TOWSON, Md. – The Catholic University of America men's basketball team finished as the runner up in the 2014 Landmark Championships, but were a unanimous pick to win this season. The Cardinals received eight first place votes for 80 points to lead the nine teams.
Susquehanna University was picked second in the poll with 57 points, and University of Scranton, last year's champion was voted third in the poll with 56 points. Drew University finished fourth in the poll with 36 points, and Juniata College picked up 33 points and projected to finish fifth.
After their second place finish a year ago, the Cardinals are ready to make their run at the Landmark title. Catholic returns All-American and Landmark Player of the Year Bryson Fonville to lead the Cards along with all five starters and 15 of 16 returning players. Reigning Rookie of the Year Jay Howard, the team's leading scorer last season, looks to build on an impressive freshman campaign. Head coach Steve Howes aims for his seventh 20-win season, 10th postseason berth, fourth league title and fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Susquehanna returns four of its five starters from a team that won 19 games under 2014-15 Landmark Coach of the Year Frank Marcinek. The team also returns three All-Conference performers, including point guard Brandon Hedley, who sank an impressive 88 three-pointers a year ago.
Scranton, the 2014-15 champions, return the backbone of the Royals offense in Brendan Boken, as Scranton will look to replace the schools No. 3 all-time leading scorer in Ross Danzig. Kevin Doolan and Marcus Thomas also returns to the starting lineup. The Royals will rely on a well balanced offense and strong defense while defending the Landmark crown.
Drew will look to build on the momentum gained by making its first Landmark Conference Championships appearance since 2010-11 last winter. Guided by eighth-year head coach Darryl Keckler, the Rangers return the league's top scorer and an All-Landmark First Teamer in senior guard Mike Klinger, who will again be flanked by fellow guard and classmate Kevin Herring II, a Second Team All-Landmark selection last season. Drew returns 10 players and three starters from the squad that won seven conference games one year ago, clinched the league's No. 4 seed in the postseason. A deep freshman class joins the roster this season.
This year's Eagles team looks to improve on last year's 12-13 record. 10 players return from 2014-15 which includes five starters who saw the majority of playing time. Six newcomers join the team including Brandon Martinazzi who was a three-time All State honoree at Bishop Carroll where he graduated as the school's all-time leading scorer.
U.S Merchant Marine Academy was picked sixth in the poll with 32 points and Goucher College, who received the last first-place vote, was picked seventh with 24 points. Elizabethtown College finished eighth in the poll with 22 points and Moravian College wrapped up the poll in ninth with 11 points.
The 2015-16 season kicks off next weekend with six teams in action.
The top four teams in the final regular season standings qualify for postseason play in the Landmark Conference Tournament. The top two seeds will host semifinals Feb. 24 with the highest remaining seed scheduled to host the championship Feb. 27. The conference champion will earn the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
|2015 Landmark Men's Basketball Preseason Poll|
|Rank||Institution (First Place)||Points||Graphic|