WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2012
Men’s Basketball Ranked Sixth in SSC Preseason Poll
WINTER PARK, Fla. (Men’s Basketball) – Florida Tech’s men’s basketball team garnered a No. 6 ranking in the Sunshine State Conference preseason poll, which was released Wednesday. The poll was conducted by head coaches and sports information directors across the conference.
The Panthers are just a year removed from their first-ever outright Sunshine State Conference regular season championship, but return just one starter from last year’s team.
FIT earned 74 points in the poll, sitting just a single point behind fifth-ranked Nova Southeastern. Four teams received first-place votes with Saint Leo occupying the top slot with 180 points and 10 first-place marks. Sunshine State Conference tournament champion Florida Southern took the second spot with six first-place votes. Eckerd and Rollins round out the top four.
“Saint Leo returns its entire starting lineup,” head coach Billy Mims said. “They were the hottest team in the month of February last year. They had a great run down the stretch that took them to the finals of the conference tournament against Florida Southern. Those two teams should be the top two teams in the poll. The poll is an accurate reflection of what coaches know as reality.”
Last season, the Panthers marked a 23-7 record, going 12-4 in the SSC to win its first outright title. At the Clemente Center, they mounted a 17-1 overall record and went a perfect 8-0 at home against SSC opponents. The only returning starter, senior guard and All-SSC selection Julius Reid comes back after averaging 13.5 points per game to go with 5.5 rebounds. Reid also led the SSC in steals last season at 76. Sophomore Jermaine Jackson returns as well, averaging 8.3 points per game last season.
“I think the poll is a reflection of graduation more than anything,” Mims said. “We lost four starters last year. We have probably one of the youngest teams in the Sunshine State Conference, maybe in the country. We had a phenomenal season last year, but the loss of four senior starters makes us an unknown entity at this point.”
The Crimson and Gray will also look for support from some new faces including a transfer from Division I Air Force, Chris Carter.
The Panthers will open the season with an exhibition match-up against the Chilean National Team on Nov. 1 at the Clemente Center. The first regular season matchup will come Nov. 16 against Puerto Rico-Bayamon. FIT plays its first SSC game at Barry on Jan. 2.
2012-13 SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
Rank - Team, Points (1st Place Votes)
1 - Saint Leo, 180 (10)
2 - Florida Southern, 172 (6)
3 - Eckerd, 143 (1)
4 - Rollins, 137 (1)
5 - Nova Southeastern, 75
6 - Florida Tech, 74
7 - Lynn, 71
8 - Barry, 68
9 - Tampa, 52