WKU hoops: Tops picked 1st in SBC East; Kerusch named SBC Preseason Player of the Year

26 10 2010

After finishing a campaign that most within the program dubbed a disappointment a season ago, Western Kentucky is once again predicted to soar in 2010-11.

The Sun Belt Conference coaches selected WKU to finish No. 1 in the SBC East Division, and selected senior forward Sergio Kerusch as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year as announced by the Sun Belt this morning.

The selections come a season after the Hilltoppers finished 21-13 overall in 2009-10, including a 12-6 mark in the Sun Belt – good for third in the SBC East. Last season also broke a two-year NCAA Tournament streak, as WKU failed to make a postseason appearance.

This marks the second straight season the Hilltoppers have been chosen to win the Sun Belt East. It’s also the second straight season a WKU player has been tabbed as Preseason Player of the Year – as Kerusch follows former standout A.J. Slaughter, who earned the honor last season.

Also earning recognition was fellow senior standout Steffphon Pettigrew, who joined Kerusch, North Texas forward George Odufuwa, North Texas guard Josh White and South Alabama guard Tim Williams on the Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team.

WKU was handed 11 of 12 possible first place votes in the East Division, with Florida Atlantic earning the other. South Alabama was picked third, Middle Tennessee fourth, Florida International fifth and Troy sixth.

On the West side, North Texas – the defending SBC Tournament champion – was selected as a unanimous pick to capture the division crown.

Arkansas State was picked to finish second, followed in order by Denver, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas-Little Rock and Louisiana-Monroe sixth.

Kerusch earns the Preseason Player of the Year honor after averaging 14.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a junior in 2009-10. The Memphis, Tenn., native missed 14 games due to a broken foot, but had double-figure scoring games in 15 contests last season and led the Hilltoppers in rebounding eight times, recording four double-doubles in the process.

Pettigrew, meanwhile, averaged 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds last season en route to an All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team selection. The Elizabethtown native and Kentucky Mr. Basketball 2007 recorded double-figure scoring in 31 of WKU’s 37 games a season ago, and has 55 games of 10 or more points in his career as a Hilltopper.

North Texas and FAU both earned three all-conference selections, and Odufuwa and White were joined by senior guard Tristan Thompson on the second team.

FAU, meanwhile, saw sophomore guards Greg Gantt and Raymond Taylor make the second team, with senior forward Brett Royster landing on the third team. Arkansas State’s Martavius Adams and Donald Boone rounded out the second team, while UALR’s Soloman Bozeman, FIU’s Marvin Roberts, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Randell Daigle and Middle Tennessee’s James Washington rounded out the third team.

WKU hosts its first exhibition game of the 2010-11 season Sunday, when it welcomes Campbellsville to E.A. Diddle Arena at 3 p.m. The regular season begins Nov. 12, when WKU travels to St. Joseph’s.




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