R-MC Earns 10 First Place Votes, Remaining Two to VWC
FOREST, Va. --- Randolph-Macon College stands atop the ODAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll for the second straight season, earning 10 first place votes on the way to 120 total points. Virginia Wesleyan College received the remaining two top nods and 111 tallies to sit in second. Eastern Mennonite University and Guilford College started competition early as the two squads are tied for third with 91 points in the annual survey of the league's head coaches.
Two squads made a trip to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament in 2013-14, increasing the conference's representation on the national stage to 14 teams since the 2009-10 season. Last year, Virginia Wesleyan punched its automatic ticket to the field of 62 by winning its sixth overall ODAC title via a 77-74 thriller over Hampden-Sydney College in the conference championship game. The crown marked the second for the Marlins in the past three years.
VWC, making its 10th straight appearance in the national bracket, was joined by fellow perennial qualifier Randolph-Macon as an at-large entrant. The Yellow Jackets hosted their first round matchup against DeSales University, but were unable to take advantage of home court in falling to the Bulldogs, 77-74, in overtime. Virginia Wesleyan also was awarded hosting duties by the national committee, and the Marlins turned that into a pair of wins in the Jane P. Batten Center. They topped Johns Hopkins University, 84-72, in round one and followed that with a 79-74 triumph over Wesley College the next day. VWC traveled to the University of Mary Washington for sectional action, where the Marlins fell to the host Eagles, 74-70.
Last season, just seven all-conference performers returned to courts across the ODAC. The story is much the same this year as eight All-ODAC honorees are back. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find a bare cupboard in the league, a notion that was recognized by the national pundits as two squads open the season ranked in the D3hoops.com Top-25 Preseason Poll. Randolph-Macon is slotted 11th, while Virginia Wesleyan sits 19th. Reigning national champion the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater stands atop the chart voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, sports information directors and media members from across the country.
Randolph-Macon (20-7 overall, 14-2 in the ODAC in 2013-14) has seen considerable success under reigning ODAC/Bob Johnson Coach of the Year, Nathan Davis. The Yellow Jackets have made five straight trips to the NCAA Tournament in his five years back on the sidelines at his alma mater, winning a pair of ODAC titles along the way. All-ODAC Third Team honorees Marcus Badger (8.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 97 ast, 43 stl) and Joe Hassell (9.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, .500 fg%) headline an experienced roster that features eight seniors. Among that group are guards Connor Sullivan (11.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 47 ast, 38 stl) and Trent Walker (4.2 ppg), as well as sharp-shooting forward Chris Hamilton (6.9 ppg, 49 3fg, .462 3fg%) and big man Akeem Holmes (8.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg). Forward Lamont Moore (6.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) started 26 games last season.
Virginia Wesleyan (24-7, 12-4) has a couple of big pieces to replace in 2014-15, including former two-time ODAC/Kurt Axe Memorial Player of the Year D.J. Woodmore. Sophomore guard Khory Moore (11.7 rpg, 39 stl, 62 3fg) looks to keep the pedigree of top-class Marlin guards running after his ODAC Rookie of the Year season in 2013-14. Senior wing Greg Montgomery (6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 62 ast, 33 stl) and his classmate, forward Cam Owens (7.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 46 3fg), look to increase their roles this season. The senior leadership will be needed as VWC's roster currently features 15 underclassmen, including seven first year student-athletes.
Eastern Mennonite (17-11, 10-6) returns all but one starter from last season, led by a pair of all-conference standouts. All-ODAC First Team forward David Falk (14.1 ppg, .597 fg%) led the ODAC in rebounding (13.4 rpg), blocked shots (82) and double-doubles (16). All-ODAC Third Team wing Marcel Crump (17.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 73 ast) provides perimeter and slashing punch as the Royals leading scorer. Guard James Williams (8.3 ppg, 52 ast, .500 fg%) and wing Ryan Yates (13.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 61 ast, 39 stl) spent time in the starting lineup, as did wings Kwa McDonald (3.9 ppg) and Woody Furbush (3.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, .500 fg%).
Guilford (17-9, 11-5) has just one starter back in the fold this season, but it's a big one in leading scorer and All-ODAC Second Team guard Matt McCarthy (14.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 73 ast, 34 stl, 61 3fg, .851 ft%). The Quakers got a lot of production out of several first year players in 2013-14, led by the contributions from forward Trever Hyatt (11.4 ppg, 46 3fg). Also back this season after a year away from the program is forward Will Freeman (8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg in 2012-13), who earned the ODAC Rookie of the Year in 2012.
Hampden-Sydney (16-13, 7-9) out-played its No. 8 seeding to make a run to the ODAC title game in last season's tournament. The Tigers have several athletes back from that squad, led by point guard Mike Murray (11.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 101 ast), long-distance threat Greg Lewis (10.7 ppg, 61 3fg, .433 3fg%) and guard Leon Hargrove (4.9 ppg, 69 ast). Guard JaVonte Reddick (6.1 ppg, .800 ft%) and forward Mitch Owens (5.8 ppg) look to have increased roles this season, especially with eight first year players dotting the roster.
Roanoke College (12-13, 6-10) has four starters back in Salem as the Maroons look to climb back up the ranks. First team big man Daniel Eacho (18.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg) leads the charge after nearly averaging a double-double last season. He finished third with 10 double-doubles. Forward Andrew Daniels (14.5 ppg, 58 ast, .804 ft%) and playmaker Julian Ramirez (10.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 135 ast, 51 stl) bolster RC's attack. Guard John Fitchett (10.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg) looks to build on his solid first season.
Lynchburg College (17-9, 10-6) and Randolph College (15-11, 9-7) have developed quite the cross-town rivalry since the WildCats joined the ODAC six seasons ago. The Hornets have won 7-of-11 matchups, with the average margin of victory at less than 10 points. LC has three starters back in the fold, led by third team forward Alex Graves (12.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 34 stl, .523 fg%). Also back from last season's ODAC second-ranked offense (80.0 ppg) are guards Zack Burnett (8.9 ppg, 36 3fg, .404 3fg%) and Lyndon White (6.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 89 ast, 46 stl), as well as forward Austen Arnold (9.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg). Randolph, owner of the top scoring defense (60.9 ppg) last year, also have three starters back in tow. Guard Evan Horn (7.2 ppg, 56 ast) and forward Jason Eddie (6.3 ppg) started each game last season. Playmaker Zach Desgain (8.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 40 ast) is back after missing nearly half the season, and guard Corey Brown (10.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 58 ast) is the top returning scorer.
Washington and Lee University (8-20, 3-13) and Bridgewater College (14-12, 8-8) both feature rosters with experience. The Generals are led by forwards Andrew Franz (13.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 92 ast, 31 stl) and Patrick O'Connor (7.3 ppg) and guard Darren Douglas (6.4 ppg), all of whom started much of last season. Guard Andy Kleinlein (4.9 ppg) also started 16 games. The Eagles feature second team forward Ed Reddick (15.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, .502 fg%) as well as fellow returning starter, guard Zach Hunter (5.4 ppg, 51 ast). Forward Aaron Adams (7.0 ppg) adds length on the perimeter.
Shenandoah University (12-14, 4-12) and Emory & Henry College (4-22, 2-14) look to continue the climb up the ODAC ladder. The Hornets are bolstered by all but one returning starter. Guard Jared Carithers (14.4 ppg, 54 ast, 54 3fg) is joined by a trio of forwards in Jimi Starks (7.0 ppg), Xavier Alston (4.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, .566 fg%) and Brandon Pressley (4.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg). For the Wasps, head coach David Willson starts his second year with two starters back in Emory. Forward Brandon Self (6.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .515 fg%) missed much of last season due to injury. He's joined by guard Ryan Gravely (5.7 ppg), as well as guard Myles Turner (11.7 ppg), who also missed considerable time on the mend.
Listed below is the full 2014-15 ODAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll. For more information on ODAC men's basketball, visit any of the participating school's websites, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com and view the men's basketball virtual media guide.
Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook. You can also follow the ODAC on Twitter @odacathletics. Be sure to check out the ODAC's YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/ODAC1976) and watch an interview with each of the ODAC's head men's basketball coaches as they talk about their programs from media day in Salem (videos not live --- to be added after the event).
2014-15 ODAC MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
|1. Randolph-Macon (10)||120 pts.|
|2. Virginia Wesleyan (2)||111 pts.|
|3. Eastern Mennonite||91 pts.|
|3. Guilford||91 pts.|
|5. Hampden-Sydney||87 pts.|
|6. Roanoke||66 pts.|
|7. Lynchburg||64 pts.|
|8. Randolph||53 pts.|
|9. Washington and Lee||38 pts.|
|10. Bridgewater||35 pts.|
|11. Shenandoah||22 pts.|
|12. Emory & Henry||14 pts.|