The Wooster men's basketball team was tabbed to repeat as league champions in the 2016-17 North Coast Athletic Conference preseason basketball poll, based on balloting from league coaches.
Wooster, which tied with Ohio Wesleyan for the 2016 NCAC title, earned five of the first-place votes from the men’s coaches to total 95 points at the top of the poll. Ohio Wesleyan, which also won the league crown in 2015, collected the final five first-place votes and finished one point behind the Fighting Scots in second with 94 points. Denison, winners of the 2016 NCAC Tournament, finished third in the poll with 80.5 points, while Wittenberg (67.5) and Hiram (61) rounded out the top five. Wabash checked in at sixth with 38 points, DePauw and Oberlin tied for seventh with 35 points each, followed by Kenyon (32) and Allegheny (12).
The Fighting Scots, who lead the NCAC with 17 league titles, return a wealth of talent off the 2015-16 squad that not only tied with OWU for the NCAC regular season championship, but also came just one win away from advancing to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The Scots return its top four leading scorers from a year ago, highlighted by the duo of senior forward Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, OH/Green) and junior guard Spencer Williams (Bedford, OH/Orange). Fanelly, who tied the NCAA Division III Tournament record with 21 made field goals in the Scots’ 96-83 win over Lancaster Bible in the opening round last year, is Wooster’s leading returner in numerous statistical categories, including points (15.1 ppg), field goal percentage (63.2), rebounds (5.7 rpg) and blocks (0.8 bpg). Williams made the transition to shooting guard last year and didn’t miss a beat as he earned first-team All-NCAC honors after scoring 14.5 points-per-game on 45.8 percent shooting, which included a 43.1 clip (44-of-101) from beyond the arc. Leading the charge for the Scots in the backcourt will be the sophomore duo of Mitch Balser (Centerville, OH/Centerville) and Reece Dupler (Newark, OH/Lakewood). Both players averaged 9.1 points per game last year, while Balser led the squad in assists with 99 (3.7 apg) and Dupler provided a stat line of 106 rebounds (3.3 rpg) and 56 assists (1.8 apg). Head coach Steve Moore returns to the bench for the 30th-straight year at Wooster as one of the most decorated men’s basketball coaches in NCAA Division III history. In 29 total seasons at the helm at Wooster, he has amassed an overall record of 692-159 (.813), while his career mark sits at 779-224 (.777) in 35 total seasons.
The 2016-17 season begins on Tuesday, November 15, while the NCAC Tournament will be held at the end of February with the men’s and women’s semifinals and championships at the site of the respective high seeds on February 24th and 25th.
2016-17 North Coast Athletic Conference Preseason
|2.||Ohio Wesleyan (5)