With the American Rivers Conference season quickly approaching, the Simpson College men's basketball squad was tabbed ninth in the A-R-C Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced Wednesday by the league.
The conference's coaches selected Loras to finish first, while the defending regular season and tournament champions, Nebraska Wesleyan, follows in second. Wartburg and Dubuque fill the third and fourth-place slots, Buena Vista and Coe tie for fifth, and Central and Luther share seventh.
The Storm closed the 2019-20 regular season in fifth place in the conference standings with a 14-13 overall mark and 7-9 output against A-R-C foes. Head coach Brad Bjorkgren led the team to the second round of the conference tournament for the second-straight season. Bjorkgren has reached the league tournament each year since taking over in 2015.
After graduating three all-conference players from last year's team, Simpson returns two players that registered a start last season, senior Kade Tatkenhorst and sophomore Collin Lister. Lister averaged 7.3 points per game in his first season with the program and Tatkenhorst poured in 2.3.
The offense finished 16th in the nation in field goal percentage (48.8%) and free throw percentage (76.8%) at the end of last year's campaign. Among conference competition, the Storm were second in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage (38.5%).
Simpson will begin A-R-C play on Saturday, Jan. 23 when Luther visits for a 4 p.m. contest. Both teams split the season series a year ago. The Storm opened up the regular season last night on the road at Wartburg, but fell, 69-64.
2020-21 American Rivers Conference Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Loras (17-9, 10-6 A-R-C)
2. Nebraska Wesleyan (25-4, 15-1 A-R-C)
3. Wartburg (12-15, 7-9 A-R-C)
4. Dubuque (14-11, 7-9 A-R-C)
T-5. Buena Vista (18-8, 9-7 A-R-C)
T-5. Coe (17-10, 11-5 A-R-C)
T-7. Central (5-20, 2-14 A-R-C)
T-7. Luther (8-17, 4-12 A-R-C)
9. Simpson (14-13, 7-9 A-R-C)