VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Carson-Newman was unveiled as the coaches pick for a third place finish when the South Atlantic Conference released the league's annual preseason coaches poll late Tuesday afternoon.
The Eagles received one first place vote and 80 overall points. C-N is coming off a 19-11 finish, and a fourth place finish in the league. The Eagles were picked behind both Queens and Lincoln Memorial. Both the Royals and Railsplitters feature prominently in numerous preseason top 10 lists.
"We talk about this every year," Benson said. "Preseason polls are assumptions. I think its generous because we lose one of the most efficient scoring posts in the history of the school and of this league in Sawyer Williams. I love the team we have. However, we are still very much in the process of trying to cover the loss of Sawyer. We are very happy to take that third place vote, but we don't put any stock in it and know we have to go out and earn what we get this year."
Both the Railsplitters and Royals finished last season as co-champions last season before colliding in a Sweet 16 clash that the Railsplitters won en route to back-to-back Final Four appearances.
"The overall quality of basketball in this league is elite," Benson said. "Queens and LMU are the gold standard. Three through six to seven is an absolute toss up on so many levels. We're just trying to find our way with this group."
At No. 4 in the poll was Catawba who picked up 67 points from the head coaches. The Indians went 18-11 overall and 12-10 in the South Atlantic Conference last season. Wingate followed as it received 62 points, landing in the No. 5 position. The Bulldogs closed out their 2016-17 season at 20-11 overall and 16-6 in the SAC.
Newberry earned the No. 6 position with 57 points. The Wolves were 18-11 overall and 13-9 in the SAC a season ago. Anderson came in at No. 7 with 48 points. The Trojans posted a 13-16 overall record as well as an 11-11 mark in the Conference. Lenoir-Rhyne landed at No. 8 in the preseason poll as it collected 37 points from the panel. Last season, the Bears went 10-17 overall and 9-13 in the South Atlantic Conference
Tusculum came in at No. 9 with 34 points, followed by Coker with 17 points. Mars Hill rounded out the poll as it notched 14 points.
Benson's bunch opens the regular season Nov. 10 against Lander at the Abney Center in Anderson, S.C. Tipoff from the Electric City is set for 5:30 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 5:15 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville).
Men's Preseason Poll - Points (First-place votes)
1. Queens - 98 (8)
2. Lincoln Memorial - 91 (2)
3. Carson-Newman - 80 (1)
4. Catawba - 67
5. Wingate - 62
6. Newberry - 57
7. Anderson - 48
8. Lenoir-Rhyne - 37
9. Tusculum - 34
10. Coker - 17
11. Mars Hill - 14