AUSTINTOWN, Ohio — The Marietta College men's basketball team was picked second in the Ohio Athletic Conference Preseason Poll announced Tuesday (Nov. 5) morning by the league office. The Pioneers received one first place vote in balloting by the OAC head coaches.
The University of Mount Union topped the poll with 79 points and seven first place votes. The Pioneers were second with 67 points. John Carroll University was close behind receiving the remaining two first place votes and finishing with 64 total points. Wilmington College and defending OAC Tournament champion Baldwin Wallace University were fourth and fifth with 56 and 52 points, respectively.
The bottom five includes Capital University (37 points), Muskingum University (31 points), Heidelberg University (30 points), Ohio Northern University (20 points) and Otterbein University (14 points).
Last year saw a three-way tie for the regular season crown with Marietta, Mount Union and Capital all finishing with a 14-4 conference record. The Pioneers have won an OAC-record five straight regular season titles dating back to their outright championship in 2014-15.
If Marietta wants its sixth consecutive regular season title, the Pioneers must replace a trio of 1,000-point scorers in Anthony Wallace, Kyle Dixon and Keith Richardson who all graduated last year.
Head coach Jon VanderWal, in his 13th season at the helm, returns starters Lukas Isaly, Caleb Hoyng and Tim Kreeger from last year's team that went 23-7 and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight.
Isaly, just a sophomore, started 26 games at the point last winter and averaged 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He dished out 47 assists. Hoyng and Kreeger give the Pioneers a ton of experience in the paint. Hoyng, a senior, averaged 8.5 ppg and 5.4 rpg per game and is very capable of stepping outside and draining a three-pointer. Kreeger averaged 7.9 ppg and 5.2 rpg as a sophomore last year.
Junior wing Jason Ellis will move into the starting lineup after coming off the bench last season. He was second on the team averaging 10.7 points and led the Pioneers with 53 three-pointers. Senior Mike Hall will also look to earn a starting spot after averaging 4.1 ppg and 2.6 rpg a year ago.
Marietta opens the season at home in the 49th annual Marietta Shrine Tournament sponsored by BSN Sports. The Pioneers play Eastern Mennonite University on Friday (Nov. 15) at 8 p.m. The consolation game is slated for 5 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 16) followed by the championship game at 7 p.m.
The complete poll is below. First place votes are in parenthesis.
OAC Preseason Coaches Poll:
1. Mount Union (7) - 79 points
2. Marietta (1) - 67
3. John Carroll (2) - 64
4. Wilmington - 56
5. Baldwin Wallace - 52
6. Capital - 37
7. Muskingum - 31
8. Heidelberg - 30
9. Ohio Northern - 20
10. Otterbein - 14