(Posted November 12, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - The Juniata College men's basketball team received 30 points from the head coaches and sports information directors in the Landmark Conference, placing them fifth in the preseason poll, released Wednesday.

The Eagles are coming off a 7-18 season a year ago and return six sophomores and three upperclassmen to their 2009 squad.

Although they only return three upperclassmen, one of them is an All-Conference guard in senior Jeff Berkey (Stoystown, Pa./Shanksville-Stonycreek). Berkey was second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game overall while leading the Eagles in conference points per game with 14.8. He also dished out 55 assists and averaged 2.6 rebounds per conference game.

Juniata also returns senior Ryan Jones (Coudersport, Pa./Coudersport), a 6-7 forward who averaged 8.7 points per game in the Landmark Conference. He also grabbed 5.9 rebounds per game when playing against conference foes.

The team also welcomes five new faces to the program, all first-year students. Mike Walker (Homer City, Pa./Homer City), Tim Berguson (Mansfield, Pa./Mansfield), Alex Raymond (Holidaysburg, Pa./Altoona), Darnell Wiley (Laytonsville, Md./St. John Prospect Hall), and Nate Higgins (St. Mary's, Pa./ Elk County Catholic) will all look to make major contributions coming into their first season.

Catholic University was selected as the favorite, collecting 66 points and was in the top three in all ballots. The second through fourth spots are tight as only 10 points separate them. Merchant Marine came away with 60 points and a second place spot. The two-time defending champions, Scranton, is one point behind the Mariners with 59. Trailing the Royals is Susquehanna who received 50 points. All three teams earned at least one first-place vote.

Following the Eagles in sixth place is Moravian. They finished one point behind Juniata with 29 points.

Rounding out the conference preseason poll is Goucher in seventh and Drew in eighth. The Gophers return twelve letter-winners to their lineup and earned 23 points. Drew finished 4-21 a season ago but bring in 10 freshmen, and collected 17 point.

The 2009-10 season opens for the Eagles on November 16, when they travel to Division II Seton Hill at 7 p.m. Their first Landmark Conference action will be December 5, when the Crusaders travel to Huntingdon.


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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.