High Point, NC - The Barton College men's basketball team must replace the leadership, heart, scoring and rebounding of the most successful senior class in school history if it hopes to continue its run of outstanding seasons in 2009-10. David King, Bobby Buffaloe and Errol Frails led Barton to a sensational 103-26 (.798) record, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament, three conference regular-season and tournament championships, East Region titles in 2006 and 2007, NCAA Tournament appearances in 2006, 2007 and 2009, Elite Eight appearances in 2006 and 2007 and the NCAA D-II National Championship in 2007.
The Bulldogs return 15 players from last year's 25-7 (17-3 conference) squad that shared the Conference Carolinas regular season championship and won the tournament title. Leading the Bulldogs this season will be 6-3 senior forward L.J. Dunn, a returning first-team All-Conference Carolinas choice. Dunn, an All-America candidate who made the All-Southeast Region team, averaged 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds last season while shooting a sensational 61.4 percent from the floor. Junior guard Greg Mammel is the other returning starter. He averaged 7.3 points, three assists and 1.2 steals per game.
“It is a tremendous honor for the conference coaches to vote us No. 1,” 14th-year head coach Ron Lievense said, “but it is not where you start, but where you finish. We have lost a lot of tremendous players that have left a great legacy at Barton. Now, it’s time for all these young players here to leave their own legacy. I think a lot of this vote has to do with the success we have had in recent years. Our guys will have to step up to earn this honor.”
Mount Olive College returns three All-Conference players from last year’s regular season conference co-champions, including preseason second team All-American and 2008-09 Conference Carolinas Player of the Year Kendrick Easley. The Trojans finished 18-10 last year and won a share of its second consecutive regular season Conference Carolinas title with a 17-3 mark. Easley ranked nationally and led the conference in scoring with a 21.2 points per game average. The senior guard was also nationally ranked in free throw percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Junior forward Craig Hayes and senior guard/forward Mike Holloman both earned All-Conference Carolinas honorable mention last year.
The Trojans graduated two-time All-Conference point guard and Trojan career assists leader Justin Melton, but bring back sophomore Derek Staton, who started eight games last year while Melton was injured. Mount Olive opens the season at Lenoir Rhyne before hosting the annual Mount Olive College Pickle Classic. This year’s Classic includes two of the last five national champions in Barton and Virginia Union.
The 2009-10 Anderson University men's basketball team returns ten players, including four starters from a 15-win team (15-14 overall, 12-8 league) and fifth-place Conference Carolinas regular season finish. Last year's team ranked third in the conference and 33rd in the country, scoring 80.8 points per game. Guard Brandon Young and forward Stephen Cobb lead the group of returnees. Young, who is poised to join the 1,000-point club this season, was a First Team All-Conference performer last season after averaging 16.8 points per game. Cobb averaged 12.7 ppg and shot 43.8 percent from the field last year as a sophomore. He was named to the Conference Carolinas All-Tournament team. The Trojans return 85 percent of their potent scoring offense from last season and bolstered by two newcomers, look to be contenders this season.
Rounding out the men's poll 4-11 was: Pfeiffer, Belmont Abbey, Erskine, Queens, Limestone, Coker, Lees-McRae, and St. Andrews respectively.
Men's Basketball Preseason Poll (# of First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Barton College (6) 94
2. Mount Olive College (3) 91
3. Anderson University (1) 82
4. Pfeiffer University (1) 74
5. Belmont Abbey College 61
6. Erskine College 56
7. Queens University of Charlotte 41
8. Limestone College 40
9. Coker College 36
T-10. Lees-McRae College 15
T-10. St. Andrews Presbyterian College 15