The UTSA Roadrunners carried plenty of motivation into practices this fall. They didn’t have the success they wanted last year, and they wanted to make sure they did everything they could to make amends.
For sure, they didn’t need a preseason poll to get fired up to come to practice.
All that notwithstanding, waking up to news that they had been picked to finish last in the official Conference USA preseason poll gave at least a few of the players an extra something to think about.
“That was the first thing I saw on Twitter today,” Roadrunners forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah said after Thursday’s practice. “I can’t lie to you. It (ticked) me off a little bit. I know it (ticked) some of the guys off because we were talking about it.
“You can’t worry about other people’s opinions. We know what we got. We just got to stay together and prove people wrong and prove ourselves right.”
For the second-straight season, UAB has been voted by the C-USA’s head coaches as the preseason favorite to win the regular-season championship.
Western Kentucky was pegged second and North Texas third. UTSA was picked 11th, or, last, in the poll. Questioned about the news, UTSA coach Steve Henson shrugged it off.
“I just told (players) to be smart at how they handled it,” Henson said. “But I’m sure they didn’t like the way it looked. It is what it is. Some of them will use it as extra motivation. I’m not the kind that’s going to print it out and stick it on the lockers.
“I got enough reasons to be motivated to play good basketball. My concern was to have a good practice today, not where we were picked in the league.”
One certainty is that nobody will remember the preseason poll five years from now.
“No, but some will use it as motivation,” Henson said. “It’s not the right way to get motivated to be a good team. There’s a lot of good reasons to compete and to line up and try to have a good practice and have a good first game.
“I’m (thinking) more about being a better team when we line up to play Schreiner in two weeks. That’s what I’m focused on.”
The Roadrunners play Schreiner in their one and only exhibition on Nov. 2. On Nov. 7, they open the regular season against at home against Trinity.
C-USA preseason poll
3. North Texas
4. Middle Tennessee
5. Florida Atlantic
6. Louisiana Tech
Preseason player of the Year
Jordan Walker, UAB
Alijah Martin, Florida Atlantic – sophomore guard
Cobe Williams, Louisiana Tech – junior guard
Teafale Lenard Jr., Middle Tennessee – sophomore guard
Tylor Perry, North Texas – senior guard
Quincy Olivari, Rice – junior guard
Eric Gaines, UAB – sophomore guard
Jordan Walker, UAB – senior guard
Emmanuel Akot, WKU – graduate senior guard
Dayvion McKnight, WKU* – junior guard
Jamarion Sharp, WKU – senior center