On Wednesday, UConn men's basketball team was selected No. 2 behind defending national champion Louisville in the inaugural season for the new American Athletic Conference. The announcement ws made at the first annual AAC Media Day held in Memphis.
The Huskies went 20-10 last year under first-year head coach Kevin Ollie, making Ollie the first UConn men's basketball coach to win 20 or more games in school history. Two years removed from their third NCAA title, the Huskies return all five starters—and their top six scorers—from last year's team. Guard Shabazz Napier, who averaged 17.1 points per game last season, was unanimously chosen to The American Preseason All-Conference First Team, while guard Ryan Boatright (15.4 ppg, 131 assists) was named to the Second Team.
Louisville, meanwhile, joined the Huskies and six other schools with three or more national titles. The Cardinals closed the 2012-13 season with 16 consecutive wins, capped by successful runs in the Big East and NCAA tournaments, to finish 35-5. Louisville is led by Russ Smith, who averaged 18.7 points per game to go with 82 steals and 116 assists. Forward Chane Behanan, (9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game) joins Smith on the Preseason All-Conference First Team, while forward Montrezl Harrell (5.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg) was named to the second team. The Cardinals also return forward Luke Hancock, who was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. Hancock averaged 8.1 points per game for the season. Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is the only head coach in NCAA history to lead three different teams into the Final Four, having done so with Providence and Kentucky in the past.
The Cardinals received all nine eligible first-place votes in the balloting of the coaches, who could not vote for their own teams. UConn, which received the other first-place vote, edged Memphis for second in the preseason poll.
The complete 2013-14 AAC Preseason Coaches Poll follows:
Rank Team/First-Place Votes Points
1 Louisville/9 81
2 Connecticut/1 69
3 Memphis 68
4 Cincinnati 58
5 Temple 40
6 Southern Methodist 39
7 Houston 28
8 South Florida 27
9 Central Florida 24
10 Rutgers 16
The 2013-14 season begins Nov. 8, when UConn faces Maryland at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Conference play begins with a New Year's Eve tripleheader on ESPN2. That night UConn will be at Houston. Tip-off is 9 p.m. ET. The first American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship tourament will take place March 12-15 at FedEx Forum in Memphis.
AAC Preseason Player of the Year: Russ Smith, Louisville
AAC Preseason Rookie of the Year: Keith Frazier, SMU
AAC Preseason First Team:
- Sean Kilpatric, G, Cincinnati
- Shabazz Napier, G, Connecticut*
- Chane Behanan, F, Louisville
- Russ Smith, G, Louisville*
- Joe Jackson, G, Memphis*
AAC Preseason Second Team:
- Isaiah Sykes, G, UCF
- Ryan Boatright,G, Connecticut
- TaShawn Thomas, F, Houston
- Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville
- Anthony Collins, G, USF
- Victor Rudd, F, USF
* Unanimous Selection