Seattle Pacific Favored in Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll
Ryan Todd (13), Corey Hutsen (34) and Riley Stockton, who all return, celebrate with Jobi Wall after Wall's game-winner in last March's GNAC title game.
Ryan Todd (13), Corey Hutsen (34) and Riley Stockton, who all return, celebrate with Jobi Wall after Wall's game-winner in last March's GNAC title game.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Great Northwest Coaches Poll 2012-13 Records Pts 
 1. Seattle Pacific (9) 27-4, 16-2, 2nd 99
 2. Alaska Anchorage (1) 18-9, 11-7, 3rd 86
 3. Western Washington 31-3, 17-1, 1st 80
 4. Central Washington 15-13, 8-10, 6th 70
 5. Alaska Fairbanks 16-12, 10-8, 4th 62
 6. Western Oregon 10-16, 5-13, 9th 44
 7. Montana State Billings 16-14, 9-9, 5th 41
 8. Northwest Nazarene 13-13, 7-11, 7th 30
 9. Simon Fraser 6-20, 1-17, 10th 20
10. Saint Martin's 10-16, 6-12, 8th 18
(Note: First-place votes in parentheses. Points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).

PORTLAND, Ore. –  For the fourth time in the past five years, Seattle Pacific is the favorite in the GNAC coaches' pre-season men’s basketball poll.

The Falcons, who won the conference post-season tournament a year ago after finishing second in the regular-season, received nine of 10 first-place votes in the coaches’ annual pre-season poll.

Seattle Pacific outpointed Alaska Anchorage, which received one first place vote, 99-86 in the balloting.  Both teams return three GNAC all-conference selections.

Western Washington, which has won the last two regular-season titles and wasn’t the pre-season favorite either time, earned a No. 3 ranking in the poll.

Central Washington, Alaska Fairbanks and Western Oregon earned the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 nods in the poll. 

Montana State Billings, Northwest Nazarene, Simon Fraser and Saint Martin’s came in seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

Six of the conference’s teams will once again advance to the conference tournament, which will be held at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey for the third year in a row.

Seattle Pacific is the last conference team (in 2009-10) to earn a No. 1 poll ranking and then go on to win the conference regular-season title.

The Falcons hope  to accomplish that feat again this year.  Fifth-year head coach Ryan Looney, however, realizes his team has a difficult task ahead of it.

“We know it doesn’t matter where you are at the beginning of the year,” Looney said. “Finishing on top at the end is the ultimate goal.”

The Falcons return a conference-best nine letter winners including guard David Downs, who earned first team all-league honors last year when he led the GNAC in assists (5.5) and also ranked 11th in scoring averaging 14.2 points per game.

Downs is one of three returning starters for the Falcons, including forward Patrick Simon and guard Riley Stockton.

Simon, who averaged 13.4 points and made 66 of 145 three-pointers, was a second team GNAC all-conference selection after transferring from Washington State.

Stockton was an honorable mention all-conference selection. He also led the league in rebounding (7.5) and was selected the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year. 

At 6-4, he became the shortest player in conference history to lead the conference in rebounding.

SPU didn’t stand pat either, adding two former Division I players – guard Matt Borton from the University of Idaho and forward Jake Ehlers from the University of Portland.

Alaska Anchorage returns two all-conference players from last year’s team – first-team pick Kyle Fossman and second team selection Teancum Stafford.

Both players ranked in the Top 10 in scoring last season; Fossman at No. 7 (14.8 ppg) and Stafford at No. 10 (14.2).

UAA also returns Travis Thompson, who redshirted last year, after earning second team all-conference honors in 2011-12 when he averaged 11.8 points and made 70 of 147 three-pointers,

Western Washington and Central Washington are the only other teams with multiple returning all-stars.  

Back for the Vikings are guard Richard Woodworth and center Austin Bragg.

Woodworth was a second team selection, while Bragg earned honorable mention honors.

CWU guard Mark McLaughlin, who led the GNAC in scoring (22.8), was a first team selection.

JB Pillard  was an honorable mention pick two years at Northwest Nazarene before redshirting last year at CWU.

Other returning all-conference players include center Sergej Pucar of Alaska Fairbanks, forward Andy Avgi of Western Oregon, Montana State Billings guard Kalob Hatcher, Northwest Nazarene forward Kevin Rima and Simon Fraser guard Taylor Dunn

Pucar was a second team selection a year ago, while Avgi, Hatcher, Rima and Dunn all earned honorable mention honors.