GREENVILLE, Pa. – Washington & Jefferson College was selected as the preseason favorite in this year’s Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which was voted on by the league’s 11 head coaches.
The PAC announced the results of its preseason coaches poll and its players-to-watch list Tuesday afternoon.
W&J secured 10 of the 11 first-place votes and 110 total points to earn the top spot in the preseason poll. Led by eighth-year head coach Ethan Stewart-Smith, W&J claimed the top seed in last year’s PAC Championship Tournament and went on to secure the program’s 10th PAC title with a 68-63 victory over No. 2 Chatham University at Salvitti Family Gymnasium. It was the program’s first since 1994-95. W&J made its third all-time appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship last season.
Geneva College and 27th-year head coach Jeff Santarsiero finished second in the poll, totaling 94 points.
Chatham and fifth-year head coach David Richards collected the final first-place vote and 88 points to finish third in this year’s poll.
Thiel College and Westminster College tied for fourth with 76 points. Waynesburg University was sixth (60), Grove City College was seventh (53), Allegheny College was eighth (48), Saint Vincent College was ninth (47), Franciscan University was 10th (42) and Bethany College was 11th (21).
Headlining this year’s players to-watch list are Geneva senior guard/forward Lyle Tipton (Glenside, Pa. | Phil-Mont Christian Academy) and W&J sophomore guard Michael Bigley (Pittsburgh, Pa. | Seton LaSalle). Last season Tipton was voted the PAC Player of the Year while Bigley was honored as the PAC Newcomer of the Year.
Four of the five players that earned First Team All-PAC recognition in 2021-22 are slated to be back in 2022-23.
Tipton led the PAC scoring and ranked fifth in NCAA Division III with a 25.0 points per game average. His 626 points last season were the seventh-most in Division III. Tipton ranked third in the league with a 9.4 rebounds per game average, fourth with a 51.4 percent (217-422) field goal percentage, fifth with a 78.6 percent (154-196) free throw percentage and seventh in blocked shots per game (1.1). He also averaged 34.8 minutes played per game, the fourth-highest average in the PAC.
Tipton’s free throws made (154) ranked fifth in Division III while his free throws attempted (196) ranked sixth.
Last season Tipton finished with seven games scoring 30 or more points and 21 games scoring 20 or more points. He registered a career-high 39 points in a 95-89 season-opening victory at Kenyon College last November. Tipton also posted 11 double-doubles last season. He totaled 23 points and a career-high 18 rebounds in a 111-103 loss to W&J on Feb. 22 last season.
Tipton ranks 24th among Division III active leaders with a 17.7 points per game scoring average.
Bigley averaged 10.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in his debut season with W&J. He tallied 61 assists and 33 steals in 26 starts (27 appearances). Bigley scored a season-high 26 points against Geneva on Feb. 12.
The eight-team PAC Championship Tournament will get underway on Tuesday, February 21 with its quarterfinal round. The semifinals are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23 while this year’s title game is slated for Saturday, Feb. 25.
This year’s championship tournament winner will receive the league’s automatic qualifying bid to the Division III Championship. Team selections for the Division III Championship are scheduled to be announced Monday, Feb. 27, with first and second round matchups scheduled for Friday-Saturday, March 3-4.
District 9 and 10 alums playing in the PAC include:
GENEVA: Nick Felix (DuBois), Danny Lauer (Brookville), Nick Lydic (Cathedral Prep), Alec Srock (DuBois Central Catholic)
CHATHAM: Marcos Cintron (Grove City), Mitchell Reiter (St. Marys)
THIEL: Elijah Harden (Kennedy Catholic)
WESTMINSTER: Peyton Mele (Hickory)
GROVE CITY: Jonah Bock (McDowell), Ben Cano (Greenville)
ALLEGHENY: Charlie Waid (Meadville)
SAINT VINCENT: Tony Richards (Sheffield)
2022-23 PAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
School (first-place votes) Points 2020-21 Record (conference)
1. Washington & Jefferson College (10) 110 24-5 (16-2 PAC)
2. Geneva College 94 14-11 (12-5 PAC)
3. Chatham University (1) 88 21-5 (14-4 PAC)
T-4. Thiel College 76 8-16 (7-10 PAC)
T-4. Westminster College 76 17-9 (13-5 PAC)
6. Waynesburg University 60 14-14 (9-9 PAC)
7. Grove City College 53 10-16 (5-12 PAC)
8. Allegheny College 48 8-14 (6-9 NCAC)
9. Saint Vincent College 47 3-22 (2-16 PAC)
10. Franciscan University 42 10-16 (7-11 PAC)
11. Bethany College 21 2-19 (2-13 PAC)