Skyhawks picked second in OVC men’s preseason poll
Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2008 2:27 pm
The Skyhawks garnered 142 points and six first-place votes in the preseason ballot, which was just behind predicted winner Murray State, which accumulated 149 points and 11 first-place votes. All voting was conducted by the league’s head men’s basketball coaches and sports information directors and the results were revealed from LP Field in Nashville.
This marks the highest that UT Martin has been ranked in the preseason since joining the OVC in 1992. Previously, the Skyhawks hadn’t been picked any higher than sixth (four different times).
Head coach Bret Campbell returns four starters and eight lettermen from last season’s squad that exceeded all expectations and set a new standard for UT Martin basketball teams.
After being picked to finish last in the OVC preseason polls and dropping to a 10-14 record after a Jan. 31 loss to Tennessee Tech, the Skyhawks unfurled a six-game winning streak in the month of February and finished with an 11-9 OVC record, good enough for fourth place in the standings.
A fourth-place finish meant hosting a first round OVC Tournament game, a memorable matchup against Samford. Three overtimes later, the Skyhawks sent the Bulldogs home with a loss in their last game as an OVC member in a 101-94 thriller that was the longest game in OVC Tournament history.
Next came the trip to Nashville for an OVC Tournament semifinal showdown against the league’s top seed, Austin Peay. The Skyhawks battled the Govs down to the wire, but a pair of free throws by APSU’s Drake Reed with 2.2 seconds left ended the Skyhawks’ magical season by a 78-77 final score.
For the season, UT Martin led the league in scoring offense (77.6 points per game) and 3-point field goals made (9.36 per game).
Campbell’s guidance to a fourth-place finish in the OVC was their best finish ever since joining the league in 1992. The Skyhawks’ advancement to the OVC tournament semifinals in Nashville was also a first in school history.
The Skyhawks wrapped up the season with a 17-16 overall won-loss record, their best mark ever since becoming a member of the NCAA’s Division I in 1992.
In April, Campbell was named OVC Co-Coach of the Year by collegeinsider.com, sharing the honor with Morehead State’s Donnie Tyndall.