St. Gregory's University is the preseason pick to win the Sooner Athletic Conference, according to a poll of league men's basketball coaches released Monday. The Cavaliers, coming off a trip to the NAIA Fab Four, received five first-place votes and finished with 91 points. It's the first time SGU has been picked to win the conference.
St. Gregory's returns four starters off last season's Fab Four team. The Cavaliers, whose plus-17 turnaround in the win column led the NAIA in 2013-14, finished No. 6 in the final national coaches' poll. The national preseason poll will be released October 28.
The Cavs had a program-best 24-10 season last year, including a record 13 home wins, 12 Sooner Athletic Conference victories and 10 wins over ranked opponents last year. SGU picked up its first-ever win at the national tournament, knocking off three ranked teams to reach the national semifinals.
Marty Wilkerson became the first player in program history to be named an All-American and first to earn NAIA National All-Tournament honors. Coach John Martin was named a finalist for the Don Meyer Award – an honor for the NAIA's top coach.
Wayland Baptist was picked to finish second in the SAC with two first-place votes and 77 points. That was just ahead of third-place Oklahoma Baptist (75) and fourth-place Oklahoma City (73).
The Cavaliers open the 2014-15 season at home October 31 against NAIA Tournament-qualifier Evangel (Mo.).