Media Pick Bama Hoops to Win SEC West

Ronald Steele

Oct. 20, 2008

TUSCALOOSA - The University of Alabama basketball team has been picked as the favorite to win the Southeastern Conference's Western Division in 2008-09 in the league's Preseason Media Poll. The voting was done by a 30-member voting panel consisting of both media that cover the SEC and national media members. The Preseason Media Poll was released by the SEC on Monday afternoon in conjunction with this week's SEC Basketball Media Days in Birmingham.

Mark Gottfried's 2008-09 version of the Crimson Tide received 11 first-place votes and 151 total points in the Western Division voting to edge out LSU which received 11 first-place votes and 147 points. The Western Division saw Ole Miss with eight votes, followed by Mississippi State, Auburn and Arkansas.

"I think our league is a great league, so the fact that there are those that think we have a chance to win the West is nice, but I've been through this league enough to know that in October, that means very little," said Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried. "So on one hand it's good that people think that we can have a good team, but the bottom line is reality and how good of a team we can become. That's what our goal is, so we're not going to pay much attention to it."

Two Alabama players, senior point guard Ronald Steele and senior guard Alonzo Gee, were voted Second Team All-SEC.

Tennessee was the panel's choice to repeat as the league's overall champion. The Volunteers earned 23 first-place votes and 172 total points to win the SEC Eastern Division. Florida finished second in the Eastern voting with five first-place votes and 143 points while Kentucky received two first-place votes and 130 points. Vanderbilt was predicted to finish fourth in the division, South Carolina fifth and 2008 SEC Tournament Champion Georgia was predicted to finish sixth in the East.

Tyler Smith, a junior forward from Tennessee, was voted the Preseason Player of the Year with 17 votes. Kentucky sophomore Patrick Patterson received nine votes, South Carolina's junior guard Devan Downey received two votes, and LSU senior guard Marcus Thornton and Florida sophomore guard/forward Nick Calathes both received one vote apiece for Preseason Player of the Year.

The Preseason First Team All-SEC list includes Patterson, Smith, Calathes, Downey and Vanderbilt center A.J. Ogilvy. The Second Team All-SEC squad includes Thornton, Mississippi State forward/center Jarvis Varnado, Steele, LSU forward Tasmin Mitchell, Ole Miss guard Chris Warren and Gee.

Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Each media panel member voted for one team as an overall conference champion and a five-player All-SEC team.