Huskies Picked 2nd In AAC Coaches Preseason Poll

Coach Kevin Ollie is interviewed on Media Day.
Coach Kevin Ollie is interviewed on Media Day. UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM

Oct. 16, 2013

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The UConn men's basketball team was picked second, behind only defending NCAA champion Louisville, senior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) was a unanimous preseason first-team pick, and junior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) was a preseason second-team selection in the American Athletic Conference preseason coaches' poll, announced Wednesday morning at the league's Media Day at the FedExForum. 

With three starters returning from last year's NCAA championship team, Louisville was the unanimous favorite to win the first American Athletic Conference men's basketball title. Louisville guard Russ Smith, the leading scorer from the national championship team, was chosen as the American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year, while SMU freshman guard Keith Frazier was named The American's Preseason Rookie of the Year. 

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 Louisville's first-place vote, had 69 total points, edging Memphis (68) for second in the preseason poll. 

The Huskies went 20-10 in its first year under Kevin Ollie, who became the first Huskies coach in to win 20 games in his first season. The Huskies, who are two years removed from an NCAA title of their own, return all five starters and their top six scorers from 2012-13. Napier, who averaged 17.1 points per game last season, was an All-Big East first team pick. Boatright averaged 15.4 points and had 131 assists.

Forward Chane Behanan, who averaged 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 Most Outstanding Player and averaged 8.1 points per game for the season.


 

 

Memphis was third in the preseason poll after registering its 11th  straight 20-win season, enjoyed a 31-5 season in 2012-13, capped by regular-season and tournament titles in Conference USA. The Tigers went 16-0 in league play last season and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championship. 

Cincinnati was fourth in the preseason poll with 58 points. The Bearcats look to make their fourth straight NCAA Championship appearance in 2014 as they return a pair of starters from last year's 22-12 squad. 

Temple was picked fifth in the preseason poll with 40 points. The Owls have made six straight NCAA tournament appearances and return two starters from last year's squad, which went 24-10 and dropped a close battle with top-seeded Indiana in the third round of the national tournament. 

SMU was tabbed sixth in the preseason poll with 39 points. The Mustangs return all five starters from last year's 15-17 team, but coach Larry Brown expects that group to be challenged by an influx of highly regarded newcomers. 

Houston was seventh in the preseason poll with 28 points. The Cougars, who won 20 games last season and reached the second round of the College Basketball Invitational tournament, have three starters back from 2012-13. 

USF was eighth in the poll. The Bulls were 12-19 a year ago, but return a pair of Preseason All-Conference selections in guard Anthony Collins and forward Victor Rudd. 

UCF was picked ninth in the preseason poll. The Knights return four starters from a team that went 20-11 last season, including versatile guard Isaiah Sykes. 

Rutgers was tabbed for 10th in the preseason poll in the first year on the bench for Eddie Jordan at his alma mater. The Scarlet Knights have three starters returning from a team that went 15-16 last season and should receive a boost from the immediate eligibility of some key transfers. 

Joining Napier and Louisville's Smith on the league's preseason All-Conference First Team are Louisville forward Chane Behanan, Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick, and Memphis guard Joe Jackson.

Selected with Boatright on the Second Team are Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell, UCF's Isaiah Sykes, Houston's TaShawn Thomas, and USF teammates Michael Collins and Victor Rudd.

The 2013-14 season begins Nov. 8, when UConn takes on Maryland at Barclays Center, while conference play begins with a New Year's Eve tripleheader on ESPN2. That night (9 p.m.) UConn will be at Houston. The first American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship will take place March 12-15 at FedEx Forum in Memphis. 

2013-14 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
PRESEASON COACHES' POLL

Rank

Team (First-Place Votes)

Pts.

1.

Louisville (9) *

81

2.

UConn (1)

69

3.

Memphis

68

4.

Cincinnati

58

5.

Temple

40

6.

SMU

39

7.

Houston

28

8.

USF

27

9.

UCF

24

10.

Rutgers

16

2013-14 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
PRESEASON INDIVIDUAL HONORS

Preseason Player of the Year

Russ Smith, G, Sr., Louisville

Preseason Rookie of the Year

Keith Frazier, G, Fr., SMU

Preseason All-Conference Teams

First Team

Sean Kilpatrick, G, Cincinnati

Shabazz Napier, G, UConn *

Chane Behanan, F, Louisville

Russ Smith, G, Louisville *

Joe Jackson, G, Memphis *

Second Team

Isaiah Sykes, G, UCF

Ryan Boatright, G, UConn

TaShawn Thomas, F, Houston

Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville

Anthony Collins, G, USF

Victor Rudd, F, USF

* unanimous selection