Talking to a handful of WAC coaches recently, I learned that with so much turnover -- seven teams from last season are gone, six newcomers have arrived, and three programs have new head coaches -- they can't be expected to have much intel on the competition.
Fifth-year Seattle U coach Cameron Dollar, a virtual elder statesman in the conference, is still learning about the teams that will dominate his DVD player once the Redhawks' WAC slate begins on Jan. 4, 2014, against Missouri-Kansas City. But he was able to give a few observations after a recent practice:
Cal State Bakersfield: "Tough on defense. They're scrappy, they play hard and they really get after you defensively."
Chicago State: "Homegrown Chicago talent. Coach (Tracy) Dildy has been living and recruiting in Chicago for as long as I've known him; about 15 years now. Expect them to continue to get talent out of Chicago, which we all know is a really good area for basketball."
Grand Canyon: "They're more veteran than people realize. Last year in D-II they were a pretty good team, and they're bringing a lot of those kids over to D-I. They'll be similar to how we were when we had some D-II holdovers."
Idaho: "Efficient. Coach (Don) Verlin is one of the best that I've seen at running a good offense and getting his guys quality shots. They lost the big guy (2013 WAC Player of the Year center Kyle Barone), but I think they'll continue to be as efficient on the offensive end."
Missouri-Kansas City: "Up-tempo, pressing. (New head coach) Kareem Richardson was an assistant at Louisville, and he'll bring that style over with him: athletic, super active and up-tempo."
New Mexico State: "Kings of the hill, baby. Two years in a row. What's funny is that all the teams that left (the WAC), they still would've had to go through New Mexico State to get a championship. So it's no different from one year to the next. They're at the top of the heap, so to win the championship, we have to go through them."
Texas-Pan American: "They have a veteran coach (Dan Hipsher) who's been around for a long time. That's one destination I don't know much about, nor have I been to, so I'm excited to go down there and play. I've heard great things. Coach has been around the block a couple of times. He's a proven builder of teams. I expect them to have a quality squad."
Utah Valley: "Almost like a clone of Idaho. Extremely efficient. We've played them a bunch of times, so we're more acquainted with them. Their center (Ben Aird) is tough and really efficient."
READ: Redhawk Nation's WAC season preview