Steve Smiley’s first season as head coach of the University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball team is shaping up to be a good one.
He’s got a returning All-Conference player (Sterling graduate Bodie Hume), a new assistant coach (Sterling and NJC standout Cory Fehringer), and now, the faith of the media and coaches.
The Bears have been picked to finish 3rd in the Big Sky by the media while the coaches have picked UNC to finish 5th.
UNC is set to return six lettermen, including Hume (the 2018 Big Sky Freshman of the Year). The Bears also earned two first place votes from the media.
Both polls saw Eastern Washington ranked first and Montana ranked second. The coaches picked Weber State to finish third and Portland State to finish 4th, with UNC finishing just 2 votes behind PSU.
Hume was selected to the preseason All-Conference team last week. Hume averaged 13.9 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists last season while shooting .395% from the field. Hume also averaged 1 block a game to lead the team.
UNC will begin their season on November 27 in Kansas City, Missouri in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Tipoff Classic against Southeast Missouri State. UNC finished last season with a record of 22-9, including a 15-5 mark in the Big Sky. The Big Sky canceled their conference tournament due to COVID-19. All additional postseason tournaments were canceled as well.
In both polls, UNC was picked to finish ahead of Southern Utah, Montana State, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State, Idaho State, and Idaho.
Additionally, UNC announced on Monday that fans would not be allowed to attend home games.
“As of Monday, November 16, the University is moving Colorado’s Safer at Home Orange COVID-19 response level, which limits large group gatherings to 50 people for inside events,” the school announced via press release. “Therefore, under the current conditions and state guidelines, UNC Athletics is unable to host fans at sporting events. Given the health concerns, UNC Athletics has made the difficult decision to suspend fans at games through the end of December in support of the University’s ongoing mitigation efforts to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
All UNC games will be broadcast on Pluto TV.