New York, NY–The Sage Colleges' men's basketball team has been picked first in the race for the 2016-2017 Skyline Conference Championship as voted by the league's coaches. The Sage Colleges and Farmingdale State College have been picked to top the North and South Divisions, respectively. This season marks the first time that the Skyline will play in two, six-team divisions.
Head coach Brian Barnes' squad (16-10, 14-6 Skyline) received six out of 12 first-place votes, and earned 58 voting points. Sage is followed in the North Division tally by newcomer U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (11-14, 6-10 Landmark), who received three first-place votes and 48 points. Purchase (42), Maritime and Mount Saint Mary (39 each) all received one first-place vote, with Sarah Lawrence (20) rounding out the north-side poll.
Farmingdale State (14-13, 14-6) received six first-place votes in the South Division for 60 points, as did defending champion SUNY-Old Westbury (19-9, 16-4 – 59 points). FSC returns a pair of double-digit scorers in Trey Kinard (10.7 ppg) and Liam Monaghan (10.2), while Old Westbury boasts D3hoops.com third-team preseason All-America selection, senior Jamail Stanley (22.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg). Mount Saint Vincent (40), Yeshiva (37), St. Joseph's-Long Island (29) and St. Joseph's-Brooklyn (21) complete the South Division tally.
The six-team, 2016-17 Skyline Conference Men's Basketball Championship gets underway with first-round action on Tuesday, Feb. 21, with semifinal and final action taking place on Feb. 23 and 25, respectively. Higher seeds host throughout the championship, with the winner securing the Skyline's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship.
The Gators enter the new season under the guidance of Barnes, who is in his eighth season at Sage. He will look to record his 100th career win this season as he stands at 97-86 at Sage. The Gators return a roster with four letterwinners, including senior guard Alex Lilac (Hoosick Falls, NY/Hoosick Falls), who is a two-time NABC Honors Court member for his accomplishments both on the hardwood and in the classroom, as well as veteran performers Marcus Patterson (Bronx, NY/Mount Saint Michaels Academy) and Rob Mills (Newburgh, NY/Newburgh Free Academy). Patterson averaged 10.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per outing last season for the Gators, while Mills added 9.4 ppg last year with 44 three-pointers.
Newcomers to the team this year include eight transfers with six players with ties to the state of Florida, and a pair of freshmen giving Barnes and his coaching staff a deep bench with plenty of talent and potential.
Last year Sage was among the national leaders in both the team and individual categories. The Gators ranked in the Top 100 in nine different categories for their efforts over the course of the 2015-2016 season. Sage was ranked No. 66 in total rebounds per game (40.62), while standing No. 82 in rebounding margin (+3.9) as well as No. No. 84 in defensive rebounds per game (26.0). Sage averaged 8.0 steals per game and ranked No. 87, while also ranking No. 88 in three-point field goal percentage (36.7%). The Gators were also ranked No. 89 in scoring margin (+5.2) and No. 97 in three point field goal defense (32.5%). Sage also averaged 78.8 ppg and was ranked No. 99 in the category, while also ranking No. 100 with a 12.62 offensive rebounds per game average.
The Gators open the new season visiting Bard College on November 15 for a 7 p.m. match-up with the Raptors in a non-conference game. Sage will also compete on November 18-19 at the Eastern Connecticut State University Tip-Off Tournament before visiting RPI for another of the team's non-conference contests on November 22 at 8 p.m. Sage will host the Trailblazers of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on November 29 at Kahl Gym at 7p.m. in the Gators' home opener.
2016-17 Skyline Conference Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
North Division (2015-16 record, Skyline record) Pts. (first-place votes)
1. Sage (16-10, 14-6) 58 (6)
2. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (11-14, 6-10 Landmark) 48 (3)
3. Purchase (13-13, 11-9) 42 (1)
4t. Maritime (8-17, 8-12) 39 (1)
4t. Mount Saint Mary (8-17, 6-14) 39 (1)
6. Sarah Lawrence (5-20, 2-18) 20
South Division (2015-16 record, Skyline record) Pts. (first-place votes)
1. Farmingdale State (14-13, 14-6) 60 (6)
2. Old Westbury (19-9, 16-4) 59 (6)
3. Mount Saint Vincent (9-16, 8-12) 40
4. Yeshiva (15-11, 12-8) 37
5. St. Joseph's-L.I. (10-15, 9-11) 29
6. St. Joseph's-Brooklyn (15-13, 10-10) 21