Mocs tabbed as the favorite by SoCon coaches
CHATTANOOGA (UTC) -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team was picked as the favorite to win the Southern Conference North Division in voting by league coaches.
The conference revealed its annual preseason basketball coaches' poll Wednesday. Davidson is the preseason favorite to win the South Division.
UTC seniors Keegan Bell and Omar Wattad were both named to the 10-member preseason All-SoCon team. They pace a Mocs team that received nine of a possible 11 first-place votes (coaches cannot vote for own team or student-athletes).
"Obviously you want to be picked to win the league," said Chattanooga head coach John Shulman, who is entering his eighth year on the bench. "It's an honor to have your team that highly thought of.
"But last time I checked, they don't give you the trophy in October," he added. "We are working our tail ends off to make it a reality in March."
The Mocs received nine first-place votes for 64 total in the North. Appalachian State (51) was picked second followed by Western Carolina (44), UNCG (42), Elon (29) and Samford (16). Davidson got 10 first-place tallies to end up with 65 points in the South. College of Charleston (56), Georgia Southern (42), Furman (34), Wofford (32) and The Citadel (17) trailed the Wildcats.
The Mountaineers' Omar Carter was tabbed as the preseason Player of the Year. Along with Bell and Wattad, the trio is joined on the all-league predictions by Jake Cohen (Davidson), J.P. Kuhlman (Davidson), Willie Powers III (Georgia Southern), Drew Spradlin (Elon), Trey Sumler (Western Carolina), Trent Wiedeman (Coll. of Charleston) and Antwaine Wiggins (Coll. of Charleston).
Chattanooga opens basketball festivities with the Memorial Blue & Gold Tipoff presented by Prater's this weekend during pre-game tailgating as the Mocs football team hosts Furman. Both the men and women will be on display following the Moc Walk at approximately 11:45 a.m.
UTC hosts Tennessee Wesleyan for an exhibition game on Tuesday, November 1, after the women take on Lee at 5 p.m. The season begins in earnest on Sunday, November 13, as the Mocs travel north to visit Indiana at 5 p.m.
Chattanooga returns four starters - Keegan Bell, Chris Early, Ricky Taylor and Omar Wattad - from the 2010-11 Southern Conference North Division co-Champions. They are looking for a SoCon-record 11th NCAA Tournament appearance. UTC is the only team in the league to win three division titles in the last four seasons.
Season tickets are on sale now as well as mini-plans. Tickets can be purchased and printed online at GoMocs.com or by calling 266-MOCS (6627). The McKenzie Arena Gate One ticket office is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
SoCon Men's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
1. Chattanooga (9) 64
2. Appalachian State (2) 51
3. Western Carolina (1) 44
4. UNCG 42
5. Elon 29
6. Samford 16
1. Davidson (10) 65
2. College of Charleston (2) 56
3. Georgia Southern 42
4. Furman 34
5. Wofford 32
6. The Citadel 17
2011-12 Preseason All-Conference Team
Keegan Bell, Chattanooga
Omar Carter, Appalachian State
Jake Cohen, Davidson
JP Kuhlman, Davidson
Willie Powers III, Georgia Southern
Drew Spradlin, Elon
Trey Sumler, Western Carolina
Omar Wattad, Chattanooga
Trent Wiedeman, College of Charleston
Antwaine Wiggins, College of Charleston
2011-12 Preseason Player of the Year
Omar Carter, Appalachian State