MITCHELL, S.D. – The Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team was picked to finish eighth in the Great Plains Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, it was announced Wednesday by the league.
The Tigers received 44 points and finished ahead of Nebraska Wesleyan University (29), Doane College (26) and Mount Marty College (12) in the poll. Dordt College, which won the league’s regular-season title, received nine first-place votes and was picked to win the league against. Northwestern College, which won the postseason tournament, received the final two first-place votes and was picked second. Briar Cliff, Midland and Morningside rounded out the top five.
The eighth-place preseason pick comes after the Tigers missed the GPAC postseason tournament for the first time since the 2004-05 season and failed to make a sixth straight trip to the NAIA National Tournament. The Tigers were 15-15 overall and 7-13 in the league last season. They ended the regular season tied for seventh with Mount Marty and Concordia, but after tiebreakers slipped to ninth and missed a spot in the GPAC tournament.
Third-year head coach Shane Murphy returns a core of talented players from last season, including senior Mike Lee, who earned All-GPAC Second Team honors and led the team in scoring with 13.3 points per game. Jalen Voss returns for his sophomore season after being named the league’s co-freshman of the year and earning All-GPAC Honorable Mention accolades. Voss averaged 9.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Carde Pennington is back for his senior year after averaging 9.9 points per game as a junior, and Bo LaCroix is back for his fourth and final season with the program. The Hurley, S.D., native averaged 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a junior. Sophomore Luke Bamberg is another of Murphy’s top returners after averaging 4.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as a true freshman.
Murphy signed a handful of talented recruits in the offseason, including three transfers. George Barrow III is a 6-foot-8 forward who comes to DWU from Central State University; Danny Maman is a 6-4 guard from Glendale Community College and Aireus Stephenson joins the program as a 6-0 senior guard from South Dakota State University.
Key freshman signees for the Tigers include Winner, S.D., native Kyle Mathis and Mitchell native Jade Miller. Mathis averaged 14.3 points per game as a senior at Winner High School and Miller helped his Mitchell High School team to back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Class AA state tournament.
The Tigers start the 2012-13 season when they host the DWU Fulton State Bank Classic Nov. 2-3 at the Corn Palace. DWU hosts Mayville State at 8 p.m. on Nov. 2 and Oglala Lakota College at 6 p.m. on Nov. 3.
2012-13 GPAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
- Dordt, 99 (9 first-place votes)
- Northwestern, 92 (2 first-place votes)
- Briar Cliff, 76
- Midland, 72
- Morningside, 65
- Concordia, 45
- Hastings, 45
- Dakota Wesleyan, 44
- Nebraska Wesleyan, 29
- Doane, 26
- Mount Marty, 12