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Fort Wayne hoop programs garner national recognition

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at Tom101010.

Indiana Tech, Saint Francis both ranked in NAIA poll

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 7:30 am

Fort Wayne was well represented in the 2012-13 NAIA men’s basketball Division II preseason poll released Tuesday.

Indiana Tech earned a spot in the top 25, while Saint Francis was rated 34th.

"It feels good," Indiana Tech coach Al Grushkin said of the ranking. "Hopefully we can play like we deserve it."

It was the second consecutive season that the Warriors began as one of the nation's best programs and their league, the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference had four programs included in the poll (Davenport University at No. 11, Cornerstone University at No. 20 and Madonna University receiving votes).

Indiana Tech returns four veterans, including Preseason All-WHAC selection Jordan Hickman, from last year's 23-8 squad that reached the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since 2008.

Grushkin enters his third year at the helm. During his time on the bench at Indiana Tech, He has rejuvenated the program, compiling a record of 45-19. He has also turned Indiana Tech into one of the toughest defensive teams in the nation.

Over the past two seasons, the Warriors have been in the top 10 defensively, allowing just 58 points per game while limiting opponents to 40 percent shooting.

The Warriors open their season by hosting Indiana Dabney University at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Both Indiana Tech and Saint Francis earned trips to the NAIA National Tournament last spring.

The Cougars finished at No. 19 with a 23-13 record in the final 2011-12 NAIA Coaches Top 25. They upset No. 9 Jamestown and No. 7 Bellevue before falling to No. 2 (and eventual national champion) Oregon Tech in the Elite Eight.

Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross enters his third season with three returning starters in junior Scott Kohne (12.2 ppg), senior Ethan Hussey (9.8 ppg) and sophomore Seth Small (5.3 ppg).

The Cougars return five more players who played significant minutes in 2011-12, as well as six newcomers.

LaCross is 51-23 in his first two seasons and his team will open play on at 9 p.m. Nov. 2 at Concordia University.

Indiana Tech will host Saint Francis at 8 p.m. on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. and then travel to Saint Francis at 3 p.m. on Nov. 24.