Blues Top Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll

Blues Top Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll

Team

Pts.

'19 NWC finish

Whitman

63 (7)

1st

Linfield

57 (1)

3rd

Whitworth

51 (1)

2nd

Puget Sound

39

4th

George Fox

34

5th

Pacific Lutheran

23

7th 

Pacific (Ore.)

20

8th

Willamette

19

6th

Lewis & Clark

18

8th

(Points awarded on an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches could not vote for their own teams; numbers in parentheses indicate first place votes)   

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The Whitman Blues men's basketball team has been chosen as the top team heading into the 2019-20 season, as voted on by conference coaches. The Blues earned 63 points in the poll with seven first-place votes. 

Finishing the previous season undefeated in conference play with a perfect 16-0 record (28-2 overall), the Blues entered the NWC Championship as the first seed, paired with Puget Sound in the semifinals. The Blues took down the Loggers by nearly a 50-point margin, advancing to the finals to face conference foe and fellow ABCA Top-25 ranked team Whitworth. In a nail-biting finale, Whitman defeated the Pirates, 107-102, to advance to the NCAA tournament. Defeating Texas Lutheran and Pomona-Pitzer in the first and second rounds, respectively, the Blues' season ended in a semifinal matchup against Williams. Three earned All-NWC recognition, including Austin Butler's Player of the Year honor and head coach Eric Bridgeland's Coach of the Year nod.

The Blues return Darne Duckett, who ranked second on the team in point per game (12.4) in the previous season, in addition to five first-year student-athletes as the Blues chase their fourth consecutive NWC title.

Voted second in the poll, the Linfield Wildcats earn 57 points and one first-place vote. The Wildcats wrapped up the 2018-19 season ranked third in conference standings with a 10-6 NWC record (17-9 overall), earning the third seed entering the NWC Championship. The team fell to second-seeded Whitworth to conclude their postseason run. All-NWC second team selection Dempsey Roggenbuck returns a senior for the Wildcats after leading the team in points per game (18.2) in the previous season. Also returning are key players Grant Gibb and Will Burghardt as the Wildcats seek their first NWC title since 2001.

NWC postseason regulars, the Whitworth Pirates have been voted into third place with 51 points and one first-place vote. The Pirates concluded the previous season ranked second in NWC standings with a 12-4 conference record (21-6 overall) after falling to the Blues in the championship game. The Pirates earned three All-NWC nods, including Ben College's first team selection. College, who led the team in points per game (19.7), returns a senior to lead the Pirates as they seek to reclaim the NWC title.

Puget Sound ranks fourth in the poll with 39 points. The Loggers hold steady after concluding the 2018-19 season ranked fourth in final standings with a split conference record of 8-8 (12-14 overall), including wins over second-ranked Whitworth and third-ranked Linfield. Cal Hansen earned NWC Freshman of the Year honors, starting every contest for the Loggers and averaging 12 points per game. Hansen, alongside teammate and All-NWC second team selection Stellan Roberts, return this season as the Loggers seek to climb in conference standings and make another postseason run.

George Fox earns 34 points to rank fifth in the poll. The Bruins are expected to hang tight after concluding the 2018-19 season in fifth place, finishing with a conference slate of 7-9 (13-12 overall). All-NWC second team selection Ryan Lacey was an offensive asset for the Bruins, averaging 16.9 points per game. Lacey returns a junior along with key players Jackson Januik and Wesley Reynolds as the Bruins seek to build on last season's finish.

Pacific Lutheran ranks sixth with 23 points. The Lutes move up one spot after finishing the previous season ranked seventh in final standings with a 5-11 conference record (8-16 overall). The Lutes return the majority of last season's starting lineup, including All-NWC honorable mention choice Leighton Kingma, who led the Lutes' offense with 16.9 points per game last season. Kingma, along with Kelton Williams, Jordan Thomas, and Conor Geiger, are expected to lead the Lutes' efforts in the upcoming season.

Pacific (Ore.) earns 20 points to rank seventh in the poll. The Boxers also move up one spot from the previous season after ranking eighth in NWC final standings alongside Lewis & Clark. The Boxers earned four conference wins and concluded the season 10-15 overall. All-NWC second team selection Marcus Wallace returns a junior alongside three-year starter Davis Holly to lead the Boxers this season. 

The Willamette Bearcats rank eighth in the poll, just one point behind the Boxers with 19. The Bearcats are pushed back two spots from their 2019 sixth-place finish in conference play, ending the season 6-10 against NWC opponents (9-16 overall). Having graduated team leader Jordan Jenkins, the Bearcats will look to offensive leaders Justus Eaglesmith and Jonathan Watts to lead the team's efforts in the 2019-20 season.

Lewis & Clark sits one point behind the Bearcats to round out the poll in ninth. The Pios concluded the previous season tied for eighth with Pacific (Ore.), earning four conference wins and finishing the season 8-17 overall. The Pios return All-NWC honorable mention selection Zeke Crawford for his senior season, in addition to key players Daelon Floyd and Kody Kennedy, as they seek to improve upon last seasons' finish.

The 2019-20 NWC men's basketball season will officially begin this Friday, November 8th.