Coaches rank SAGU bucketeers 3rd
OLLU, Wesleyan teams to beat
Lions ranked #26 in NAIA Pre-Season Poll
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The 2012-13 men’s college basketball season is upon us. Like a cornucopia, there is an abundance of hope and optimism for every team.
In the Red River Athletic Conference, where a pre-season poll of head coaches was taken, recent history is a strong influence of what the future holds.
Defending champion Our Lady of the Lake University is the clear choice to successfully uphold their crown according to league coaches. Texas Wesleyan University gets the nod for #2 in the RRAC, which has four teams receiving votes nationally in the NAIA.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University is the pick for #3, their highest ever selection by the coaches. The Lions enjoyed the largest turnaround in the nation last season, improving from 12-21 to 27-11.
They finished fourth in the Red River and went on to take third in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s national tournament.
Donnie Bostwick, beginning his second year as the Lions head coach, recently trimmed his final roster to 17. A complete preview of the team will be posted on-line on Monday (Nov. 5), a day before their home opener.
LSU-Shreveport takes the #4 spot in the poll.
Breakdown of the teams to beat
OLLU, 27-8 last winter, received seven of the eleven first place votes in the poll, and also appear as the #7 team in the NAIA rankings.
Head Coach Russell Vanlandingham was named the RRAC Coach of the Year last spring, and for good reason. In his first three seasons in San Antonio the Saints have gone 19-11, 22-11 and 27-8 (68-30). They have been especially tough against league teams as their 53-13 RRAC mark attests.
OLLU hit the century mark in points on 19 occasions. Their 99.5 points per game average led the nation by nine.
Our Lady had a 1-2 mark versus LSU-Shreveport, winning the first game, 112-94, and then coming up short, 83-74, at The Dock. The Pilots won the RRAC title game, 111-101, over OLLU.
The Halos thumped Baker University, 103-88 in the first round of the NAIA playoffs, and then fell to California’s Biola University (27-9), 94-90, in overtime.
Wesleyan, a perennial conference power and a regular in the national polls, enter a new era with Brennen Shingleton, a 10-year assistant under Terry Waldrop, taking the wheel. TWU is currently ranked #17 in the nation.
The Rams posted a 25-8 record a year ago, losing twice to OLLU and going 1-2 versus LSUS, including the RRAC tournament.
Still they received entry into the NAIA playoffs where they were routed by Point Loma Nazarene (21-10), 74-44.
SAGU equaled the school record for most wins in a single season, tying the mark established in the 1980’s by Coach Terry Bryan (27-7).
The team starts the season ranked #26 in the NAIA national coaches poll.
The Lions split with OLLU, exchanging 19-points decisions with the home team holding serve. In the RRAC tourney, however, the Saints edged the Purple Pride, 112-109.
The team also split with LSUS, again with the home team winning. Wesleyan took both meetings from SAGU.
LSU-Shreveport, 27-8, has a new head coach at the helm in Kyle Blankenship. Chad McDowell stepped into the Athletic Director position when Doug Robinson retired.
The Pilots won twice in the NAIA playoffs before being eliminated. They sunk Xavier University (23-9), 66-63, and Southern Polytechnic State University (25-7), 84-71. California’s Concordia University (31-7) ousted the River Pilots, 84-65, in the third round.
Wiley College received the #5 position. The Wildcats, under Coach Andre Payne, had a 19-11 ledger, splitting with both Wesleyan and SAGU.
The University of St. Thomas appears at #6 in the poll. Coach Todd Smith and the Celts had an 18-13 record, tied with SAGU for fourth with a 16-8 league mark.
At #7 is Texas College. The Steers, 17-14, are annually a threat as either a contender or a spoiler. Coach Marquet Norfleet returns as the head of the ‘Horns.
Numbers 8-through-12 includes: Langston University (10-19), Jarvis Christian College (9-21), the University of the Southwest (10-18), Bacone College (3-26) and Huston-Tillotson University (1-28).
Fans can follow the RRAC on-line at www.redriverconference.com.
Current standings, schedules, scores, rosters and complete statistics are all available. Also, direct links for games that provide LiveStats can be accessed there as well.
SAGU Sports Live will broadcast all home games in HD starting in January.
2012-13 RRAC Coaches Pre-Season Poll
The following are the results from voting conducted by the RRAC's coaches with points awarded through a 13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 format. First place votes are shown in parentheses.
1. Our Lady of the Lake University (Tx) (7) 133
2. Texas Wesleyan University (2) 120
3. SAGU (Tx) 116
4. LSU Shreveport (1) 112
5. Wiley College (Tx) (1) 101
6. St. Thomas (Tx) 85
7. Texas College 80
8. Langston University (Ok) 62
9. Jarvis Christian College (Tx) 52
10. University of the Southwest (NMex) 46
11. Bacone College (Ok) 31
12. Huston-Tillotson University (Tx) 23