Men’s Basketball Chosen 3rd In SLIAC Preseason Poll

The Westminster men’s basketball team has a different look this season than the quick, predominantly guard-oriented team the Blue Jays are used to. With added size, the Westminster Blue Jays were chosen to finish third in the conference by the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Preseason Poll. The Blue Jays are coached by Head Coach Matt Mitchell.

Coach Mitchell is entering into his 17th season with Westminster. He holds a 221-190 overall record and has led the Blue Jays to 7 consecutive SLIAC Tournaments.

Adding size to the 2014-15 Blue Jay squad was a main focus point in building this year’s team. With the loss of two time All-Conference member and two time All-Defensive Team honoree, Joe James, the Blue Jays wanted to have an outlet down low for the remaining two senior guards, Brandon Moore and Verdis Lee Jr.

Lee Jr. was named to the SLIAC All-Defensive Team and the All-Conference Second Team last season. He led the Blue Jays in multiple statistics last season. He led the Blue Jays with 381 points and led the boards with 129 rebounds. He also had 21 blocks and 22 steals throughout the season.

Moore was a Second Team All-Conference honoree after averaging 14 points per game last season. He shot 47.5 percent from the field and tallied 364 points throughout the 26 game season. He pulled down 102 rebounds and dished in 61 assists.

The Blue Jays will also look to returning guard junior Jay Zalis for another option from the three point line.

Down low, the Blue Jays return starting forward Kellen Brondel and look to sophomore Javier Martin Ortega to step up in the post position. Brondel started 18 games last season and pulled down 73 boards. He had 13 blocks and added 76 points to the season. Martin Ortega averaged 2.7 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.

The Blue Jays will also look to sophomore forward Tanner Gentges to have an impact this year after spending his freshman year out with an injury.

The Blue Jays bring in 27 freshman and transfers for the 2014-15 season. They will look to incoming freshmen guards Tanner Cochran, Jimmy Villalobos and Jordan Jones. They will look to freshman power forward Romulus Tabb and junior transfers Matt Murphy and Brandon Drum to add to the team’s size and talent in the paint.

The Blue Jays finished last season with an 11-7 record and a fourth place seed in the conference, sending them to the seventh consecutive conference tournament. They fell to Spalding in the first round, ending their season 14-12.

Westminster will open the 2014-15 season play in Elmhurst, Illinois at the Tip Off Tournament on November 15-16.  The first opponent of the season is Millikin University at 3:00 p.m. Westminster’s first conference opponent is scheduled for Wednesday, December 3 at home versus Webster University at 8:00 p.m.

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