ROCK HILL, S.C. - The Newberry College men's basketball team is predicted to finish fifth in the South Atlantic Conference in the Wolves' first season under head coach Dave Davis, as announced by the league office today. Senior Ray Robinson was named a second team preseason all-SAC pick as well
The Wolves will look to improve on last season's 10-18 overall and 5-11 SAC record in their first season with Davis' high-octane offense in place.
Robinson (Jacksonville, Fla.) averaged 11.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per contest last season. He had 16 games with 10 points or more, including season highs of 25 points at Georgia College and at Mars Hill. He was the team's leading scorer in four contests and his 53.7% shooting percentage led the team and ranked ninth in the South Atlantic Conference. His 37 steals led the team and ranked 12th in the SAC in steals per game and his 75.0% free throw percentage was tops on the team and ranked 12th in the league.
The Lincoln Memorial University Railsplitters, who return four starters from last year's 20-9 team, are the preseason favorite to win the 2010-11 South Atlantic Conference regular season men's basketball crown.
The Railsplitters received seven first-place votes and 94 total points from the league's 10 head coaches.
Lincoln Memorial returns senior forward D'Mario Curry, a two-time All-SAC selection, who was named to the preseason All-Conference first team, which was also announced. Curry led the Railsplitters in scoring (16.9 points per game, sixth-best in the SAC), and led the SAC in rebounding (11.1 per game) and blocks (3.43 per game) last season.
Lincoln Memorial also placed forward Desmond Johnson on the preseason second team. Johnson was 13th in the league in scoring last season, averaging 12.4 points per game.
First-year conference member Anderson University is picked to finish second. The Trojans received two first-place votes and 79 total points. Anderson returns three starters from last year's team which went 24-8 and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Southeast Region tournament.
The top returnee for the Trojans is guard Brandon Young, who was named to the preseason All-Conference first team. Young was named to the NABC All-Region team after last season, when he led the team in scoring (15.5 points per game) and assists (3.7 per game). He ranked 57th in the nation in steals per game and closed the regular season out with a streak of 18 consecutive double-figure scoring games. Anderson's Kevis Cornwell was named to the preseason All-Conference second team. He averaged 12.4 points per game last season and was named to the NCAA All-Southeast Regional Tournament team.
Wingate University is picked to finish third in the coaches poll with 73 points. The Bulldogs also placed two on the preseason All-Conference team. Junior guard Jamie Vaughn was named to the first team, while sophomore forward Odell Turner, the 2010 SAC Freshman of the Year, was named to the second team. Turner averaged 12.1 points per game last season, while Vaughn averaged 11.7.
Catawba College, last year's conference champion, received one first-place vote and 53 total points. Senior guard Dominick Reid was named to the preseason All-Conference second tem. Reid averaged 8.9 points per game last season and ranked sixth in the league in assists (3.47 per game) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.42).
Newberry College is picked to finish fifth with 50 points. The Wolves, under the direction of first-year coach Dave Davis, bring back a pair of starters, including forward Ray Robinson, who was named to the preseason All-Conference second team.
Robinson averaged 11.4 points per game last season and ranked ninth in the SAC in field goal percentage (.537), 12th in free-throw percentage (.750) and 12th in steals per game (1.37).
Tusculum College is picked to finish sixth. The Pioneers received 48 points. Senior forward Rob Troutman was named to the preseason All-Conference second team. Troutman averaged 9.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season and was among the league leaders in free-throw shooting.
Mars Hill College was close behind with 47 points for seventh place. A key returnee for the Lions is forward Dion Malachi, who was named to the preseason All-Conference first team. Last season, Malachi ranked 11th in the league in scoring, averaging 14.1 points per game, second in blocked shots at 2.48 per game, was third in rebounding at 7.2 per game, and led the SAC in field goal percentage, shooting 63.6 percent.
Lenoir-Rhyne University is picked to finish eighth with 39 points. The Bears return three starters from last year's squad, including forward/center D.J. Blackmon. Blackmon, an All-Conference and All-Region selection last season, averaged 20.5 points per game, fourth in the SAC, and was seventh in the league in rebounding at 6.8 per game. He was also third in the league in steals per game and ranked among the league leaders in field goal percentage, assists, free-throw percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and blocked shots.
Carson-Newman is picked to finish ninth with 34 points. The Eagles, under the direction of first-year head coach Chuck Benson, return one starter and four letterwinners from last year's team.
Brevard College rounds out the poll with 33 points. The Tornados finished second in the league last year and won the 2010 Food Lion SAC Tournament. Brevard returns guard Josh Roper is the lone returning starter from last year's championship team and was named to the preseason All-Conference first team. Roper, who was named to the All-Conference and All-Tournament team last year, was third in the SAC last year, averaging 20.6 points per game and second in assists at 4.13 per game.
The Wolves' season begins at home on November 13 against Lander University in their only home non-conference game of the season. The game starts at 7 p.m. after the football team's 2 p.m. game as part of a rare football-basketball doubleheader.
The exhibition season begins on November 4 against long-time rival Presbyterian College in Clinton.
The 2011 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference tournament will begin on Wednesday, March 2 with quarterfinal games on campus sites. Winners advance to the tournament semifinals on Saturday, March 5 at the Catawba Valley Community College Multipurpose Facility in Hickory, N.C. The championship game will be Sunday, March 6 at 4 p.m.
2010-11 Men's Coaches Preseason Poll
Team (1st) Pts
1. Lincoln Memorial (7) 94
2. Anderson (2) 79
3. Wingate 73
4. Catawba (1) 53
5. Newberry 50
6. Tusculum 48
7. Mars Hill 47
8. Lenoir-Rhyne 39
9. Carson-Newman 34
10. Brevard 33
FIRST TEAM PRESEASON ALL-SAC
Brandon Young, Anderson
Josh Roper, Brevard
D.J. Blackmon, Lenoir-Rhyne
D'Mario Curry, Lincoln Memorial
Dion Malachi, Mars Hill
Jamie Vaughn, Wingate
SECOND TEAM PRESEASON ALL-SAC
Kevis Cornwell, Anderson
Dominick Reid, Catawba
Desmond Johnson, Lincoln Memorial
Ray Robinson, Newberry
Rob Troutman, Tusculum
Odell Turner, Wingate