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Bethany Men’s Basketball Recognized in Preseason Polls

Oct. 18 - BETHANY, W.Va. – With four starters returning from a team that won a school-record 25 games last winter, the Bethany College men’s basketball team is gaining preseason attention, as the Bison were recognized in two preseason polls recently released.

The monthly newsletter of Division III men’s basketball, DIII News, listed the Bison with Others to Watch among teams not in their Top 25. Other notable teams in their poll included 20th-ranked St. Mary’s (Md.) University, who defeated Bethany in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last March, and Wittenberg (Ohio) University. They were among Others to Watch as well after reaching the Elite Eight last year. Bethany and Wittenberg are scheduled to face each other in the first round of the Tigers’ Holiday Invitational Dec. 28-29 in Springfield, Ohio.

The second poll that highlighted the Bison was the Top 25 preseason rankings. Bethany reached as high as #20 a season ago and was eighth among Others Receiving Votes in their final poll. This year, BC gathered 84 points to rank first among Others Receiving Votes, just behind 25th-ranked Hampden-Sydney, who picked up 95 points. St. Mary’s was rated 19th in the poll and Wittenberg also ranked with Others Receiving Votes with 30 points.

According to head coach Andrew Sachs, who has a 65-21 record and two PAC championships in three seasons on the bench, this kind of recognition is nice for the program but will elevate expectations heading into the season.

“I think it’s good for the program and shows how far we’ve come in my time here,” said Sachs. “It’s great to get recognition, but we weren’t ranked last year and went 25-4. It’s just preseason stuff, but it does show where we’ve come from. It also raises expectations and means we will get everyone’s best shot.”

Although Bethany brings back four starters, the one missing is 6-5 forward British Alexander, who set the school’s single-season record in blocked shots. Filling that void in the post will be difficult, although the Bison coach is pleased with the make-up of his backcourt early on in preseason practice.

“We should be fine in the backcourt, but our issue will be in the front court,” said Sachs. “With losing someone as good as British, we’ll have a lack of size and will be going with a freshman at the five. He’ll be a good player and will have a lot of senior experience around him, and we brought in a lot of guard depth.”

The Bison open the season at home Nov. 15th when they host Franciscan (Ohio) University. Bethany starts the PAC slate Nov. 28th when Waynesburg comes to Hummel Field House.