Southwestern Tabbed As Favorite For Men's Basketball

Southwestern Tabbed As Favorite For Men's Basketball

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - In exclusive voting by the league’s head coaches, where four different teams received first-place votes, Southwestern emerged as the favorite for the 2019-20 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball season.

Southwestern, which earned a share of the SCAC regular season crown a year ago for the first time in school history, garnered six first-place votes to top the poll with 76 points. Centenary checked in at second on the poll with 62 points following a season that saw the Gents win 10 SCAC games for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Dallas, which made a run to the SCAC Tournament Championship for the first time in school history before falling in double overtime, received one first-place vote and checks in at third with 57 total points. St. Thomas, who make its debut this year in the SCAC, collected a pair of first place votes and sits in fourth with 49 points. Schreiner, the lone SCAC program to post double-digit conference wins in each of the last three seasons, rounded out the top five with 44 points to finish fifth. Colorado College, which last advanced to an SCAC Tournament Title game back in 2016, received the final remaining first-place vote and sits sixth with 43 points. Texas Lutheran, last year’s SCAC Tournament and Co-Regular Season Champions, checked in at seventh with 38 points, followed by Trinity (37), Austin College (27) and Johnson & Wales (17).

Southwestern returns three all-conference performers off its 2018-19 team that finished the regular season with an overall mark of 14-12 and posted its most wins in SCAC play since the 2004-05 season with an 11-5 league mark. Senior forward Brandon Alexander headlines the Pirates returnees after being named SCAC Player-of-the-Year and earning first team all-conference honors a season ago. Offensively, Alexander paced the Pirates that led the SCAC in both scoring offense (81.7 ppg) and field goal percentage (45.9%), with 18.1 points per game on 44.2 percent shooting. He also grabbed 6.2 rebounds and dished 1.2 assists per contest en route to being named a first team all-Region player. The senior duo of Joel Martinez and Andrew Puhl join Alexander as all-conference players returning from a year ago. The pair combined for 462 points and 193 rebounds for an offense that led the league in scoring offense for the first time in program history.

Connor Kuykendall takes over as the head coach for Southwestern following five seasons at Schreiner in which he posted a 40-32 record in conference play, including double-digit league wins in each of the last three seasons. He won back-to-back SCAC Coach of the Year awards (2016-17, 2017-18), delivering the Mountaineers' first regular season conference championship with an 11-3 conference record in the 2016-17 season and leading Schreiner to both the regular season and conference tournament championships in the 2017-18 season, culminating in the program's first NCAA Tournament berth.

The 2019-20 season begins on Friday, November 8, while the SCAC Tournament will be held at the end of February in Kerrville, Texas, hosted by Schreiner University beginning the 28th. 

2019-20 SCAC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses, followed by total points)
1. Southwestern University (6) 76
2. Centenary College  62
3. University of Dallas (1) 57
4. University of St. Thomas (2) 49
5. Schreiner University 44
6. Colorado College (1) 43
7. Texas Lutheran University 38
8. Trinity University 37
9. Austin College 27
10. Johnson & Wales University (Denver) 17