CHARLESTON, S.C. (October 13, 2003) - The Southern Conference's head coaches and media have voted, and the East Tennessee State University men's basketball team is their pick.
The Buccaneers swept first-place honors in both the coaches and media polls Monday at the SoCon Tipoff Media Rouser at the Embassy Suites Hotel in North Charleston, S.C. Receiving eight of 12 first-place votes in the coaches poll and 21 of 28 first-place votes in the media poll, the Bucs were a landslide pick to win the North Division for a fourth-straight season over longtime rival Chattanooga.
"High expectations are good because usually that means you have good players," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "But there are good players and good coaches throughout this league. The preseason polls are nice, but we still have a lot of work ahead."
In addition to the polls, the Buccaneers placed three players on the preseason all-conference team - more than any other school - with senior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) being selected as the preseason player of the year.
Along with Wadood, fellow senior Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) and sophomore Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) were picked to the preseason all-conference team. In fact, Smith finished second to Wadood in balloting for player of the year honors. Wadood, Fields and Smith are three of five starters returning from the 2002-03 team which finished first in the SoCon North Division for a third-straight year, won the SoCon Tournament for the first time in 11 years, and nearly upset No. 2-seeded Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
A year ago, Wadood was the team's leading rebounder (8.1 rpg) and second-leading scorer (14.7 ppg), while also ranking second in the country in steals (3.2 spg) and setting a new single-season record for blocked shots with 66. Meanwhile, Smith was the team's leading scorer (15.3 ppg) while garnering honors such as SoCon Freshman of the Year and SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Fields, who had also set a single-season record for blocks with 56 in 2001-02, was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding a year ago. Both Fields and Wadood - who have 911 and 894 career points, respectively - should eclipse the 1,000-point mark for their careers early in the upcoming season.
"Those are three very talent players," Bartow said. "Having guys like that is a huge asset."
Along with Wadood, Fields and Smith, the rest of the preseason team included Western Carolina's Kevin Martin, College of Charleston's Thomas Mobley, Chattanooga's Ashley Champion, UNC Greensboro's Jay Joseph, Georgia Southern's Frank Bennett, The Citadel's Max Mombollet, and Appalachian Stat's Chris McFarland.
See accompanying sheet for voting results and complete polls.
First-place votes in parenthesis
1. East Tennessee State (8), 63 pts
2. Chattanooga (4), 59 pts
3. UNC Greensboro, 43 pts
4. Appalachian State, 32 pts
5. Western Carolina, 32 pts
6. Elon, 17 pts
1. College of Charleston (8), 63 pts
2. Davidson (4), 58 pts
3. Georgia Southern, 46 pts
4. Wofford 37 pts
5. Furman, 25 pts
6. The Citadel, 17 pts
First-place votes in parenthesis
1. East Tennessee State (21), 155 pts
2. Chattanooga (7), 139 pts
3. UNC Greensboro, 95 pts
4. Appalachian State, 83 pts
5. Western Carolina, 65 pts
6. Elon, 31 pts
1. College of Charleston (12), 147 pts
2. Davidson (13), 145 pts
3. Georgia Southern (2), 106 pts
4. Wofford 76 pts
5. Furman, 61 pts
6. The Citadel, 32 pts