WHITEFISH, Mont. – The Westminster College men’s basketball team is the favorite to win the Frontier Conference this season according to a poll of the league coaches; the conference office announced Wednesday.
Westminster received 62 points and seven first-place votes in the poll of the nine head coaches. The Griffins return 10 players and two starters from last year’s team that finished 21-11 and finished third in the conference with an 8-6 record.
Westminster senior Jake Orchard was tabbed as the Frontier Conference Preseason Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4 forward from Salt Lake City was third in the league in scoring last season at 15.2 points per game. He shot 53 percent from the field and 81.6 percent at the foul line to rank in the NAIA top 30 in each category.
Montana State-Northern was selected to finish second in the league and received 49 points in the poll. Montana Western received two first-place votes and 46 points to place third in the balloting. Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and Carroll (Mont.) placed fourth and fifth, respectively, with Great Falls (Mont.) coming in seventh. Dickinson State (N.D.) and Montana Tech complete the order in eighth and ninth.
The Preseason All-Conference team features P.J. Bolte, Lewis-Clark State; Devin Jackson, Montana State-Northern; Ben Cutler, Carroll; Matt Lee, Dickinson State; and Marcel Towns, Great Falls.
In the poll, votes were given eight points for first, seven points for second, six points for third, five points for fourth, four points for fifth, three points for sixth, two points for seventh and one point for eighth. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. The preseason all-conference teams were selected by the league's coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
Westminster begins the 2012-13 season on Oct. 26 with a road game at New Mexico Highlands. The first home game of the year is on Nov. 2 against Fort Lewis (Colo.).