Transylvania Picked by Coaches to Win HCAC Men’s Basketball Crown
GREENWOOD, IN – Transylvania University has been voted as the frontrunner in the 2011-12 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship race. The Pioneers, who placed fourth in the standings last winter, received five first place votes in the Coaches' Preseason Poll. Transy garnered 86 points overall in the poll holding off Hanover College who finished with 78 points and one first place vote.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has been forecasted as the third place team by receiving 77 points in the poll. Manchester College's 75 points and two first place votes placed the Spartans fourth and were followed by Defiance College (58 pts, 1 1st place vote) in fifth position. Anderson University (57, 1 1st place vote), Bluffton University (47), Franklin College (42), College of Mount St. Joseph (18), and Earlham College (12) round out the poll.
Transylvania will be looking to capture its first HCAC championship since the 2008-09 season. The Pioneers earned a fourth place HCAC finish last winter, posting an 18-9 overall record and an 11-7 mark in the HCAC. Transylvania fell to Manchester in the conference tournament semifinals, falling to the host Spartans 68-65.
Transylvania returns an All-HCAC selection and all five starters from last year's team. Junior forward Brandon Rash (Mt. Sterling, Montgomery Co.) earned a spot on the All-HCAC first team last season. Rash led Transy with 12.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore, while shooting 45.8% from behind the arc. Ethan Spurlin (Stanford, Ky./Lincoln Co.), Barrett Meyer (Frankfort, Ky./Franklin Co.), Chris Owens (Maysville, Ky./St. Patrick), and Ashley Hatfield (Pikeville, Ky./Shelby Valley) return after being starters a year ago. Meyer averaged 11.1 points per game, while Spurlin contributed 10.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest during league play.
Hanover will be looking to surpass Transylvania in the race to the top of the conference standings this winter. The Panthers lost to Manchester 79-69 in the HCAC tournament championship last winter, but earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Division III tournament. HC fell to Hope 73-70 in the first round of the tournament, ending the season with a 19-8, 14-4 HCAC record.
The Panthers return All-HCAC selection Michael Case (Indianapolis, Ind./Southport) and one other top three scorer from last season's squad. Case, a senior forward for HC, averaged a team-high 14.8 points per game and connected on 64.5% of his field goal attempts as a junior. Junior guard Ryan Nowicki (Carmel, Ind./Guerin Catholic) averaged 12.1 points per game and chipped in 28 three-pointers in league play last winter.
Rose-Hulman will look to make a run at the title this winter after earning a spot in the HCAC tournament last season. The Engineers return one member of the All-HCAC squad from a year ago, and also return the HCAC Freshman of the Year. Junior guard Austin Weatherford (Cicero, Ind./Hamilton Heights) earned a spot on the second-team All-HCAC squad, leading the Engineers with 12.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game during league play. Julian Strickland (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) was named the conference's Freshman of the Year after contributing 11.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game his rookie season.
The opening games on the schedule are slated for November 15 with the first conference games scheduled for November 30.
Transylvania Head Coach Brian Lane talks about the upcoming season:
2011-12 Men's Basketball Players to Watch
Anderson: Brock Morrison (Sr., F, 6-3, Winchester, Ind./H.S.), Andrew Bowman (Sr., F, 6-7, Bargersville, Ind./Center Grove), Phil Hogan (Jr., G, 5-11, Indianapolis, Ind./Pike), Jason Riley (Fr., G, 5-7, Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central)
Bluffton: Brent Farley (Sr., F, 6-7, Lima, Ohio/Shawnee), Mychal Hill (Sr., G, 6-0, London, Ohio/Jonathan Alder), Nick Lee (Sr., G, 6-0, Vanlue, Ohio/H.S.), Nate Heckelman (Sr., G, 6-3, Norwalk, Ohio/H.S.), Josh Fisher (Jr., G, 6-1, Rockford, Ohio/Parkway)
Defiance: Logan Wolfrum (Jr., G, 6-4, Defiance, Ohio/Ayersville), Anthony Brown (Sr., G, 6-2, Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South)
Earlham: Ryan Taylor (Sr., G, 6-0, Martinsville, Ind./H.S.), Dustin Rusk (Jr., F, 6-5, Frankfort, Ind./Clinton Central), Marcus Bledsoe (Sr., F, 6-7, Indianapolis, Ind./Ritter), Colton Bragg (Jr., G, 6-3, Richmond, Ind./H.S.), Josh Green (So., G, 6-0, Campbellsburg, Ind./W. Washington)
Franklin: Will Conoley (Sr., C, 6-6, Franklin, Ind./H.S.), Clay Starrett (Sr., G, 5-9, Salem, Ind./Eastern-Pekin), Zach Merschbrock (Sr., F, 6-4, Charlestown, Ind./H.S.), Gunner Erwin (Jr., F, 6-5, Salem, Ind./H.S.), J.T. Barton (So., G, 6-0, Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove), Bailey Howard (So., G, 5-11, Nashville, Ind./Brown Co.)
Hanover: Michael Case (Sr., F, 6-5, Indianapolis, Ind./Southport), Ryan Nowicki (Jr., G, 6-1, Carmel, Ind./Guerin Catholic)
Manchester: Jason Spindler (Sr., C, 6-10, Harlan, Ind./Woodlan), Jordon Moss (Sr., G, 6-4, Columbia City, Ind./H.S.), Matt Morris (Sr., F, 6-7, Bellefontaine, Ohio/H.S.), Joel Sovine (Jr., F, 6-7, New Haven, Ind./H.S.), Brandon Kinsey (Jr., G, 6-2, Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll)
Mount St. Joseph: David Mann (So., F, 6-5, Fairfield, Ohio./Cincinnati Christian), David Lane (Sr., G, 5-8, Ross, Ohio/Ross)
Rose-Hulman: Julian Strickland (So., G, 6-3, Indianapolis, Ind./Pike), Austin Weatherford (Jr., G, 6-1, Cicero, Ind./Hamilton Heights), Blake Knotts (Sr., G, 5-10, Louisville, Ky./Christian Academy), Jon Gerken (Jr., F, 6-6, Defiance, Ohio/Tinora), Brenton Balsbaugh (Jr., F, 6-6, Greenville, Ohio/Arcanum)
Transylvania: Brandon Rash (Jr., F, 6-3, Mt. Sterling, Ky./Montgomery Co.), Ethan Spurlin (Jr., F, 6-4, Stanford, Ky./Lincoln Co.), Tate Cox (So., G, 6-1, Hindman, Ky./Knott Co. Central)