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The Lakeland College men's basketball team is picked to finish in a tie for fifth place with Wisconsin Lutheran College in the Northern Athletics Conference this season according to the preseason coaches' poll, as the results were announced Wednesday.
Aurora University is picked to repeat as the conference champions, raking in 10 first place votes for 141 points. Edgewood College received the remaining two first place votes for the No. 2 spot with 130 points, followed by Dominican University at No. 3 with 115 points.
The Muskies finished 16-11 overall, 12-6 in the NAC in 2006-07, defeating Wisconsin Lutheran by a slim 51-50 margin in the NAC Tournament quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Aurora in the semifinals, 86-72. Lakeland is fortunate to return four seasoned senior starters, having only lost one senior, as All-NAC honoree Kris Saiberlich and honorable mention Aaron Regal return to the perimeter. The pair will be joined by senior guard Shane Grube and senior forward Danny Ehnert, while senior forward David Hoerres will also push for playing time. The Muskies also welcome back a host of experienced juniors and sophomores from last year's successful squad, and will add a talented host of freshmen to the mix.
"I'm looking for big things out of our seniors," said head coach Kyle Brumett. "We count on them for experience and leadership, and all five of them helped put us in a good position last year."
Aurora (25-3) clinched both the NAC regular season and tournament titles last season with only two losses in conference play. The Spartans have a chance at repeating those successes with the return of the majority of its starting line-up, including power-scorers Larry Welton, last season's NAC Player of the Year, and Doug Lambert.
Edgewood (18-8) also returns four starters on a strong squad that finished second in the NAC a year ago, including two All-NAC players in Charlie Averkamp and Chris DeMarco.
"This league is very competitive," Brumett said. "I was very challenged with what I saw in terms of the competitive nature of all the teams last year, and I think it's only going to get more competitive this year with so many good seniors and experienced juniors returning to the teams."
The complete Northern Athletics Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll follows:
2007-08 NAC Preseason Poll
1. Aurora University (10) 141
2. Edgewood College (2) 130
3. Dominican University 115
4. Milwaukee School of Engineering 95
5. Lakeland College 87
Wisconsin Lutheran College 87
7. Benedictine University 78
8. Marian College 71
9. Concordia University, Wis. 57
10. Concordia University Chicago 38
11. Rockford College 24
12. Maranatha Baptist 13