Men Picked Fourth, Women Ninth in Preseason Poll
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Oct. 23, 2003

BEMIDJI, MINN. - The 2003-04 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll was announced today with the Bemidji State men’s basketball team coming in fourth while the women’s basketball squad was tabbed ninth.

Also, senior forward Charles Hanks (Chicago, Ill.), was selected as the 2003-04 NSIC Men’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year. Earlier this month, Hanks was thought to be the first BSU men’s basketball player to be an NCAA Division II Preseason All-American as he was announced on the 2003-04 Street & Smith’s Men’s Basketball D-II Honorable Mention All-American Team.

Hanks, a two-time All-NSIC First Team selection and 2001-02 NSIC Newcomer of the Year, brings career averages of 17.5 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game and a 52.8 percent shooting clip to the 2003-04 season. “Buster” Hanks holds the BSU single-game scoring high with 44 points against Winona State, Mar. 1, 2003. The 6-8 forward has been in the top-30 in the league in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, blocks and steal in his two seasons at Bemidji State. Hanks played one season at South Plains (KS) Community College before his BSU arrival - he was an all-conference performer there. A 2002-03 NSIC Preseason Player to Watch, Hanks was the first BSU first-team all-conference repeat selection since Mac Smith (1998-2001).

The men’s program received 45 votes with one first-place tally after making it to the NSIC Tournament Semifinals last season. BSU finished the year 17-12, the second consecutive season with the 17 wins. In the polls, the Beavers are looking up at Winona State in first, which has 58 points and four first-place votes, Northern State, which has 54 votes and two first-place votes and Minnesota-Duluth, which has 48 votes and one first-place vote. In what could be the closet poll in recent memory, SW Minnesota State received one first-place vote as it tied with Wayne State (Neb.) for fifth.

On the women’s side, Bemidji State was selected ninth. The Beavers went 9-18 in 2002-03 nearly doubling their league win total (5) from two years ago. BSU, which finished in ninth-place last year, welcomes back junior Stacia Swanson(Sioux City, Iowa). Swanson is a 2003-04 NSIC Women’s Basketball Player to Watch after averaging 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game before suffering a knee injury after 19 games in 2002-03.

Swanson played her rookie campaign for the Beavers last season after transferring from Metro State College (Colo.). Swanson, who tore her ACL and MCL in her left knee in the Concordia-St. Paul contest (1/25/03), started in 18 of her 19 appearances. In league games, Swanson finished first in steals per game, third in rebounds per game,, fourth in defensive rebounds per game (5.21), fifth in offensive rebounds per game (2.63), 10th in field goal percentage (.484), 11th in scoring (13.1) and 20th in blocks per game (0.47). The 5-11 junior tallied a personal-best 21 points twice with the last coming against MSU-Moorhead (1/4/03). She hit for double-figures in points on 15 occasions, finishing her season with 14 points, 11 rebounds against the Golden Bears (1/25/03); it was her third double-double of the season.

Minnesota-Duluth, which last year earned its 10th regular season title in the last 14 years, is perched atop the polls with 60 votes and four first-place nods. Concordia-St. Paul (third) received three first-place votes and MSU-Moorhead (third) got two first-place votes, rounding out the top-three.

The men begin the season at home against North Dakota, Nov. 15 at 8:00 p.m. Meanwhile, the women start off on the road at the Northwest Missouri State Tournament, Nov. 21-22.