A year after finishing ninth in the regular season standings, the Runnin Royals have enough respect to earn a spot at No. 7 in the preseason poll. In a vote by the ODAC coaches, EMU's basketball men were in a tight group of three teams, finishing just four points behind Randolph College at No. 5 and Lynchburg at No. 6.
The men must replace three starters from a team which knocked on eighth-seeded Washington and Lee on the road in an ODAC Tournament First Round game last year. Eastern Mennonite lost to eventual runner-up Virginia Wesleyan in the quarterfinals and finished 15-12 overall and 7-9 in ODAC play.
All-ODAC Third Team honoree RJ Sims (Fort Washington, Md./Friendly) is expected to lead the Runnin Royals this year. The 6-5 wing averaged 13.6 points as a junior, adding 3.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 steals. Guard James Williams (Capitol Heights, Md./Archbishop Carroll), who took over a starting spot late in his sophomore season, is the only other returning starter. He contributed 5.0 points and 1.9 assists per game. The three starters the men lost each averaged 9.0 points or better, including All-ODAC Second Teamer Andrew Thorne, who finished his career as EMU's 20th 1,000-point scorer at 1,053.
David Falk (Madison, Va./Madison) is expected to help fill some of that void, as the 6-6 junior averaged 7.2 points and 5.5 rebounds off the bench. He was tied for second in the ODAC with 1.7 blocks per game. 6-7 wing Ryan Yates (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) added 6.8 points last year.
Eastern Mennonite's 2013-14 season starts Nov. 16 against NCAA-participant Staten Island at the Mary Washington Tip-Off Tournament in Fredericksburg, Va.
2013-14 ODAC MEN'S BASKETBALL PREASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
1. Randolph-Macon (8)
2. Hampden-Sydney (4)
3. Virginia Wesleyan
7. Eastern Mennonite
8. Washington and Lee
11. Emory & Henry