December 5, 2018 / Trailblazers make climb in national polls
The National Junior College Athletic Association released its first regular season basketball rankings Tuesday afternoon.
After a No. 6 preseason ranking, the Vincennes University men’s basketball team is ranked No. 3 in the NJCAA Division I poll.
The Trailblazers received 362 total points.
Northwest Florida State is No. 1 with 400 points and defending national champion South Plains is No. 2 with 383.
Complete rankings can be found by clicking here.
The Trailblazers, who finished last season with a sparkling 34-3 record and a fourth-place finish in the National Tournament, have raced out to an 11-0 start this season.
“It’s nice,” VU coach Todd Franklin said of the ranking. “You always want to be at the top of your field and scholarship college basketball is one of the most competitive things in the world. People spend a lot of time, money and effort to be good across the country.”
Among the 11 wins, VU owns victories over No. 13 ranked John A. Logan and Highland -- two straight National Tournament qualifiers.
The Trailblazers are led by a trio of sophomores in Keith Clemons, Lony Francis, Jr. and George Dixon.
Clemons leads the team with 16.9 points per game while dishing out 3.9 assists per contest.
Francis, who netted a career high of 30 points in the Trailblazers win over Highland, adds 14.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while Dixon averages 12.1 points and a team-best 8.6 boards per game.
“This is a relatively new team with just the three returning players as we still have two others (who redshirted last season) out with injuries,” Franklin said. “I don’t think we could expect a whole lot more from this team. You always want more, but reasonably, I couldn’t ask for us to play better than we have through these first 11 games.”
VU is averaging 95 points per game and leads the NJCAA DI in defensive scoring average with allowing only 54 points a game.
The Trailblazers are rated No. 1 in the latest Massey Ratings and also picked up another award on Tuesday.
VU was selected as the NJCAA team of the week by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
“To be near the top of your field and get recognized is always good,” the NJCAA Hall of Fame coach said. “It’s good for the university and brings a lot of national attention in a positive way. We have been fortunate these last eight or nine years to be receiving all of this recognition because of the great work of some great guys.
“You can’t get all worked up because it’s all just a beauty contest in someone’s opinion and at the end of the day none of this gets you better for the next game, but I do think this team deserves all the recognition they receive.”
The Trailblazers return to the court at District 16 foe Kaskaskia on Saturday, 4 p.m. (EST).
LINK to VU Online Newsroom, click HERE
MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports Information Director
812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell, VUNews@vinu.edu, email@example.com
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom