Men's Basketball Picked to Finish 2nd in HCAC

strickland-ecTERRE HAUTE, IND. -- The Rose-Hulman men's basketball team has been selected to finish second in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference this season, in a preseason poll of league coaches released Wednesday.

Transylvania University, ranked No. 16 nationally by d3hoops.com in the organization's preseason poll, was picked to win with seven first place votes and 97 poll points.

Rose-Hulman, which also received votes in the d3hoops.com national poll, earned three first place votes and 92 poll points to place second overall.

Hanover was picked to finish third, with Defiance, Franklin and Bluffton rounding out the top six.  Manchester, Anderson, Mount St. Joseph and Earlham rounded out the poll.

The top six teams will qualify for the HCAC Tournament in February.  Last season, Rose-Hulman earned its first NCAA Division III Tournament appearance since 1999 by winning the HCAC Tournament at Transylvania.

Rose-Hulman features the return of four starters and 11 letter winners from the 2011-12 squad this winter.  Returning all-conference players include junior Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) and senior Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights), who were the team's top two scorers last season.

Other multiple-year letter winners return include senior Brenton Balsbaugh (Greenville, Ohio/Arcanum), senior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora), senior Nate Gissentanner (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County), junior Jordy Martin (New Albany)  and junior James Pillischafske (Louisville, Ky./Male).  Junior Jake Dodd (St. Peters, Mo./Missouri-St. Louis) also saw significant time.

The Fightin' Engineers also feature six newcomers, including five players at 6' 4" tall or above.  Rose-Hulman finished 20-9 overall for the fourth 20-win season in program history last winter.

Rose-Hulman opens the 2012-13 season with a trip to the Milwaukee School of Engineering Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 17.