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DENVER — The University of New Mexico Lobos men’s basketball team has been selected third in the preseason media poll released by the league earlier this week.
Along with the poll, the conference released its preseason all-conference teams and honorees. Lobos Dairese Gary was named to the preseason all-conference team, along with Drew Gordon, who picked up Newcomer of the Year honors.
The Lobos garnered three first-place votes and 214 votes from a panel of 30 media members.
Last year, despite being picked fifth in the preseason poll, the Lobos won their second consecutive Mountain West title with a 14-2 conference record, winning their final 14 conference games.
The team went on to post a school record 30 wins and win an NCAA tournament game for the first time in 11 years.
Last year, the Lobos had four players honored by the conference in the postseason, including Darington Hobson, who took Player of the Year honors, and head coach Steve Alford, who garnered his second straight Coach of the Year award.
In talking about this year’s team at the Mountain West media days, Alford alluded to his two starters from last year, graduate Roman Martinez and NBA-bound Hobson, saying “those are two guys that are hard to replace, but we have two transfers that are going to have to step up in a hurry.”
Those transfers are Emmanuel Negadu from Tennessee and Drew Gordon from UCLA, who join three starters and six letterwinners from 2009.
Gordon, who will be ineligible until the final six game before MWC play starts, was named the preseason Newcomer of the Year. Gordon averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds for UCLA last season in the first semester over six games before transferring to New Mexico. He also played in 34 of UCLA’s 35 games as a freshman.
One player who has already developed is Gary, from Elkhart, Ind. The lone senior averaged 13.3 points and 3.9 assists per game, and was named both first team All-Mountain West and All-MWC Defensive Team. Gary was at his best late last season, averaging 19.8 points per game over the final seven contests, including the Lobos’ four postseason games.
“As long as I have Dairese Gary at every jump ball, we are going to be in games,” Alford said. “He’s just one of those special guys. He can make the game ugly and win, he can make a game pretty and win but as long as he is there at the tip we feel very confident that we have a chance.”
San Diego State was ranked No. 1 in the media poll, garnering 21 first-place votes and 261 total points. BYU finished second in the poll.