In a brand new conference it appears that the Utah State Aggies will have to gain respect the hard way.
Not only is the new conference uncharted territory for Utah State, the seeding that the Aggies received is the lowest in years.
"The first thing I'd say is that it's a little odd," USU head coach Stew Morrill. "We're used to being picked pretty high in the polls in the past. It was a different situation and a different league, but I'm always trying to tell our players that it's tradition, that's why we get picked to win the league. So it's different. When you talk about fifth and there's 11 teams, it's hard to decide what you think about that. Are we thought of as not being as good as the top of the league and not as bad as the bottom of the league? Are we just considered average? I don't think it really all matters. I think it's kind of fun for everybody to talk about, but the reality is that we've got to prove that we belong. I've been saying that all along since we got into the Mountain West. We've got to prove that we're competitive first and if we prove that, we have to prove we can contend and try and be a team that's up with the top of the league. You've got to be competitive before you can be a contender."
In the old Western Athletic Conference USU was accustomed to finishing at or near the top of every preseason poll -- so being selected fifth by MWC media is probably a kick in the pants to say the least.
2013-14 MOUNTAIN WEST MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
Rk. Team (1st-Place Votes) Points
1. N Mexico (23) 263
2. UNLV (1) 214
3. Boise State 214
4. San Diego St 212
5. Utah State 156
6. Colorado State 142
7. Wyoming 112
8. Fresno State 96
9. Nevada 84
10. Air Force 61
11. San José State 30
Not only were the Aggies not picked in the top three of a preseason conference media poll for the first time in many years, no USU player was selected to the all-conference preseason team.
That said, Utah State was the highest newcomer in the preseason poll; Nevada and San Jose State are also new to the MWC and both were slated to finish near the bottom of the standings.