The players and coaches may change, but the level of play remains at a consistent level for most of the KCAC basketball teams.

The men’s and women’s coaches met with the media Tuesday in Wichita during the KCAC Media Day to talk about their teams for the upcoming season. The preseason consensus on the men’s side is there is not a real favorite, while the women coaches expect the top finishers from a year ago to battle for the championship.

“The league is really wide-open,” Ottawa men’s coach Aaron Siebenthall said about the men’s division. “All five-member first team All-KCAC guys are gone. Three of the second team members graduated. It is going to be a lot of new faces and new players. A lot of talent is back in the league. The team that can mesh that new talent with the returners is the one who can emerge from this group.”

The coaches selected Southwestern as a slight favorite over defending champion Oklahoma Wesleyan. The media selected Oklahoma Wesleyan over Southwestern. Siebenthall said five teams received a first-place vote in the coaches poll, which shows how wide open the coaches feel the race could be. Ottawa was selected fourth by the coaches and fifth in the media poll.

Siebenthall said the challenge for each team is to compete at a high level during the 24-game conference schedule.

“It is grind,” he said. “It is much physical as it is mental. There are a lot of good coaches. The talent in this league is really exploded the last five, six, seven years. There are some really dynamic players in this league. It makes it a challenge every night.”

Sterling, the women’s runner-up last season, was selected No. 1 in both polls, edging defending champion Tabor. Ottawa was selected eighth by the media and 10th in the coaches poll.

“The top half is a pretty experienced group,” Ottawa women’s coach Bruce Tate said. “They are returning player-wise and [winning] tradition-wise. Bethany [selected third] could sneak up on some people. After those top four teams, it will be pretty wide open. People will need to stay healthy and play good team basketball.”

Tate said the conference schedule is rugged, but the coaches that stay with the long-range plan usually fare better. He said many games are decided by a couple of possessions. Ottawa, which finished ninth last year, could have moved up a couple of spots by winning more of its share of close games.

“Only a few possessions made a difference,” he said. “We do have kids that been through that before. Hopefully that experience pays off.”

KCAC Men

Coaches

1. Southwestern (5), 132; 2. Oklahoma Wesleyan (3), 130; 3, Kansas Wesleyan (3), 124; 4. Ottawa (1), 104; 5. Friends (1), 101; 6. Saint Mary, 90; 7. York, 80; 8. Bethany, 70; 9. Tabor, 56; 10. Bethel, 54; 11, McPherson, 29; 12, Avila, 26; 13, Sterling, 18.

Media

1. Oklahoma Wesleyan (14), 311; 2. Southwestern (9), 288; 3, Kansas Wesleyan, 266; 4, Friends (2), 250; 5. Ottawa, 203; 6. Bethany, 176; 7. York, 159; 8. Saint Mary, 158; 9, Tabor, 153; 10, Bethel, 137; 11, McPherson, 53; 12, Sterling, 53; 13. Avila, 45.

KCAC Women

Coaches

1. Sterling (7), 135; 2. Tabor (3), 129; 3. Bethany (2), 116; 4, Kansas Wesleyan (2), 107; 5, Avila (1), 101; 6. Bethel, 92; 7, Oklahoma Wesleyan, 83; McPherson, 59; 9. Friends, 54; 10. Ottawa, 45; 11, Southwestern, 39; 12, Saint Mary, 35; 13, York, 19.

Media

1. Sterling (16), 295; 2, Tabor (8), 290; 3. Kansas Wesleyan, 256; 4. Bethany, 221; 5. Bethel, 206; 6. Oklahoma Wesleyan, 178; 7, Avila, 170; 8. Ottawa, 153; 9. McPherson, 126; 10. Friends, 82; 11, Southwestern, 76; 12, Saint Mary, 76; 13. York, 36.