FREELAND, MICH. – The Trine University men's basketball team was picked as the favorites to win the conference in the 2018-19 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Preseason Coaches Poll.
Trine, Hope, and Olivet all received at least one first-place vote with Trine edging the group with 44 total points and three first-place votes. Hope was close behind with 43 points, including three first-place votes, while 2018 MIAA Co-Champion Olivet garnered two first-place votes on the way to 41 points.
Calvin was predicted to finish fourth overall with 40 points, followed by Alma (21 points). Both Albion and Adrian reaped 18 points to tie for sixth place, with Kalamazoo (9 points) rounding out the preseason poll.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Trine finished with a 12-14 record in 2017-18 and were 8-6 in the MIAA. The Thunder return 2018 first-team All-MIAA selection Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) as well as last year's MIAA Defensive Player of the Year Maurice Hunter (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) and fellow second-team All-MIAA pick Pete Smith (Bristol, Ind./Northridge).
In addition to his first-team All-Conference selection, Copeland was also a third-team D3hoops.com All-Region pick after averaging a team-best 20.1 points per game in 2017-18. Copeland scored in double figures in all but five games during the year with 12 games of 20 or more points, four games of 30 or more points and a career-high 41-point effort in a win against Calvin (Mich.) College which was the fourth-highest individual point total in a game in program history. Copeland shot 48.7 percent (189-of-388) overall from the field and 78.0 percent at the free-throw line, leading the team in both free-throws made (145) and attempts (186). His 145 made free-throws were the fifth most in a single season and his 186 attempts ranked as the sixth highest all-time. On the glass, Copeland ranked second on the team in total rebounds with 165 (38 offensive and 127 defensive) and rebounding average at 6.3 boards per game. In addition, he ended the year second in blocked shots with 17 to go along with 40 assists and 13 steals.
Hunter played in all 26 games and was one of four players to average double figures in scoring with 11.2 ppg. while shooting 52.6 percent (122-of-232) from the floor. He led the team, and was third overall in the MIAA, in rebounding average at 7.5 boards per game. Hunter recorded eight double-doubles, including a stretch of four straight games with 10 or more points and rebounds in a single contest. Defensively, Hunter posted a team and league-leading 38 blocked shots.
Smith started 25 out of 26 games last season in his first year with the program. He finished second on the team in scoring at 14.5 ppg. while shooting 44.0 percent (133-of-302) overall. He led the Thunder, as well as the MIAA, in three-point shooting with 79 made triples in 183 attempts (43.2 percent). Highlighting the 2017-18 season, Smith made 11 three-pointers in a win at Kalamazoo (Mich.) College to set a Trine single-game record. Smith finished with 33 points in the game against the Hornets which was a season-high. Smith scored in double figures in all but five games and also led the team in three other statistical categories including free-throw percentage (89.2), assists (94) and steals (31).
Trine will begin the 2018-19 season on Monday, Nov. 12 when it hosts Illinois Institute of Technology at the MTI Center. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
2018-19 MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll
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