By Mark Schnabel

Newton Kansan

WICHITA — The Bethel College men’s basketball team was picked to finish 10th by both the coaches and media, while the Thresher women were picked to finish 12th Tuesday at the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference basketball media day in Wichita. Tabor was picked to win both the men’s and women’s titles in both the coaches and media polls. In the men’s coaches and media polls, Tabor was picked ahead of second-year conference member York. Saint Mary was picked third, followed by Oklahoma Wesleyan. Southwestern was picked fifth by the media, while the coaches tabbed Friends fifth.

The women’s polls were identical for the top five for both the media and coaches. Tabor was picked first, followed by Friends, Oklahoma Wesleyan, Kansas Wesleyan and Ottawa.

The Tabor men finished 30-4 last season, 20-0 in KCAC play. The Bluejays won the KCAC post-season tournament as well, but lost in the first round of the NAIA Division II Tournament to Indiana University-East 91-68.

The Tabor women finished 28-8 last season, 19-1 in KCAC play. The Bluejays women also won the KCAC post-season tournament and won its first two games of the NAIA Division II nationals before falling in the quarterfinals to eventual runner-up Southern Oregon 73-67.

The Bethel men were 11-20 last season, 9-11 in KCAC play. The Threshers qualified for the KCAC post-season tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

Tony Hoops begins his third season as the head coach for the BC men.

“We return our entire (coaching) staff again, which is huge,” Hoops said. “Just that continuity and that flow helps us out tremendously. … The guys are here at Bethel for the right reasons and definitely represent our institution the way we want them to. On the court, we’re trying to build off of last year. After a tough start, we won six of eight going down the stretch in the conference. We felt good about the direction we were going. We basically played one senior significant minutes last year in Jenson Kingsley. We knew we would return the bulk of our roster. Had a few other individuals, which is the case whenever you’re dealing college kids 18- to 22-yeara olds, what you think you’re bringing back isn’t always what’s on the official roster.”

The Threshers will be led by seniors Deven Goodwin and Austin Mitchell. Goodwin averaged 11.7 points and 3.3 rebounds a game last season. Mitchell averaged 10.4 points and 2.6 rebounds a game.

Other returning seniors include Jacob Miller and Chris Robinson.

Goodwin was an All-KCAC honorable mention last season.

Other key returnees include sophomore Chase Banister, who was a KCAC All-Freshman selection last season and averaged 6.6 points a game; and sophomore Cole Silsby; Trey Sleep and Tanner Long, a sophomore who redshirted last year.

Hoops reports 14 newcomers for the team this season. Junior college transfers include Maurice Jordan, Michael Cooper and Dale Kirkland. Sam Morgan is a transfer from Emporia State.

“We’re definitely excited for what we have,” Hoops said. “We had the most wins since 2004, which isn’t anything significant with 12 wins, but it’s a place where you can build.”

Adam Esses begins his tenure as the Bethel women’s coach this season, inheriting a team that finished 6-18 last season, 4-16 in KCAC play. Esses comes to Bethel from Kaskaskia College, a junior college in Illinois. Esses is a Bethany College grad.

“When I graduated from Bethany College in 2008, I always knew I wanted to come back to this conference,” Esses said. “It’s a great conference. I love Kansas and I love the competition this conference brings. Coming back and working at Bethel, I had to change my wardrobe. I’ve been blue at every college I’ve been at. I had to get a lot of new ties. Being a Thresher, it’s a very unique mascot. I’m not used to unique mascots. I was a Blue Angel at Kaskaskia, I was a Peacock at Upper Iowa University, a Loper at Nebraska-Kearney and obviously a Swede at Bethany, which will always be near and dear at my heart.

“It’s been great being at Bethel so far. It’s a great community, a great group of young ladies that we have this year. We have 12 returners, five newcomers, and I get to work with a guy named Hoops on the men’s side.”

Leading returnees for the Threshers include senior Elise Gerlach and junior Kylee Schunn. Gerlach averaged 10.8 points and 3.2 assists a game last season. Schunn, a Remington High grad, averaged 6.6 points and 3.4 assists a game.

Also returning are JDaijon Sumpter and Alyjah Kennedy, who both redshirted last season. Sumpter is a junior college transfer, while Kennedy is a freshman.

Newcomers include junior college transfer Fantasia Johnson from Dodge City Community College; Michelle Schrag, a sophomore from Moundridge who played softball for the Threshers last spring; and three freshmen.

“I’m very excited,” Esses said. “We’ve been through our pre-season workouts. I’m very excited to see what we can do as a team.”

The men open the season Oct. 27 at home against Grace University (Neb.). The women open the season Oct. 28 at Central Christian College in McPherson.

2016-17 KCAC Basketball

Preseason Polls

WOMEN

Coaches

1. Tabor (11) 121

2. Friends (1) 109

3. Oklahoma Wesleyan 96

4. Kansas Wesleyan 87

5. Ottawa 82

6. Sterling 60

7. McPherson 59

8. Southwestern 57

9. Saint Mary 54

10. York 30

11. Bethany 25

12. Bethel 12

Media

1. Tabor (13) 167

2. Friends (1) 149

3. Oklahoma Wesleyan 134

4. Kansas Wesleyan 108

5. Ottawa 106

6. Southwestern 97

7. Sterling 92

8. McPherson 80

9. Saint Mary 59

10. York 49

11. Bethany 28

12. Bethel 23

MEN

Coaches

1. Tabor (7) 117

2. York (5) 114

3. Saint Mary 100

4. Oklahoma Wesleyan 84

5. Friends 73

6. Bethany 66

7. Ottawa 65

8. Southwestern 46

9. Sterling 39

10. Bethel 33

11. Kansas Wesleyan 28

12. McPherson 27

Media

1. Tabor (11 first-place votes) 176

2. York (4) 154

3. Saint Mary 141

4. Oklahoma Wesleyan 112

5. Southwestern 111

6. Friends 108

7. Ottawa 98

8. Bethany 81

9. Sterling 71

10. Bethel 51

11. Kansas Wesleyan 35

12. McPherson 32