North Central College’s football season hadn’t even kicked off yet when the men’s basketball team received its first preseason recognition.
The Cardinals were picked fifth in NCAA Division III by The Sporting News College Basketball Preview magazine, which was released last week.
“It’s a compliment to our kids and the program,” NCC coach Todd Raridon said. “Our finish last year probably had a lot to do with it. We return a lot of guys off of that team. It’s nice recognition for the players and the program, but at the same time, we still have to start our practice on Oct. 15 and play some games.”
Senior Landon Gamble was selected to the Preseason All-American First Team by the magazine as well.
Gamble has been the Cardinals’ leading scorer in each of the past three seasons.
“Landon has been an important part of our program,” Raridon said. “We’re hoping for as good if not better things from Landon this year. His role expands even more than what it has been the past three years, not only with leadership, but his production will expand too.”
The Cardinals are coming off the finest season in program history, reaching the national semifinals with a school-record 28-4 mark. They opened the season with a 13-game winning streak, also a school record, and earned the No. 1 ranking in the nation by D3hoops.com.
Williams College earned the top spot in the poll. Fellow CCIW foes Illinois Wesleyan (third) and Wheaton (seventh) also appeared in the top 10.
The season opens the weekend of November 15 and 16 as the Cardinals host the Chicago Marriott Naperville Tip-Off Tournament.
Stellar Crain run
For the second straight week, senior cross country star John Crain was named the national Division III Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Crain’s second-place performance at the Illinois State University Invitational helped the Cardinals win the meet. The field included five Division I opponents. The Cardinals also sent a squad to the Illinois Intercollegiate Invitational last Friday. That group of Cardinals finished third in the 18-team field in Bourbonnais.
The Cardinals, who remain the top-ranked team in the Midwest Region, get back in action at St. James Farm in Warrenville on Saturday at the Wheaton College Invitational at 10:45 a.m.
Soccer streak ends
The Cardinals ran off four straight victories, capped by Thursday’s 3-0 win over Benedictine. But the streak came to an end Sunday against Wisconsin-Whitewater.
NCC scored first on a Ryan Johnson goal, but Whitewater rallied for a 2-1 win. The Cardinals play Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium as they host Milwaukee School of Engineering.