MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – The Mercer men's basketball team is has garnered significant attention in a host of college basketball season previews, picked among the Atlantic Sun's best by pundits from the Blue Ribbon Preview, USA Today, the Sporting News and Lindy's.
The Bears are fresh off a 24-win campaign that featured the program's first outright Atlantic Sun regular season championship in program history. The 2013-14 edition of the Bears returns four starters and 11 letterwinners from that team, while welcoming the addition of five newcomers.
Mercer's stacked set of returners has experts placing the Bears among a few squads expected to compete for the league title. Head coach Bob Hoffman's bunch has been tabbed as the A-Sun favorite by USA Today, second by Lindy's and third in both the Sporting News Yearbook and the Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook.
Individual accolades have also been bestowed on Mercer players and staff. Senior point guard Langston Hall has been picked as a preseason All-Conference first team player by the Sporting News, USA Today and Lindy's while senior Daniel Coursey garnered a second-team selection from USA Today. The sporting news also named head coach Bob Hoffman the league's preseason Coach of the Year.
Last year, Mercer rattled off 14-4 A-Sun record, including a 9-0 mark during the regular season at home. The team has made postseason appearances in each of the last two years, winning the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2011-12 and advancing to the National Invitation Tournament round of 16 last season.
The previews point to Florida Gulf Coast and USC Upstate as other possible contenders for the A-Sun crown. The Eagles finished last season ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll after storming into the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. The team returns four starters from that squad and will be under direction of first year head coach Joe Dooley.
USC Upstate brings back all five starters from its 2012-13 team that went 16-17 (9-9 A-Sun). Headlining its returners is three-time All-Conference player Torrey Craig.
Mercer opens its 2013-14 campaign at Texas in an 8 p.m. matchup on the Longhorn Network. All four college basketball previews are on newsstands now.