LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's "morning madness" for the Bellarmine University men's basketball team. 

The Knights practice for the first time on Friday morning.  Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport is excited for the challenges awaiting his team in the 2016-17 season.   

The Division II Bulletin holds the Bellarmine men's basketball team and senior Rusty Troutman in high regard.  The publication has just released its 2016-17 preseason rankings and the Knights are No. 1 in the nation while Troutman was named as a "Super 16" selection.

The Knights have made eight straight NCAA appearances, including a national championship in 2011 and final four appearances in 2012 and 2015.  Last season, Bellarmine finished 23-7 and claimed the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division's regular season title.
The Super 16 is the publication's list of its top two players in each region.  Troutman and Lake Superior State's Akaemji Williams were the Midwest Region's honorees.
Last season, Troutman earned NABC All American honors after leading the Knights last season in scoring (18.2), 3-point percentage (46.9) and 3-pointers made (61). The Bullitt East (Ky.) High School product ranked second on the Knights in rebounding (4.8) and field-goal percentage (56.1) and third on the team in free-throw percentage (80.0), assists (2.7) and steals (26).
The Bellarmine Knights will open with the exact same exhibition opponents as they faced last year:  the Cincinnati Bearcats (Nov. 2), the Indiana Hoosiers (Nov. 5) and the Louisville Cardinals (Nov. 7).  Coach Davenport  says playing at Cincinnati, at Indiana and at Louisville is a great way to start the season. He says they are three of hardest playing, well-coached teams in all of college basketball. Plus they are all on the road in six days.

The regular season schedule features the always rigorous Great Lakes Valley Conference slate along with non-conference games against some the top teams in Division II.  One of the highlights of the schedule is an appearance in the inaugural Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Evansville on Nov. 18 and 19.

CLICK HERE for the Bellarmine Knights men's season schedule. 

For more coverage of Bellarmine athletics, follow them on Twitter (@BUKnights), Instagram (BUKnights), Facebook (BUKnights) and the BUKnights mobile app available for iPhone and Android.

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