No surprise, Augusta State picked to win the Peach Belt title

By: Staff Reports
By: Staff Reports

Wednesday Oct. 28, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA -- Coming on the heels of back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, the Augusta State Jaguars have been selected the preseason favorite to win the 2009-10 PBC men’s basketball championship in a poll of the league’s head coaches released today. ASU received 10 of a possible 12 first-place votes in the poll for 142 points, 19 ahead of Clayton State. USC Aiken was third in the poll with GCSU fourth and Lander fifth.

ASU made history last season becoming the first PBC team to return to the Elite Eight. The Jaguars won a school-record 30 games and were ranked in the top five the last three weeks of the season. For 2009-10, three starters return led by senior All-American Ben Madgen. Fred Brathwaite and Greg Hire also return to the starting rotation, while Daniel Dixon will anchor the backcourt. In all, nine letterwinners return for the Jaguars.

Clayton State led the PBC in scoring defense for the sixth straight season in 2009-10. Head coach Gordon Gibbons became the first head coach in the history of Clayton State men’s basketball to achieve 150 career victories. In addition, Gibbons also recorded his 400th victory as a Division II head coach.

USC Aiken will hopes to reload instead of rebuild with the departure of All-American Chris Commons. But a strong returning nucleus and a stout incoming class give Alexander all the pieces to remain at the top of the Division II basketball ladder.

GCSU was ranked in the top 25 for four weeks in 2008-09, rising as high as17th in the nation off a 22-7 season. GCSU made a trip back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 and had its third 20-win season in the past four years. The Bobcats lose a trio of seniors including Shaun Keaton (2006-09) who was named to the first team in both the Peach Belt Conference and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC)/NCAA Southeast Region.

The Peach Belt Conference will undergo several changes for the 2009-10 season, the foremost of which is a return to division play. With the additions of Flagler College and the University of Montevallo, the PBC will be split into east and west divisions. In the east will be Augusta State, USC Aiken, Lander, Flagler, Armstrong Atlantic, Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke while the west will have Montevallo, Columbus State, Georgia Southwestern, GCSU, Clayton State and North Georgia.

The PBC regular season begins Nov. 15 and continues through the 2010 PBC Tournament. The tournament format has changed with only the top four teams in each division advancing to a first-round game on the campus of the higher seed. The final four will then convene in Aiken, S.C., March 6-7, 2010.


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