FLORENCE, Ky. — The University of Rio Grande was picked to finish second in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Colonial Division and third overall in the 2015-16 KIAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The RedStorm, who finished 19-12 overall and 6-7 in the KIAC last year, garnered two first-place votes and 58 points in balloting of the 12 KIAC men’s basketball head coaches. Head coach Ken French’s squad returns seniors D.D. Joiner (18.1 ppg) and Dwayne Bazemore (17.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg), both of whom were All-KIAC selections last season.
Indiana University East and Brescia (Ky.) University are the favorites to win the Colonial and Capital Divisions, respectively.
The teams were ranked according to the predicted finish in their divisions, as well as a prediction of the KIAC overall.
IU East, the defending KIAC Tournament champion at 26-8 overall and 11-2 in the KIAC last year, received 10 of 12 first-place votes to earn the top spot in the Colonial Division. Brescia (Ky.), a division champion at 19-12 overall and 10-3 inside the league a year ago, received 11 of 12 first-place votes to take top honors in the Capital Division.
IU East edged Brescia as the overall KIAC preseason favorite. The Red Wolves got six of 12 first-place votes on the overall ballot, whereas Brescia received three. Both teams advanced to the NAIA Division II National Tournament last year.
IU East returns All-KIAC forward Huston Clark, a 6-6 senior who averaged 13.5 ppg and 9.1 rpg last year. The Red Wolves have 10 of their top 11 players returning overall, including guard Vasha Davis (9.3 ppg).
Brescia welcomes back KIAC Player of the Year Austin Morris, a 6-7 forward who averaged 16.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg and a national-best 3.43 bpg. Jermain Langley (13.8) and Trey Howard (13.4 ppg) are other top returners.
In the Colonial Division, IU East received 70 of a possible 72 points in the voting to outdistance Rio Grande for top billing.
Point Park (Pa.) University (16-13, 6-7 KIAC) was picked third in the Colonial with 46 points and is coming off an appearance in the KIAC Tournament finals, where it lost to IU East. The Pioneers, who return All-KIAC guard Jerah’me Williams (19.1 ppg, 6.9 apg), were chosen fourth overall in the KIAC.
WVU Tech (23-10) is a conference newcomer and is picked fourth in the Colonial with 38 points. The Golden Bears return one starter from their A.I.I. Tournament championship and NAIA Division I national tournament appearance. The Colonial Division had conference newcomer Ohio Christian University (22-14) picked fifth with 26 points, and Carlow (Pa.) University (2-22, 0-13 KIAC) picked sixth with 14 points.
Brescia (Ky.) was the clear favorite in the Capital Division with 71 of a possible 72 points and 11 of 12 first-place votes. The Bearcats received 23 more points than any other team in the division.
Asbury (Ky.) University (20-11, 8-5 KIAC) was picked second in the Capital Division with 48 points and fifth overall in the conference. The Eagles welcome back senior guard Kyle Lamb (16.4 ppg), an All-KIAC performer and the team’s leading scorer, as well as forward Tyler Smith (12.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg).
Cincinnati Christian University (22-12, 8-5 KIAC) was picked third in the division with 44 points and sixth overall in the conference. The Eagles feature senior veterans Kenny Gaynor (13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg), a 6-7 forward, and D.J. McCommons (10.0 ppg, 3.5 apg), a point guard.
Picked in a tie for fourth in the Capital are Alice Lloyd (Ky.) College (12-17, 7-6 KIAC) and IU Southeast (8-16, 5-8 KIAC). Alice Lloyd (Ky.), which returns double-figure scorers Tyler Rogers (13.8 ppg) and Tre Tiller (13.9 ppg), earned a first-place vote in the KIAC Capital, the only other team besides Brescia to do so.
IU Kokomo (10-20, 4-10 KIAC) was picked sixth in the KIAC Capital Division.
The top four teams in each division qualify for the KIAC Tournament, an eight-team, single-elimination tournament.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.