Coming off a 2016-17 Western Athletic Conference regular season title, Cal State Bakersfield was picked to finish third in the conference this season by the WAC coaches. The media slotted CSUB a spot lower, in fourth.
Both polls were released as part of the WAC’s media day on Wednesday in Denver.
"I think it's a compliment to our league," CSUB head coach Rod Barnes said, noting the WAC is deep enough that a 25-win team last year could be picked third or fourth.
"I'm really pleased with that," Barnes added of the ranking, "because of the loss that we have of some all-conference guys."
CSUB redshirt junior guard Damiyne Durham was named a first team preseason All-WAC player by the coaches and a second team player by the media. Roadrunners redshirt senior point guard Brent Wrapp earned a second team spot from the coaches and media. Senior forward Shon Briggs was added to the second team by the coaches.
Grand Canyon was the consensus favorite and New Mexico State ranked second among the coaches and media. Grand Canyon — in its first season of Division I postseason eligibility — returns four starters from one year ago, including preseason WAC player of the year pick Joshua Braun.
The difference in the polls came at No. 3, where the coaches had the Roadrunners and the media placed Utah Valley. CSUB beat UVU, 81-80, in the WAC tournament in quadruple overtime last year.
Durham, the Roadrunners’ 3-point ace, was third in the conference with a 33.9 success rate from beyond the arc last year. Wrapp led the conference with a 2.30 assist-to-turnover ratio but injured his foot, Barnes said on Oct. 2, and is out indefinitely. Briggs and Wrapp both need to work on their shooting this season, Barnes said, but Briggs is a more complete player than last year.
The trio will have to make up for CSUB losing three of its top four scorers from last year.
The Roadrunners open the season in less than a month on Nov. 10 at home against Whittier College. CSUB’s non-conference schedule is highlighted by games at Arizona, Arkansas and UCLA. All three made the NCAA Tournament last season and Barnes said on the first day of practice that this is the team’s “toughest schedule by far.”