CLEVELAND, OHIO – The Hiram College men's and women's basketball teams were both picked to finish seventh in the 2011-12 North Coast Athletic Conference preseason coaches polls that were released today (Thursday, Nov. 3). [2011-12 NCAC Preseason Polls]
The Terrier men totaled 38 points to place seventh out of 10 teams. Seven-time defending NCAC champion, The College of Wooster was again picked as the favorite with 93 points and six of 10 first-place votes. Wittenberg University was second at 89 points and three first-place votes. Ohio Wesleyan University rounded out the top three with 80 points. Wabash (Ind.) College received the other first-place vote and was picked to finish fourth overall with 69 points.
The 2011-12 men's basketball team will feature a roster that has experience and a balance of veterans and youth as the Terriers look to rebuild after the loss of six senior players from a year ago. None larger than three-time All-North Coast Athletic Conference guard Chris Roberts who ended his four-year career 14th on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,188 points.
Back to lead the team this season will be the senior duo of Andrew Wiegand (Amherst, Ohio/Firelands) and Jamaal Watkins (South Euclid, Ohio/Brush). Wiegand saw playing time both as a starter and coming off the bench in 2010-11 and averaged 8.0 ppg. He was second on the team in three-point shooting with 44 triples (44-of-123). Watkins primarily came off the bench last season and averaged 6.7 ppg. He was tied for second in blocks with 11 and was amongst the team leaders in rebounding at 4.1 rpg. Also back this season is sophomore guard Aaron Stefanov (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls).
Stefanov was the 2010-11 NCAC Newcomer of the Year after finishing second on the team in scoring at 9.2 ppg. and led the Terriers in three-pointers made (58), attempts (127) and shooting percentage (45.7%).
The Hiram women had 27 points to place seventh of nine teams. Conference newcomer DePauw (Ind.) University was chosen as the preseason favorite garnering 79 points and eight of nine first-place votes. Denison University was second at 68 points and one first-place vote and Kenyon College rounded out the top three teams with 60 points.
The Terrier women will feature a very experienced team in 2011-12 as the Terriers return the majority of their roster from a year ago.
Back to lead Hiram is senior All-NCAC guard Kelsey Durichko (Brunswick). Durichko finished fourth on the team in scoring as a junior with a 6.8 points per game average on 53-of-176 shooting (30.1 percent). She led the team in assists with a Hiram single-season record 138 and was tied for the team-lead in rebounding at 169 (6.5 rebounds per game). She also led the team in steals with 56. In addition to Durichko, look for fellow senior Tiffany Shields (Bedford Heights/Bedford) to play a pivotal role. Shields averaged a team-best 14.2 ppg. in 2010-11 and also made a team-leading 69 free-throws in 97 attempts (71.1 percent), and had a team-high 18 blocked shots.
Also look for juniors Chelsea Kovach (Lakewood), Amy Geisman (Middleburg Heights/Midpark), Calysia Smyers (Akron/Coventry) and Brenna Host (Seven Hills/Normandy) to make an impact this season. Kovach was third in scoring a year ago with a 7.6 ppg. average. Geisman averaged 4.3 rpg. at her forward position in addition to scoring 5.4 ppg. Smyers added 4.6 ppg. and Host averaged 3.1 ppg.