Conference coaches selected the Bisons to tie with Jacksonville for first place in the Atlantic Sun regular season. They also chose the Bisons to win the conference championship, which would give the Bisons their first ever NCAA berth.
“Back in 2006-2007 we were picked to win the league and the prediction was correct,” said Sanderson. “That’s a great thing. “I’ve said many times that polls are just the opinions of other people. But other teams look at you differently. Other teams prepare a little bit differently for you knowing that you have a chance to be one of the better teams in the league. “
Sanderson told his team that he is certain of one thing at this stage of preseason. There are 10 other teams working as hard as they can to win the conference championship.
“They are all in their offices and on their floors in practice trying to decide how to pull the pieces they have together to give them the best chance to win it all at the end of four or five months,” said Sanderson. “I don’t care whether a team is picked first or last. Right now, everybody likes the pieces they have on their team.
“You can’t sit there and be concerned with the pieces you have. You have to figure out how to play together and have the best chance to compete night-in and night-out to win a championship.”
One of the main areas of concern for the Bisons is the point guard position. Johnny Lee, a transfer from George Washington University; freshman Zach Brown and red-shirt freshman Jacob Arnett are all candidates to fill the role.
“We have to have a solid point guard,” said Sanderson. “With the team we have coming back and the things we can do on both ends of the floor the point guard doesn’t have to be great. The point guard has to be a low-mistake guy who can take care of the basketball. He has to be able to distribute the basketball to the guys in positions to where they can score and be the most successful.
“He doesn’t have to score 20 points a game. He just has to take care of the ball and be solid for us defensively. With our team the point guard has to get the ball down deep in the paint to Adnan Hodzic. He has to get the ball to Michael Teller or Jordan Burgason on a penetrating pitch where they can shoot open threes. He has to give the other players on the team the chance to be successful by the decisions he makes coming down the floor.”
All three players have plusses and minuses when their styles of play are evaluated.
“Johnny Lee is an older kid who has been around for awhile,” said Sanderson. “He has a little more experience but it is his first year in our program.
“Zach Brown is a true freshman. He is very, very smart. He has a very good understanding of the game. He picks things up extremely quick. He shoots the ball extremely well. He is a good decision maker. But he has never played a college game.”
Sanderson compares Arnett to guard Michael Lusk, who finished his eligibility with the team last season.
“Jacob Arnett will play the wing, but his like Lusk. He is a different type of point guard. He is stronger and more physical than the other two. He is a pretty good defender, probably a little better than the other two.
"But can he think the position? I don’t know.”
The point guard this season will be running an offense that plans to pick up its tempo from last season.
“We have so many guys who can shoot the ball and Adnan down in the low post,” said Sanderson. “I would like to see a few more possessions in the game. I think that would play into our hands.
“I’m not talking about playing wild. But if we can get up and down the floor and hit more cheap baskets I really feel like we can more the needle in a hurry. We have some drivers. We have some shooters. We have some low post guys.”
Hodzic, selected by the conference coaches to the preseason All-Conference Team, is expected to be the centerpiece of the team.
“We will still do a lot of four-out, one-in stuff. We have the best player in the league in Adnan and he needs to touch the ball often.”