UAFS Picked 5th In Heartland Conference

UAFS SPORTS INFORMATION

FORT SMITH (KFSM) – With only two returning players from last season’s Heartland Conference co-champion team, it would be hard for the UAFS men’s basketball team to enter this upcoming season as the favorite to repeat.

Still, the respect the Lions have earned from their success the past few seasons remains among the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. UAFS was voted fifth in the preseason poll that was released on Wednesday, receiving 89 points in the voting and one of the 18 first-place votes.

The Lions, who have won the past two conference regular-season titles, finished the season 24-6 last season and 12-4 in conference play.

“We knew coming in that we wouldn’t be the favorites like we have been in the past, but being in the middle of the pack with a brand new team shows the respect our peers have for our program,” first-year Lions coach Justin Bailey said. “Our goal is still the same, and that is to win the conference. We still have a lot of work to put in, and there are no ‘easy’ games in the Heartland this year. Every night will be a battle.”

Dallas Baptist, which shared the regular-season title with UAFS last season, is the preseason favorite. The Patriots garnered 161 total points in the poll and all but one first-place vote. The Patriots are coming off their second-consecutive share of the regular season title after finishing 2017-18 with a 26-6 overall record and a 12-4 mark in conference play.

Lubbock Christian is picked to finish second. Newman is picked to finish third for the second-consecutive year. Rogers State was picked to finish fourth for the third-consecutive season. St. Edward’s was picked to finish sixth with 82 overall points.

Oklahoma Christian garnered 63 points and was picked to finish in seventh place. St. Mary’s finished the preseason poll with 51 total points and is picked to finish eighth. Texas A&M International finished the preseason poll with 27 points and is picked ninth.