East Stroudsburg University, coming off its second straight trip to the PSAC Final Four, has been picked second in the PSAC East men’s basketball preseason poll in the annual survey of the division’s coaches, it was announced Thursday.
The Warriors went 16-12 last year under head coach Jeff Wilson, who is entering his 10th season at ESU, and have two players on the preseason All-PSAC East team in junior forwards Duane Johnson and Terrance King. ESU and two-time defending champion IUP are the only programs to make the Final Four the last two years.
ESU’s women’s team is picked sixth entering its second season under head coach Maureen Smith. The Warriors, three years removed from their last PSAC Tournament appearance, return all five starters and nine letterwinners from last year’s team that tied for sixth in the conference.
Johnson, the Warriors’ top scorer (12.4 ppg) and a second team All-PSAC East pick, and King, the second-leading returning scorer (10.3 ppg) and the PSAC East Freshman of the Year during the 2010 NCAA Tournament season, give ESU two of the premier players in the PSAC.
The only duo in school history to both hit 500 career points by the start of their junior year, Johnson and King lead a group of nine returning letterwinners that also includes senior point guard Russell Graham III, a transfer from Division I New Hampshire who missed all but seven games last season due to injury.
The Warriors are picked second in the PSAC East behind Kutztown, last year’s regular season runner-up. Both schools received three first-place votes and are followed by Bloomsburg, Mansfield, West Chester, Cheyney, Millersville and Shippensburg. Mansfield, the defending regular season champion, and West Chester both received one first place vote. ESU and Cheyney represented the division in the Final Four last season.
Johnson and King are joined on the preseason All-PSAC East team by Kutztown’s Nate Edwards and three Bloomsburg Huskies – Trevon Johnson, Dontahe Jordan and Larry Webster. Jordan, a sophomore, was the only underclassman on the All-PSAC East first team last year. Edwards, Duane Johnson and Trevon Johnson were named to the second team.
On the women’s side, the Warriors bring back their top five scorers, including senior guard Cyara Woodridge, who averaged 12.8 points in 12 games in an injury-shortened season. Sophomore guard Andrea Veres was a five-time PSAC East Freshman of the Week and led the Warriors with 265 points (10.2 ppg), 88 assists and 56 steals.
Defending PSAC East regular season champion Bloomsburg leads the way in the coaches poll, followed by Millersville, West Chester, Kutztown, Shippensburg, ESU, Mansfield and Cheyney. The predicted order of finish mirrors last year’s final standings, which had a three-way tie for sixth place.
The preseason All-PSAC East team includes three players each from Bloomsburg, Millersville and West Chester – Kelsey Gallagher, Dana Wieller, Aurielle Mosley, Mashira Newman, Allison Hostetter and Alex Lennon. All six were all-conference selections last season and Gallagher, Wieller and Mosley were on the first team, with Gallagher being named Player of the Year.
The 2011-12 season marks a landmark change in the PSAC, with all of the crossover games against opponents in the other division now counting in the conference standings for a total of 22 conference games. The eight representatives in the PSAC Tournament will still be selected using the divisional format, four from the East and four from the West.
In the men’s PSAC West preseason poll, two-time defending champion IUP is the easy preseason favorite with six of the eight first-place votes. California, Gannon, Mercyhurst, Slippery Rock, Clarion, Edinboro and Lock Haven follow the Crimson Hawks, who placed their guard tandem of Julian Sanders and Ashton Smith on the All-PSAC West team after the graduation of Player of the Year Darryl Webb. Other honorees are Stephen Battle (Gannon), Luis Leao (Mercyhurst), Steven Swiech (California) and Bud Teer (Clarion).
Defending champ Edinboro is the unanimous favorite in the women’s PSAC West poll with runner-up California picked second. IUP, Gannon, Lock Haven, Mercyhurst, Slippery Rock and Clarion round out the list. Edinboro has three preseason All-PSAC West players in Kiara Brown, Renee Brown and Darche Jackson, who are joined by Amy Johns (California), Sarah Pastorek (IUP) and Danielle Smith (Slippery Rock).
Men – PSAC East
1. Kutztown (3)
2. ESU (3)
4. Mansfield (1)
5. West Chester (1)
Men – PSAC West
1. IUP (6)
2. California (1)
3. Gannon (1)
5. Slippery Rock
8. Lock Haven
Women – PSAC East
1. Bloomsburg (5)
2. Millersville (2)
3. West Chester (1)
Women – PSAC West
1. Edinboro (8)
5. Lock Haven
7. Slippery Rock