Anchormen Unanimous Choice In Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll

Anchormen Unanimous Choice In Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Rhode Island College sits atop the Little East Conference Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll for the fourth straight season after a vote by the conference's eight head coaches. The Anchormen are the first unanimous selection in the history of the Little East, earning all eight first-place votes for a total of 64 points.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is predicted to finish second with 55 points, while Keene State College and Western Connecticut State University share the third spot in the annual survey with 43 total points.

Under the watchful eye of Head Coach Bob Walsh, Rhode Island College has raised the Little East Conference Tournament trophy the past two seasons. The Anchormen will attempt to become just the second team to capture three consecutive conference tournament crowns since the Corsairs recorded the three-peat from 1993-95. Rhode Island College has already garnered some national attention, earning the No. 16 ranking in the D3Hoops.com national preseason poll. Walsh returns all five starters and top-seven scorers from last season's club that posted an overall record of 23-7, marking the third most single-season victories in the program's history. Senior guards Tirrell Hill (Bronx, N.Y.) and Cameron Stewart (Newport, R.I.) are the top-returning offensive threats. Hill averaged 13.9 points to earn all-conference first-team honors, while Stewart poured in 10 points per game. Senior guard Bobby Bailey (Fall River, Mass.) can fill up a stat sheet, averaging 9.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals per game. The all-Little East second-team pick was named the conference most outstanding player in the 2008 Little East Conference Tournament. The Anchormen begin their title defense at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Manhattanville College.

                   

Head Coach Brian Baptiste led UMass Dartmouth to the program's first regular season title since 2001 and a first round bye in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Corsairs were ranked among the top-25 teams in the nation for the majority of the campaign, rising to No. 2 in the country on Feb. 3, 2008. UMass Dartmouth posted the second most single-season victories in the program's history, boasting an overall record of 25-4. Baptiste will welcome back all-conference first-team senior guard Reece Freeman (Cambridge, Mass.) and the 2008 Little East Rookie of the Year, Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, Mass.).

The Corsairs host Framingham State College at 3 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the semifinal round of the annual Hampton Inn Classic.

A year ago, the Owls reached the Little East Conference Tournament semifinal round for the seventh time in the past eight seasons. Head Coach Rob Colbert led Keene State to an overall record of 16-11, including an 8-6 mark in the conference. The Owls' will depend on the front-court combination of senior Tyler Kathan (Ludlow, Vt.) and classmate Nate Anderson (Westminster, Mass.) to provide the scoring punch. Kathan was recently named to the D3Hoops.com Preseason All-America, first-team.  The two-time All-Little East first-team selection nearly averaged a double-double during his junior campaign, scoring 18.1 points and pulling in 8.3 rebounds per game. Anderson also averaged double figures in points with 10.6. Keene State College will host Springfield College at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 in its season debut.

The Colonials are ranked among the top-four teams in the preseason conference standings for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons. Head Coach Bob Campbell and Western Connecticut are coming off a 15-12 record and a berth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference New England semifinals. The guard combination of senior Dashon Jennings (Bridgeport, Conn.) and junior Tyshawn Gillespie (Hartford, Conn.) will power Colonials' offense. Jennings is the top-returning scorer, averaging 13.0 points, while Gillespie is top-playmaker, handing out a team best 115 assists. Western Connecticut will open the campaign at the Roger Williams Tournament on Nov. 21 against Tufts University.     

Completing the coaches' poll in projected order of finish are Eastern Connecticut State University (30), Plymouth State University (25), University of Massachusetts Boston (15), and the University of Southern Maine (13).

Initially formed in 1986 as a six-team men's and women's basketball conference, the Little East Conference has since grown to its present eight-school membership, sponsoring championship play in 19 intercollegiate athletics: baseball; men's and women's basketball; men's and women's cross country; field hockey; men's and women's lacrosse; men's and women's soccer; softball; women's swimming; men's and women's tennis; men's and women's indoor track; men's and women's outdoor track and women's volleyball.

Ranking

Institution

First Place

Total Points

1.

Rhode Island College

8

64

2.

UMass Dartmouth

 

55

3.

Keene State College

 

43

 

Western Connecticut State

 

43

5.

Eastern Connecticut State

 

30

6.

Plymouth State University

 

25

7.

UMass Boston

 

15

8.

Southern Maine

 

13