The Montana State University-Northern men’s and women’s basketball teams will kick off the 2012-13 season this weekend in Edmonton, Alberta.
And while the Frontier Conference season is still a ways away, the 2012-13 Preseason Coaches Polls and Preseason All-Conference teams were released on Tuesday night.
On the men’s side two-time defending Frontier champion Northern is picked to finish second this season after receiving 49 votes in the coaches poll. The Lights racked up a school-record 27 wins last season and beat UM-Western in the league championship game. Northern has won the last two Frontier postseason titles and has been to back-to-back NAIA national tournaments, but the Lights lost four starters and eight players from those teams last spring.
MSU-N’s lone returning starter, senior Devin Jackson was honored as a Frontier Preseason All-Conference pick. Jackson has started the last two seasons for the Lights and is already a two-time all-conference performer.
Westminster topped the men’s poll with 62 points, while the Griffins’ Jake Orchard was tabbed as the Frontier Preseason Player of the Year. LC State’s P.J. Bolte, Carroll’s Ben Cutler, Dickinson State’s Matt Lee and UGF’s Marcel Towns round out the preseason all-conference list.
On the women’s side, the Skylights were picked to finish sixth after receiving 32 votes. Northern is coming off a 21-win season and a third-place finish in the Frontier last year, and the Skylights return four starters, but must replace NAIA All-American Laramie Schwenke.
Two-time defending Frontier champion Westminster topped the women’s poll with 64 points, while LC State, Carroll College, UM-Western and Montana Tech were all picked to finish ahead of MSU-N.
Westminster’s Nicole Yazzie and Western’s Haley Pettit were touted as the Frontier Preseason Co-Player’s of the Year. Western’s Sammi Bignell, Tech’s Kelsey DeWit, LC State’s Brittney Niebergall, Carroll’s Megan Patterson and Westminster’s Cydney Tibbitts were also named to the Preseason All-Conference Women’s Team.
Note: For a preview of the 2012-13 Lights and Skylights, see Friday's Havre Daily News.
Frontier Conference Men’s Coaches Poll
1. Westminster 62
2. MSU-Northern 49
3. UM-Western 46
4. Lewis-Clark State 41
5. Carroll College 40
6. Great Falls 35
7. Rocky Mountain 27
8. Dickinson State 12
8. Montana Tech 12
Women’s Coaches Poll
1. Westminster 64
2. Lewis-Clark State 52
3. Carroll College 49
4. UM-Western 46
5. Montana Tech 34
6. MSU-Northern 32
7. Rocky Mountain 18
7. Great Falls 18
9. Dickinson State 11
Men's Preseason Player of the Year: Jake Orchard, Westminster College, 6-4, senior forward
Men's Preseason All-Conference Team: P.J. Bolte, Lewis-Clark State, 6-6, senior forward; Devin Jackson, Montana State-Northern, 6-1, senior guard; Ben Cutler, Carroll College, 6-0, senior guard; Matt Lee, Dickinson State, 6-6, senior forward; Marcel Towns, University of Great Falls, 6-2, junior guard
Women's Preseason Co-Players of the Year: Hayley Pettit, Montana Western, 6-3, senior post; Nicole Yazzi, Westminster College, 5-7, senior guard.
Women's Preseason All-Conference Team: Sammi Bignell, Montana Western, 5-10, junior guard; Kelsey DeWit, Montana Tech, 6-2, junior post; Brittney Niebergall , Lewis-Clark State, 5-3, sophomore guard; Megan Patterson, Carroll College, 5-11, senior guard; Cydney Tibbitts, Westminster College, 6-1 senior forward.