by Cliff Mehrtens

DAVIDSON – Expectations are high surrounding the Davidson College basketball program.

The men’s team was picked first in the Southern Conference coaches’ poll and media poll. Wildcats forward De’Mon Brooks was voted conference preseason player of the year, and senior teammates Jake Cohen and Nik Cochran were voted to the preseason all-conference team.

Ditto for the Davidson women’s squad, also was picked to win the Southern Conference championship (which it shared with Appalachian State last season). Davidson forward Sophia Aleksandravicius was selected as the conference preseason player of the year.

Both Wildcats teams will debut Nov. 9 against opponents of different pedigrees.

The Davidson men will host Emory, an NCAA Division III school, at 7 p.m. at Belk Arena.

The Davidson women will visit Chapel Hill to play at 5 p.m. against North Carolina, a perennial national power, in the Women’s Preseason National Invitational Tournament.

The Wildcats men’s team was 25-8 last season and 16-2 in conference play. Davidson won the conference tournament with a 93-91 double-overtime victory against Western Carolina. All five starters are back, as are the top eight scorers and rebounders from last year’s team.

“It’s a great advantage to have so many veterans on the team, guys who’ve played significant minutes and have had significant experience,” Davidson men’s coach Bob McKillop said. “So we’re going a little faster and doing more 5-on-5 stuff than we’ve ever done before. We’ve had a number of scrimmages intra-squad and really getting a great insight as to what’s good for us, and good for individuals. I think collectively we’re coming together pretty well.”

Davidson made its 11th NCAA tournament appearance, and sixth under McKillop, last season. The Wildcats have won 25 or more games four of the past six seasons.

Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward and Hopewell High alum, was an Associated Press All-America honorable mention pick last year. The Southern Conference coaches voted him conference player of the year, and he was the conference tournament’s most outstanding player.

Brooks led Davidson in scoring (15.7 points), rebounding (6.2), field-goal percentage (.530) and steals (33).

He’s complemented on the inside by Cohen, a 6-10 forward who was voted the Southern Conference player of the year by the media last season. Cohen averaged 14.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and a conference-leading 1.7 blocks per game.

Cochran, a guard who started every game last season, averaged 10.9 points while leading Davidson in assists per game (3.6), free-throw percentage (.886) and three-point percentage (.373).

The women’s team will rely heavily on Aleksandravicius, the reigning Southern Conference player of the year, as voted on by the coaches last year.

She’s a 6-5 forward who led the conference in rebounding (8.9 per game) and blocks (93) and averaged 14 points per game last year. She had 11 double-doubles to push her career total to 30.

Aleksandravicius begins her senior season looking to break Davidson’s all-time scoring and rebounding records. She needs 210 points to pass Davidson Hall of Famer Jennifer O’Brien and 83 rebounds to overtake Carolyn Kirsch, another Wildcat Hall of Famer. She already holds all the blocked shot records.

The Davidson women were 22-10 last season and 17-3 in conference games. Guard Laura Murray, a key returnee, joined Aleksandravicius on the coaches’ all-preseason team. Murray led the Wildcats in scoring (14.5 average) last season and was 19th in the nation in three-point percentage (39.3).

Davidson’s Michele Savage was the Southern Conference women’s coach of the year last season.

Davidson women’s schedule

Date Opponent Time

Nov. 9 at North Carolina 5 p.m.

Nov. 11-19 Preseason Women’s NIT TBD

Nov. 25 at Rutgers 2 p.m.

Nov. 28 at Mercer 7 p.m.

Dec. 1 Georgia Southern 6 p.m.

Dec. 5 High Point 5 p.m.

Dec. 8 at Miam 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 13 at Gardner-Webb 7 p.m.

Dec. 21 at Charlotte 7 p.m.

Dec. 28 at Tennessee 7 p.m.

Jan. 5 Appalachian State 3 p.m.

Jan. 7 at College of Charleston 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 at Wofford 2 p.m.

Jan. 15 at Furman 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 Chattanooga 7 p.m.

Jan. 20 Samford 2 p.m.

Jan. 23 UNC Greensboro 7 p.m.

Jan. 26 Elon 2 p.m.

Jan. 28 at Western Carolina 7 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Georgia Southern 5 p.m.

Feb. 9 at Appalachian State 2 p.m.

Feb. 11 College of Charleston 7 p.m.

Feb. 16 Furman 2 p.m.

Feb. 18 Wofford 7 p.m.

Feb. 20 at UNC Greensboro 7 p.m.

Feb. 23 at Samford 5 p.m.

Feb. 25 at Chattanooga 7 p.m.

March 2 at Elon 2 p.m.

March 4 Western Carolina 7 p.m.

March 8-11 Southern Conference tournament TBD

Davidson men’s schedule

Date Opponent Time

Nov. 9 Emory 7 p.m.

Nov. 12 at New Mexico 11:59 p.m.

Nov. 17 at Wisconsin-Milwaukee 7 p.m.

Nov. 22 Vanderbilt 2 p.m.

Nov. 23 West Virginia/Marist TBD

Nov. 25 TBD (Old Spice Classic)

Dec. 1 at Chattanooga 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 5 Charlotte 8 p.m.

Dec. 8 Wofford 7 p.m.

Dec. 15 UNC Wilmington 7 p.m.

Dec. 22 at Drexel 8 p.m.

Dec. 29 at Richmond 6 p.m.

Jan. 2 vs. Duke (in Charlotte) 7 p.m.

Jan. 5 UNC Greensboro 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 at Furman 4:30 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Georgia Southern 7 p.m.

Jan. 17 The Citadel 7 p.m.

Jan. 19 College of Charleston 7 p.m.

Jan. 24 at Western Carolina 7 p.m.

Jan. 26 at Appalachian State 2 p.m.

Jan. 31 Samford 7 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Wofford 7 p.m.

Feb. 7 Western Carolina 7 p.m.

Feb. 9 Appalachian State 4 p.m.

Feb. 14 at College of Charleston 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 16 at The Citadel 7:05 p.m.

Feb. 20 Furman 7 p.m.

Feb. 23 Bracketbusters TBD

Feb. 27 at Elon 7 p.m.

March 2 Georgia Southern 2 p.m.

March 8-11 Southern Conference tournament TBD