YORK, Pa. - The accolades and preseason respect for the St. Mary’s College of Maryland men’s basketball continues for head coach Chris Harney and his crew.
Several preseason polls have the defending CAC champions among the Top 10 in NCAA Division III, including one poll that has the Seahawks ranked No. 2 in the country. It shouldn’t be surprising, considering SMC has won four of the last six CAC men’s basketball titles and played in the NCAA Tournament in five of the last six seasons.
So it should be no surprise that with All-American guard Nick LaGuerre returning to lead a veteran group of Seahawks, SMC would be the unanimous preseason pick of the CAC men’s basketball coaches to win the 2013-14 crown. St. Mary’s received all nine possible first-place votes in the vote of the 10 coaches (who were not allowed to vote for their own team).
The 2012-13 Seahawks compiled a 27-4 overall record and advanced to the Division III Elite 8 before ending the season with a 69-66 setback to eventual national runner up Mary Hardin Baylor. It was SMC’s second Elite 8 appearance in the last three years.
The Seahawks compiled a perfect score of 81 points to top CAC newcomer Christopher Newport (71) and CAC runner up Wesley (61) for the top spot in the preseason poll. CNU won the 2013 conference championship in its last season as a member of the USA South Athletic Conference. Wesley has appeared in the CAC title game in four of the last five years, winning its only crown in 2009.
2012 CAC finalist Mary Washington (57) placed fourth in the preseason poll, just four points behind Wesley, while Salisbury earned fifth place in the voting with 55 points.
The remainder of the CAC teams were tightly packed in the voting, with Marymount leading the way with 29 points, followed by Frostburg State and York tied with 27 each, CAC newcomer Penn State Harrisburg with 22 points and newcomer Southern Virginia with 20 points.
2013-14 CAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
Team (first-place votes) 2012-13 Record Points
1. St. Mary’s (Md.) (9) 27-4 81
2. Christopher Newport (1) 22-6 71
3. Wesley 20-8 61
4. Mary Washington 14-13 57
5. Salisbury 19-8 55
6. Marymount (Va.) 7-18 29
7. Frostburg State 10-16 27
7. York (Pa.) 7-19 27
9. Penn State Harrisburg 12-15 22
10. Southern Virginia 17-7 20
Two years removed from a CAC Championship appearance, 18th year head coach Rod Wood leads a team with great balance back for 2013-14.
Led by seniors Bradley Riester and Dylan Farinet and junior Taylor Johnson, UMW brings a wealth of experience into the season, with all three returning as starter's from last year's 14-win season.
Riester, a two-time All-CAC performer, is the Eagles' leading returning scorer, having netted 13,6 PPG last year. Farinet scored 7.4 PPG, but got stronger as the season progressed, averaging 25 points in the CAC Tournament. Johnson scored 10.1 PPG and led the team with 5.6 rebounds per game.
Also back from last year's team are returning letter winners Marcellus Holley and Dom Morra at the guard spot, and post players John Yoxthimer and Gaither Mason in the post.
The Eagles will play one of the more difficult out-of-conference schedules around, facing traditional powers Hampden-Sydney, Virginia Wesleyan, and Eastern Mennonite of the ODAC. UMW opens the season on November 16 against Montclair State University, as part of the hamton Inn South Tipoff Tournament with Eastern Mennonite and Staten Island.