FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Two-time defending champion Christopher Newport edged York by one point for the top spot in the 2017-18 Capital Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Preseason Poll. The Captains tallied six first-place votes and 77 points to edge York (76 points, 4 first-place votes) by the narrowest of margins in a vote among the conference head coaches.
Mary Washington and Salisbury tied for third place in the voting with 57 points apiece, with St. Mary's (47) and Wesley (41) rounding out the projected playoff teams in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
Marymount was close behind Wesley in seventh place with 38 points, followed by Penn State Harrisburg (27), Southern Virginia (16), and Frostburg State (14).
The 2017-18 season begins on Wednesday, Nov. 15 with eight CAC teams in non-conference action. CAC play opens in late November, with the CAC postseason set to begin on Feb. 20.
2017-18 CAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|1.||Christopher Newport||77 (6)|
|8.||Penn State Harrisburg||27|
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2017-18 campaign:
CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT enters the season ranked 14th in the country in the pre-season poll from D3hoops.com. The two-time defending CAC champions posted a 27-3 record last year and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Eighth-year head coach John Krikorian's roster features 10 returners and six freshmen, headlined by seniors Marcus Carter and Aaron McFarland. Both Carter and McFarland have earned multiple All-CAC honors throughout their careers, and Carter was an All-American and CAC Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2015-16.
FROSTBURG STATE 19th-year head coach Webb Hatch announced prior to the start of 2017-18 season that it will be his last and he has the talent on his roster to surprise a few teams in the CAC this winter. Second Team All-CAC honoree Tyler Michael finished second in the league in scoring (16.5) and he should surpass 1,000 career points this season. Hatch also welcomes back his leading rebounder Edwin Cole (9.6) and top point guard Lawrence Pettis, Jr. (72 assists) from last season.
MARY WASHINGTON will return four starters from last year's team. Headlining the returners is senior All-CAC performer Eric Shaw. Shaw led the CAC with 16.9 PPG, and also contributed 6.1 RPG. The Eagles also welcome back forward Johnny Cronin who led the CAC in field goal percentage last year. Other key returners for UMW includes junior Jacob Williams, sophomore A.J. Robinson, and sophomore Austin Hall.
MARYMOUNT head coach Chris Rogers, in his ninth season at the helm, brings together a squad of 18 to take on a competitive 2017-18 slate that is led by seniors Dimitri Rucker and Alex Danko. Losing just one senior starter in Michael Anderson, the experience will be key to the success of the Saints which includes starting guards, junior Brandon Rogers and sophomore Ibrahim Kamara. The defense will look to Rucker to pick up where he left off season, finishing third in the conference in blocks and blocks per game with 45 and 1.73, respectively.
ST. MARY'S 13th-year head coach Chris Harney is excited about the 2017-18 campaign as he returns an experienced group of 13 letter winners and adds six newcomers who will make their presence felt immediately. St. Mary's is poised to make a comeback to the top of the conference after finishing .500 last season. Helping to lead the charge will be sophomore guard Matt Ayoub, who finished second in the CAC in three-point field goal percentage, and senior guard Ochae Bynum, who came in third in the league in assists per game.
SALISBURY has its sights set on another trip to the Capital Athletic Conference championship and a return trip to the NCAA tournament. The Sea Gulls welcome three new freshmen and four transfers to replace the departures of Justin Witmer, Gordon Jeter, and Wyatt Smith. The team has gotten younger in the post with the arrival of Johnson Ogunyoye and James Foley. Salisbury will also look to returning players J.P. Krotulis and Lucas Martin to compete in the post and challenge the newest Gulls. At point guard, rising sophomore Al Leder and transfer Blair Davis will challenge for minutes.
SOUTHERN VIRGINIA looks to bounce back this season by returning three of its top five scorers from last season, including seniors Cale Thornton and Aarun Rumbaugh. Thornton led the squad last year with 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 54.8% from the floor, while Rumbaugh posted 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Other key returners include junior Kellen Winslow, and sophomores, Tyler McCreadie and Alec Johnson. The Knights also welcome in six players to the program who are looking to make an impact.
WESLEY returns its core from their 10th consecutive CAC Championship Tournament appearance led by 2016-17 CAC Rookie of the Year Brian Cameron and All-CAC Second Team honoree JW Lawson. Cameron led the CAC in three-point percentage, knocking down 47.3 percent of his three-point attempts (44-93). Cameron also averaged 14.3 points per game on the season, good for seventh in the CAC. A 1,000-point scorer, Lawson led the team and finished fourth in the CAC in scoring, totaling 15.9 points per contest. Wolverines also return senior forward Paul Clemons, who led the team and ranked fourth in the CAC in rebounding (8.0 rpg). The Wolverines open the season taking on Division I University of Delaware Blue Hens on Friday, Nov. 17.
YORK enters the season with high expectations after a run to the CAC semifinals last winter. The Spartans return almost the entire core of a team that went 17-10 overall and 11-7 in the league. Seniors Matt Scamuffo and Blayde Reich return to the Spartan lineup as York's two All-CAC representatives while fifth-year senior Dalton Myers returns after playing just eight games last season. Scamuffo averaged 16 points per game last year while Reich added 13.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. York also welcomes back starters Darin Gordon, Jason Bady, and Jared Wagner.