SAINT LEO, Fla. - The Saint Leo University men’s basketball team was eighth in the 2008-09 Sunshine State Conference Pre-Season Poll released on Wednesday.  Defending SSC Champion Florida Southern was tabbed the preseason favorite to again win the SSC men’s basketball title.

Saint Leo totaled 54 points in the pre-season poll, and was picked to finish one spot lower than the Lions finished in 2007-08.  The Lions had a 14-15 overall record a season ago, and a 6-10 record in the SSC, which saw them finish in seventh place.  The pre-season rankings saw the Lions within three points of sixth place Tampa (57) and two points behind Florida Tech (56) who sits in seventh.

Saint Leo returns 10 players for the 2008-09 season, including All-Conference and All-Region selection Jordan Prais as well as Kyle Rowland and Quentin Cullop.  The trio of returners combined to average nearly 30 minutes per game and score over 12 points per contest.

Voting for the SSC men’s basketball preseason poll was conducted among the league’s head men’s basketball coaches and sports information directors.

Florida Southern collected 16 of a possible 18 first-place votes and amassed 128 points in the preseason poll. Considering voters did not rank their own teams, FSC claimed every possible first-place nod.

Rollins received 100 points to place second in the preseason poll, while Eckerd's 90 points placed the Tritons third. Nova Southeastern and Lynn were neck-and-neck for the fourth slot, with NSU tallying 73 points to edge Lynn with 72.

The Saint Leo men’s basketball team will open its 2008-09 schedule at home versus the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey on Wednesday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m.  The Lions will play at home for the first three games of the season and four of the opening five contests overall.  Saint Leo will open its SSC schedule at home against Barry University on New Year’s Eve at noon.

Rank - School, Points (1st Place Votes)
1 - Florida Southern, 128 points (16)
2 - Rollins, 100 (1)
3 - Eckerd, 90
4 - Nova Southeastern, 73 (1)
5 - Lynn, 72
6 - Tampa, 57
7 - Florida Tech, 56
8 - Saint Leo, 54
9 - Barry 18