steve Alford’s first season back in the Mountain West, this may or may not be a problem. Now the Alford led Wolf Pack were picked fourth by the media and I could see them finishing lower for a couple of reasons.

The amount of turnover on this roster is concerning to start. A good chunk of the previous year’s roster was lost due to graduation (six players in total) which included four of the team’s top five scorers. But that should have been foreseen by the Musselman coaching staff and something the new coaching staff would have been aware of upon hiring.

Where Alford did a good job was controlling a mass exodus that appeared to be beginning in Reno after former coach Eric Mussleman’s departure for the Arkansas Razorbacks and the SEC. Only losing four players to the transfer market was impressive even considering that group included former five star and McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown who had a less than stellar season behind a veteran front court.

He was able to retain guys like senior guard Jazz Johnson, junior guard Jalen Harris, and keep players like junior forward Eric Parrish committed. And even though Alford’s group inherits only six guys who have any division one playing experience (three of them with experience at Nevada) many are high on the Wolf Pack in their first season without Eric Musselman.

First off, I think they have some really talented players. Look for Johnson to be in control of the ball a lot this season as he is the only player on the roster who averaged more than 10 points a game returning from last years NCAA tournament team.

Although he should receive help from Louisiana Tech transfer Harris (15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game in 17-18 with the Bulldogs) and junior college transfer Eric Parrish who averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game in 17-18 as a freshman for Akron in the MAC. I think they need senior Nisre Zouzoua step up his production big time this year after only averaging a little over a point a game last year compared to over 20.3 a game back in 2017-2018 for Bryant.

Now besides the obviously new and inexperienced roster we also have to consider Steve Alford being in his first year back in the Mountain West since his departure from Albuquerque back in 2013. And since then we have seen coaching changes at every school except for Boise State and Air Force with Leon Rice and Dave Pilipovich being the only coaches left in the Mountain West from back when Alford use to cut down the nets in Las Vegas come tournament time.

Although he went 2-0 against Mountain West competition during his time at UCLA I think the conference has changed since his time in wearing his cherry blazer. Traditional power houses like New Mexico and UNLV aren’t what they used to be, Fresno State and Utah State have been impactful additions from the WAC. Something else to note is whether or not Nevada will fall victim to the transition year blues.

It hit Colorado State last year in Niko Medved’s first year in Fort Collins and hit Paul Weir in his first season back in 2017-2018 before making a memorable conference tournament run. And of course you can look back at last year and see Craig Smith and Justin Hutson excel in their first years but we have already spoken to the surprise element Craig Smith’s team had last year and Hutson was inheriting two all Mountain West guards in Braxton Huggins and Deshon Taylor. Plus an improved Nate Grimes who made a huge jump in production, enough to impress our staff and make our preseason first team all mountain west list. 

Now I was still a part of a staff that picked both of these teams to finish in the top five but I also feel like year in and year out we see the 4th-8th spots become extremely interchangeable for a lot of teams. Just look at the 4th-9th spots of last year’s standings.

A win or loss here or there for a few teams has that three-way tie for seventh looking a bit different and if Boise State wins those five close games that were mentioned earlier than they live up to that number four ranking they received in the preseason poll. Or if Jaquan Lyle doesn’t go down with a torn Achilles before he plays in a game for the Lobos last year, they might win some more games and avoid that same three-way tie with Boise.

Now these preseason rankings are simply guesses by the media and fans alike who can never truly know what a teams performance will look like not being able to predict things like injuries, academic issues, team chemistry, or coaching performances. But this was an attempt to predict some issues that may come up for two very talented teams. 




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