MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – The Mercer men's basketball team was picked second in the annual Atlantic Sun preseason men's basketball coaches poll and media poll, as announced by the conference on Thursday afternoon. Seniors Langston Hall and Daniel Coursey were also picked among the 10-member Preseason All-Conference team.
"Preseason polls are great because they give fans something to talk about in the fall before we get into regular season play," Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. "I think our league is going to be tremendous again this season, and Florida Gulf Coast definitely deserves to be picked first after what they accomplished at the end of last year."
Florida Gulf Coast picked up six first-place votes to edge Mercer by three points for the top spot in the coaches poll. Mercer garnered 92 points with three first-place votes, while USC Upstate (75), Jacksonville (63) and North Florida (58) rounded out the top five. North Florida was the only team aside from Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast to pick up a first-place vote.
In the media poll, the Eagles also took the top spot, beating out the Bears by just a single point. FGCU elicited 16 first-place votes and had 306 overall points while Mercer attracted 15 first-place nods. USC Upstate was picked third with 255 points while Jacksonville (212) was fourth and ETSU (161) was fifth.
"I think there are multiple teams that can have a breakout season and a really good year in our league," Hoffman said. "We're no exception to that. With what these guys have accomplished over the last few seasons, I think they are primed and ready to make a great run."
Hall was one of five unanimous selections to the preseason All-Conference team a year after earning All-Conference second team honors. Hall was also tabbed as the CollegeInsider.com A-Sun MVP and earned A-Sun All-Tournament team recognition after leading the squad to the conference finals.
"Any coach in America would love to start the season with a guy like Langston Hall," Hoffman said. "He's got ability to lead and play at a high level every night. When you have that kind of young man leading your group, great things are going to happen for your team."
Coursey picked up preseason honors for the second-straight season after being named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year last season. In 2012-13 he made 31 starts while shooting 53.4% from the field and shooting 71% from the free throw line. He also scored 10 or more on 10 occasions and averaged 1.3 blocks per game while anchoring the league's top defensive unit.
"Daniel has continued to improve and worked really hard this offseason," Hoffman said. "The foreign tour was really good for him – two years ago he went on one and had a great year. He looks to be in that same mindset at this point and continues to grow and learn the game. He hasn't reached his peak of ability, so we're excited about that."
Hall and Coursey are two of four starters returning for Hoffman's team that went 24-12 and reached the National Invitation Tournament round of 16 last season. The Bears return 74% of their scoring, with 11 letterwinners from 2012-13 back in the fold.