BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The Western Washington University men’s basketball team is ranked No.10 in the National Basketball Coaches Association Preseason Top 25 Poll announced Friday, Nov. 1.
The Vikings are coming off back-to-back 31-win seasons and NCAA Division II West Regional championships. They won the national championship in 2012 and reached the national semifinals in 2013.
WWU was not ranked in the 2011 NABC Preseason poll and was No.6 to start the 2012 campaign,
Metro State, which reached the national title game last March, is ranked No.1 with Seattle Pacific No.2. The Falcons reached the West Regional championship contest in each of the last two seasons.
Two starters return for WWU. They are senior guard Richard Woodworth (Bellevue/Newport) and senior center Austin Bragg (Longview/Mark Morris), both pre-season all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selections who started all 34 games last season.
Woodworth was a second-team all-GNAC pick and West Regional Most Outstanding Player last season, averaging 11.1 points, 3.4 assists and a team-high 1.4 steals while shooting 43.8 percent (42-of-96) on 3-pointers. He is the lone starter left from the national championship squad, and enters the year with 812 career points.
Bragg averaged 9.1 points and team-highs of 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks to earn all-GNAC honorable mention.
The other returnee to see extensive action last season was junior forward Anye Turner (Olympia/Black Hills), who contributed 4.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, shooting 59.3 percent (48-of-81) from the field.
There is also a host of newcomers. Senior guard Robert Harris, Jr. (Kent/Rainier Beach), a transfer from NCAA I Idaho, figures to have the most immediate impact. He averaged 4.7 points and 1.8 assists for the Vandals last season while making 12 starts.
The Vikings open the season with eight consecutive home games, including tough Division II non-league contests against perennial West Region power BYU-Hawaii on Nov. 19 and Metro State on Nov. 30.