Belmont tops A-Sun preseason men's basketball polls

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:47pm
Staff reports

Belmont wants to make its last run in the Atlantic Sun Conference a memorable one.

A month before the season starts, the competition believes the Bruins will go out on top.

On Wednesday, the league released its men's basketball preseason coaches and media polls, and Belmont was the choice to capture the A-Sun title once again.

The Bruins received eight first-place votes in the coaches poll and 29 of 30 first-place votes from the media. The remaining three first-place votes went to ETSU, which was picked to finish second in both polls. Lipscomb was selected sixth by both groups.

Belmont, which will join the Ohio Valley Conference in 2012-13, was also predicted to win the A-Sun postseason tournament championship by both groups.

The Bruins went 30-5 last year as they won the regular season and conference crowns on their way to an NCAA Tournament appearance.

“I’m not a fan of preseason polls. I just don’t put any stock in them at all,” coach Rick Byrd said. “The majority of the years we’ve been in the Atlantic Sun, the team picked to win the league has not done so. We appreciate the coaches and media members thinking highly of our program, but the standings at the end of the year matter. I believe our players understand that.”

Belmont placed three players on the preseason all-conference team. Junior guard Ian Clark and senior forward/center Mick Hedgepeth were unanimous selections and senior forward/center Scott Saunders also was named to the team. Clark led the team with 12.2 points a game and made 42.9 percent of his 3-pointers. Hedgepeth averaged 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds. Saunders averaged 9.9 points and 5.2 rebounds.

Lipscomb guard Jordan Burgason also got preseason all-conference recognition. The senior averaged 10.8 points last season and made nearly 41.8 percent (84-of-201) of his 3-pointers.

Belmont will host a 'Meet The Bruins' night at 6 p.m. on Oct. 27 in the Curb Event Center. For more information, call 615-460-2255.

The Bruins open their season at 8 p.m. on Nov. 11 at Duke (ESPNU/ESPN3.com) as part of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Lipscomb hosts Fort Valley State at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11 to start its 2011-12 campaign. Both teams begin practicing on Friday.