First-year Baker head coach Sean Dooley was one of 10 head coaches to speak to the media on Monday and was the only newcomer out of the bunch, joining the conference for the first time in 2012-13 after a stint as assistant coach at Columbia College.
“Our guys have been giving me everything they’ve got every day and have really bought in and we’re excited for the upcoming season,” said Dooley. “The returners didn’t like the way their season ended last year and they promised me they’re going to give everything they have and so far they’ve done that."
Baker returns to the floor this Wednesday, Oct. 10 for a scrimmage against Ft. Scott Community College at 7 p.m. at the Collins Center. The game is open to the public. Then Baker opens up the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 3 at home against Hastings College at 7 p.m
Defending Heart of America Athletic Conference champion MidAmerica Nazarene received nine of ten first place votes to sit atop the 2012 HAAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The Pioneers took a full 81 voting points (coaches did not vote for their own teams) to finish eight points ahead of runner-up Evangel, which received the remaining first-place vote as well as 8-of-9 second-place tallies to finish with 73 voting points.
The two teams, who each represented the conference in the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships in March, will square off on January 17, 2013 in Olathe, Kan., setting up a return matchup in Springfield on February 21.
Baker finished third in the voting with 60 points. The Wildcats were also national tournament participants last season after advancing to the HAAC Tournament championship game, where they fell to MNU.
The next two places were separated by just two points as Benedictine (52 points) edged out Avila (48) to finish off the top half of the predicted standings. The Ravens were the only team to knock off both MNU and Evangel last season, both wins coming with last-second heroics, while Avila finished with 18 wins to record the most victories for the program since tallying 16 triumphs in 2003-04.
The sixth and seventh spots were also separated by a slim margin as Central Methodist received 43 points to sit just ahead of Graceland at 40 points. Missouri Valley (27), Peru State (16) and Culver-Stockton (10) finished out the remainder of the poll.
The opening day of competition will be Thursday, November 1 as Benedictine and Graceland will be in action. The opening round of conference games is set for Thursday, November 29 before conference play resumes on Thursday, January 3. The HAAC Tournament begins on Thursday, February 28 with the championship game scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 at the site of the highest remaining seed.