A-Sun Preseason pits Lipscomb against Belmont
Thursday, October 12, 2006

Oct. 12, 2006

MACON, Ga. - Defending tournament champion and co-regular season champion Belmont narrowly edged long-time rival Lipscomb to top both the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Men's Basketball media and coaches polls. The two Music City rivals landed first or second in all but two submitted poll.

Lipscomb, who shared the 2006 regular season title with Belmont, can basically be viewed as a co-favorite. The Bisons received one less first place vote in both polls, accounting for the total point difference.

Preseason Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Eddie Ard returns to Allen Arena for his third season, joining running mate Brian Fisk on the preseason All-Atlantic Sun team. Ard is one of the most versatile players in the conference who at 6-5 brings a legitimate inside-out game. The LaPlace, La., native shot nearly 50% from the floor including an impressive 42.3% from beyond the three-point line and 81.7% from the foul line while leading the Bisons in scoring (16.2).

Fisk has been known as one of the league's top two-way players. The senior ranked in the top-10 in both scoring and steals on his way to first team all-conference accolades last season. The Bisons are fresh off their first national postseason appearance, earning an NIT bid last year.

The Bruins claimed favorite status by a single point both times. Belmont is led by a pair of Preseason All-Atlantic Sun selections in senior Boomer Herndon and guard Justin Hare. Herndon was Belmont's second leading scorer and top rebounder, while Hare added Tournament Most Valuable Player honors to his growing resume after lifting the Bruins to the tournament crown with a 32-point performance in the title game versus Lipscomb.

Coach Rick Byrd's squad is favored in the preseason poll for the first time since the Bruins joined the league. Belmont's 62-33 (.653) conference record over the last five years is the best mark among league teams while the Bruins have an NCAA and NIT appearance to their credit in the last three seasons.

Tournament host ETSU garnered one first place vote in the coaches poll and lands third on both lists. The Bucs face a rebuilding year as they must replace 2006 Player of the Year Tim Smith who paced the A-Sun in both scoring and steals as a senior. Kennesaw State's Ronell Wooten rounds out the preseason All-Atlantic Sun squad while the Owls are slotted fourth after an impressive debut season. KSU won nine of their first 10 conference games to make a big splash on the scene.

Campbell was picked fifth, their best preseason positioning in several years. The Camels boast one of the nation's top scoring offenses and look to continue the improvement that saw them go from zero conference wins in 2005 to nine and a spot in the postseason tourney in 2006.

The polls diverge over the next three spots as the coaches rank Stetson sixth followed by Mercer and Gardner-Webb while the media countered with GWU sixth followed by Stetson and Mercer. Jacksonville and UNF round out the preseason poll.

2006-07 A-Sun Coaches Poll

1. Belmont (5) 93

2. Lipscomb (4) 92

3. ETSU (1) 80

4. Kennesaw State 68

5. Campbell 51

6. Stetson 41

7. Mercer 40

8. Gardner-Webb 38

9. Jacksonville 29

10. UNF 18

Tournament Champion: Belmont

2006-07 A-Sun Media Poll

1. Belmont (10) 181

2. Lipscomb (9) 180

3. ETSU 136

4. Kennesaw State 116

5. Campbell 103

6. Gardner-Webb 97

7. Stetson 77

8. Mercer 64

9. Jacksonville 57

10. UNF 25

Tournament Champion: Belmont

2006-07 A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year

Eddie Ard - Lipscomb

2006-07 Preseason All-Atlantic Sun

Eddie Ard - Lipscomb

Brian Fisk - Lipscomb

Justin Hare - Belmont

Boomer Herndon - Belmont

Ronell Wooten - Kennesaw State

This information was provided by the Atlantic Sun Media Relations staff.