AUSTINTOWN, Ohio -- Mount Union's men's basketball team was picked fourth in the Ohio Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Purple Raiders receieved 53 points while John Carroll was nine points ahead with 62 and one first place vote. Just a point in front of the Blue Streaks is Baldwin Wallace with 63 points and at the top of the list is Marietta who received 80 points with eight first place votes.
Last year, the Raiders went 15-12 overall and 9-9 in the conference while average 82.4 points per game and shooting 47.2% from the floor. Seventh year head coach, Mike Fuline, comes into the season with a total record of 101-64 while being 28 games above .500 at 68-40 in the OAC.
Mount Union is led by senior guard JJ Kukura (Alliance/Alliance) who played and started in 20 games last year while averaging 17.7 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Other key returners for the Raiders include fellow senior guard Miles Griffin (Massillon/Massillon Jackson) who shot 38% from the floor while shooting just over 35% from three point land. Senior forward Thomas Mason (Alliance/Marlington) started 25 games for the Raiders last season while shooting 64% from the floor and averaging just under four rebounds a game. Sophomore Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow/Stow) will run the show for the Raiders as the point guard. Last year Bower-Malone started 26 games for the Raiders while averaging a little under nine points per game along with tabbing an assist to turnover ration of 2.0.
Mount Union will open the season by traveling to Penn State-Harrisburg for the Tip-Off Shootout where they will play CCNY in the first round on Saturday, November 18 at 3 p.m. The Purple Raiders first home game is Tuesday, Novermber 21 at 7 p.m. against Penn-State Behrend.
2017-2018 OAC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll (first place votes in parentheses)
1. Marietta 80 (8)
2. Baldwin Wallace 63
3. John Carroll 62 (1)
4. Mount Union 53
5. Capital 48 (1)
6. Ohio Northern 46
7. Muskingum 39
8. Heidelberg 32
9. Wilmington 18
10. Otterbein 9