Going into the 2012-13 season, there has been as much change within the WAC as there has been in any conference in the last 5 years.
Three of last season’s conference teams have departed, to be replaced by 5 new teams, including (obviously) Seattle University. But based on the amount of roster turnover, along with their recent history, it looks like the Redhawks will struggle to find themselves among the top tier in the WAC this year.
Here’s a quick look at which conference teams look likely to challenge for the title, which could surprise, and which are still building.
Top tier – the true contenders
Denver – 22-9 last year in Sun Belt, returning 4 starters. Beat Utah State on road last year, had a bunch of nice non-conference wins and played in a fairly strong Sun Belt conference, finishing 11-5.
New Mexico State – 26-10 last season, made NCAA tournament, returning 2 starters. The Aggies lost 40ppg in 3 starters to graduation. They were dominant in New Mexico, going 14-3 at home last season.
Utah State – 21-16 last year, returning 3 starters. The returnees include Preston Medlin, possibly the best player in the conference. Coach Stew Morrill has a career 345-119 record at USU.
Mid tier – teams with talent that could surprise
UT Arlington – 24-9 last year in Southland, made NIT, returning 3 starters. They did lose their 2 leading scorers. The solid 2012 record included a 1-1 total against WAC teams last year and a loss to Washington in the NIT.
Idaho – 19-14 last year, returning 2 starters. One returning starter is star center Kyle Barone, maybe the best big man in the conference.
Louisiana Tech – 18-16 last year, returning 3 starters. Tech features quite a few solid guards but virtually no proven post players.
Lower tier – teams with more questions than answers
UT San Antonio – 18-14 last year in Southland, returning 2 starters. The Roadrunners lost 3 games in OT last year, and have a challenging early schedule, with only 1 regular season home game before WAC play begins.
Seattle – 12-15 last year as independent, returning 2 starters. In all, there are 8 returning players for the Redhawks, only one of which came to Seattle U directly from High School (Jarell Flora).
San Jose State – 9-22 last year, returning 3 starters. The returning starters averaged 22 ppg combined, but the Spartans do add transfer Chris Cunningham from Santa Clara.
Texas State – 13-17 last year in Southland, returning 3 starters. It could be a long season for the Bobcats, who will play in the Great Alaska Shootout. Transfer Corey Stern is from Rainier Beach High School in Seattle.