Bridgeport, W. Va. - Following the release of the Mountain East Conference (MEC) preseason polls on Tuesday morning, the MEC held their annual Basketball Media Day in person at the Bridgeport Conference Center. All 12 men's and women's basketball coaches from across the conference addressed the media, giving a short preview of what is to come in the 2022-23 season. Wheeling University Head Women's Basketball Coach Anna Kowalska and Head Men's Basketball Coach Chris Richardson took to the podium to preview their team's upcoming season.
MEC Commissioner Reid Amos was first to the podium to start the day as he welcomed the group and gave a rundown of the state of MEC basketball. He recognized Glenville State University for their 2022 NCAA Division II National Championship and recognized them as one of five schools in MEC history to take home a National Championship title, with one of those National Championships coming from Wheeling University's Volleyball team in 2015. Overall, Amos is excited about the state of the conference and the many successes that are to come.
"The Mountain East Conference is the NCAA Division II's newest conference at just 10 years old and we already have five national championships in the conference's history," said Amos. "The state of the MEC is strong and we look forward to all the success that is still to come."
The MEC Women's Basketball coaches were first to take the stage after the Wheeling University Women's Basketball team ranked 9th in this year's preseason poll. Head Coach Anna Kowalska took the podium ahead of her first season with Wheeling University and highlighted the team's strong returning core. She highlighted her 11 returners to this year's team, saying that they all will receive playing time this year. She is also excited about the eight newcomers to the program and getting them out on the floor this season.
Lauren Calhoun will be playing in the post once again for the Cardinals and was highlighted as one of the big post players for Kowalska's team. After averaging 19.4 points per game this past season, and 11.4 rebounds per game, Calhoun will once again be a big player for the Cardinals under the net. Kowalska noted the tough preseason schedule ahead of her team and they will look to use that strong competition to propel them this season.
"I am very excited to be coaching in this conference and I am very excited about my team this season," said Kowalska. "We are scrimmaging some tough Division I teams and we set up a tough non-conference schedule to help us get ready for this year and the great competition that is in our conference."
The men rounded out the day as Wheeling University Head Men's Basketball Coach Chris Richardson joined his 12 colleagues. The Cardinals were picked #10 in this season's preseason poll and, despite losing some key players from last season, Richardson is really excited about his returning corps of players. Among the highlighted returners were Brent Price, Andrew Taylor, and John Korte, who were all big parts of the MEC playoff run a year ago. Richardson said that Korte and Price have taken the leadership role since last spring and are working on setting the tone for this season.
While there are some strong returners, the Cardinals also have a group of 11 newcomers that include 10 freshmen and one transfer player. Marcus Johnson was named as a player to watch under the net after transferring from Parkland last season and can play strong defense while also being a strong shooter. He also brought in some strong local talent, including Raef Wykes (Linsly), Ryan Reasbeck (Wheeling Central Catholic), and S.J. Hutchinson (The Phelps School). Richardson and his teams had certain goals they set this season and they are hoping to achieve those goals with a young team this season.
"Coming into this season we wanted to get bigger, and we were able to do that with this class," said Richardson. "We are looking to be more balanced this year, the question just is how it will all come together. We have a lot of talented pieces, and we are looking to see how it all plays out."
The first official practices for the Wheeling University Men's and Women's Basketball teams will be on Saturday, October 15th. They then kick off the regular season with the men on Friday, November 11th, and the women on Saturday, November 12th.