Basketball Picked 7th in Atlantic Sun Preseason Polls

Oct. 28, 2003

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - JU, which is the most inexperienced team in NCAA Division I returning just two letterwinners from last year's squad, has been picked seventh in both the 2003-04 Atlantic Sun Coaches and Media Preseason Basketball Polls, as released by the conference office today. Georgia State was picked to win the league in both polls for the fourth consecutive year.

"We're looking forward to the challenge," said head coach Hugh Durham, who is entering his 7th season with the Dolphins and ranks 9th among active Division I coaches with 604 career victories. "We know we have a great challenge ahead, but we'll accept the challenge and stretch ourselves to reach the lofty goal we set each season - to win the conference championship."

Georgia State, which advanced to postseason play in 2001 (NCAA) and 2002 (NIT), returns two A-Sun Preseason All-Conference players in senior center Nate Williams and senior guard Lamont McIntosh. The Panthers also return four starters from last season's team, which advanced to the A-Sun Tournament semifinals before losing to eventual champion Troy State. The Trojans are picked second in both polls after winning the A-Sun Tournament Championship last year and advancing to their first NCAA Tournament. Mercer, which shared the 2003 regular-season title with Troy State, is tabbed third in both polls, followed by Belmont and UCF, respectively.

The Dolphins lost 10 players from last year's team, which went 13-16 overall, 8-8 in A-Sun play. Senior forward Nolan McBride (Hartford, Conn.), who averaged 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game last season, is JU's only returning upperclassmen and one of just two players who saw action on a regular basis last season. Redshirt sophomore guard Riley Didion (Cambridge, Wis.), who has earned a scholarship after two seasons as a walk-on, averaged 1.4 points in 6.0 minutes a game last year as Kevin Sheppard's back-up at point guard, while redshirt freshman Jarred Stockton (Jacksonville/Arlington Country Day) played in the first six games a year ago before injuring his knee.

JU will look to five newcomers and a new offense to make up for lack of experience, including the Dolphins' first 7-footer since 1987 - Yuri Lozancic (Omis, Croatia) - a 7-foot, 240-pound center transfer from Olney (Okla.) Central College. Other newcomers include junior guard Woury Diallo (Dakar, Senegal), freshman forward Haminn Quaintance (Sarasota, Fla.), sophomore guard Aubrey Conerly (Calumet, Ill.) and freshman forward Ljubisa Vrcelj (Windsor, Ontario).

2003-04 Atlantic Sun Preseason Media Poll

Team (1st place votes) Pts. 1. Georgia State (6) 188 2. Troy State (5) 181 3. Mercer (5) 176 4. Belmont (20 155 5. UCF 137 6. Florida Atlantic (1) 121 7. Jacksonville 87 8. Stetson 77 9. Gardner-Webb 62 10. Campbell 46 11. Lipscomb 40 Tournament Champion: Georgia State 2003-04 Atlantic Sun Preseason Coaches Poll

Team (1st place votes) Pts. 1. Georgia State (7) 114 2. Troy State (3) 106 3. Mercer (1) 103 4. Belmont 79 UCF 79 6. Florida Atlantic 73 7. Jacksonville 44 8. Stetson 41 9. Gardner-Webb 38 10. Campbell 32 11. Lipscomb 25 Tournament Champion: Georgia State 2003-04 Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference Team

Player Pos. Ht. Cl. School Scott Emerson F 6-9 Sr. Mercer Rob Lewin F 6-7 Sr. Troy State Adam Mark F 6-8 Sr. Belmont Lamont McIntosh G 6-3 Sr. Georgia State Nate Williams C 6-11 Sr. Georgia State Preseason Player of the Year: Scott Emerson