Above photo by William Roberts/True To The Cru/@c1osen
BELTON- After finishing the 2021-22 season with an Elite Eight appearance and No 7 national ranking, expectations are even higher for the UMHB men’s basketball program entering the upcoming year.
In the Preseason D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll, UMHB was ranked second, awarded a total of 559 points and four first-place votes from the panel of 25 voters. It is the highest the Crusaders have ranked in D3hoops’ Preseason Top 25 since the 2013-14 season, where, after reaching the national title game, UMHB was No. 7 to start the year.
Two of those first place votes came from Bob Quillman and Jay Murry, who both publicly posted their ballot. In the seven ballots posted publicly by Top 25 voters, UMHB was slotted no lower than fifth.
One of UMHB’s non-conference opponents was also included in the ranking to open the season, as Pomona-Pitzer is No. 12. The Sagehens went 22-5 a year ago, with a 13-2 mark in SCIAC play, and reached the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Elmhurst, an eventual Final Four team. UMHB plays at Pomona-Pitzer on Nov. 11.
Whitworth starts the year unranked but did receive votes in the poll, and is looking to build on last year’s 22-5 record that saw the Pirates win the NWC Tournament title. An NCAA Tournament team last March, Whitworth returns nine players, and also brings in senior Michael Smith, a guard who transferred after three years at D-II Sonoma State. UMHB plays Whitworth in late December.
Hardin-Simmons and LeTourneau joined UMHB in representing the ASC in the poll, as both were listed in the receiving votes category.
The Crusaders have plenty of attention entering the season, having been also selected No. 1 in last week’s ASC Preseason Poll. UMHB picked up 19 of the 20 possible first-place votes in that poll.
UMHB returns four of its five top scorers from last year’s team, including All-American Josiah Johnson. The season begins in a road contest at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Nov. 8.