Basketball preseason poll results released

By Brandon Cline, Sports Editor

With basketball season officially getting underway on Oct. 5, the Big Sky released preseason polls and individual accolades during Media Day in Reno, Nevada, on Oct. 5, where the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be held for the foreseeable future.

After being picked to finish second by the coaches and third by the media last season, the defending men’s Big Sky champions were picked to finish third in both polls this season, after losing seven letterwinners from the season before. Weber State University and the University of Montana were ranked higher than the Eagles in both polls, with the Eagles grabbing one of the 17 first-place votes given out in the media poll.

Venky Jois was selected as the Big Sky’s preseason most valuable player in a poll done by the conference’s media relations directors and media members. Jois was also selected to the preseason All-Conference team, where he is joined by fellow teammate and sophomore Bogdun Bliznyuk, who was last season’s Big Sky Freshman of the Year.

Jois averaged 16.7 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game last season, and was second in the conference in blocks per game with 2.2. Bliznyuk averaged 12 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game and shot at an astounding 55.8 percent clip from 3-point range last season.

In the women’s preseason poll, the EWU women’s basketball team was selected to finish sixth in the media poll and ninth in the coaches poll. Last season, the Eagles were predicted to finish third by the media and fifth by the coaches. The Eagles would end up finishing fourth with a 12-6 conference record and an overall record of 21-12.

Senior Hayley Hodgins was selected onto the preseason All-Conference team, with the University of North Dakota’s Mia Loyd being selected as the preseason most valuable player.

Hodgins averaged 16.3 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game last season, and shot 42.4 percent from the field. Her 1,185 career points rank seventh all-time in program history, and needs 537 points this season to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. She finished last season with 538 points.