Great West Conference Hoops

On Monday morning, the Great West Conference held its annual media teleconference, in which men’s and women’s coaches discussed their upcoming seasons and took questions from the media.

And when I say “media,” I mean 2-3 actual media representatives — including the Yankton Press & Dakotan.

Some highlights from the call

** The Houston Baptist men, picked second in the preseason poll, suffered an exhibition loss to NAIA McMurry on Saturday. Asked about it, Huskies head coach Ron Cottrell said, “We learned that we don’t rebound, don’t take care of the ball and don’t shoot well….We’ve got to work hard to get better.”

** In that loss for Houston Baptist, preseason Player of the Year Andrew Gonzalez scored 30 points. An inside-out threat, Gonzalez has a “target on his back because of that honor, but he’s really come in focused, harder then I’ve ever seen him,” said Cottrell.

** The North Dakota women will be looking to develop some depth this season as the Sioux defend their regular season league title. UND graduated four seniors and three starters who all averaged double figures. Head coach Gene Roebuck said, “It’ll be a huge transition for us because we had to replace numbers.”

** The South Dakota women will start three newcomers (transfers Alexis Yackley, Jodie Boss and Tempestt Wilson), and head coach Ryun Williams said he believes the reason his team was picked fourth in the preseason poll was because of Yackley — an Iowa State transfer.

** The South Dakota men will also be looking to repeat as conference champs, as the Coyotes also claimed the postseason championship. Referring to last season, head coach Dave Boots said, “We won every close game, which is unheard of. We were in so many games, and every one of them turned out our way. And that just doesn’t happen.”

** The Coyote men open their season Friday night at Nebraska. USD faced two Big Ten teams last season, Texas Tech and Kansas State, and neither were all that close.

** New Jersey Tech men’s head coach Jim Engles said he would have preferred his team be picked in the middle of the pack, rather than first. Though he joked, “I guess it’s better then being picked last.”

** It’s been quite a turnaround for the Highlanders men, who were winless in 2007-08, 1-30 in 2008-09 and 10-21 overall last season. Said Engles, “It’s great for our kids to have the opportunity to see some people are taking NJIT seriously.”

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