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Rhode Island College Chosen As 2011 Men's Basketball Favorite

Rhode Island College Chosen As 2011 Men's Basketball Favorite

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Rhode Island College has been chosen as the Little East men's basketball favorite for the fifth time in the past six years, according to the 2010-11 preseason coaches' poll. The Anchormen were ranked either first or second in each of the eight head coaches' ballots, securing the top ranking with six first-place selections and 62 total points. Western Connecticut State University received the remaining two first-place votes and 53 total points to earn the second seed.

Under the direction of Bob Walsh, Rhode Island College advanced to the sectional semifinals of the 2010 NCAA Division III Championship for the second time in program history. The Anchormen booked their fourth-straight trip to the national tournament with an overall record of 22-8, marking the fourth consecutive season with at least 20 victories. Rhode Island College wore the Little East crown for the third time in program history in 2010, defeating the Colonials 81-80 in the finals.

The Anchormen led the conference in team rebounding (32.9), while ranking second in field goal percentage defense (.427), scoring defense (70.0 ppg), and scoring margin (+6.3). Rhode Island College returns five of its top seven scorers from a season ago. Junior forward Mason Choice (Newport, R.I.) is the squads' top returning offensive threat after averaging 13.2 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game. A starter in 27 of his 28 games, the 2010 All-Little East, first-team selection reached double figures in the scoring column 23 times, including a season-high 24 at Keene State College. The Anchormen open the 2010-11 schedule this evening at 7 p.m., when Rhode Island College hosts Becker College.

Western Connecticut is making the program's highest preseason ranking since the 2004 edition, when the Colonials were the favorite. Head Coach Bob Campbell and his charges will look to ride the momentum it generated with a strong finish to the 2010 campaign. Western Connecticut won nine of its last 12 games to post an overall record of 19-7. The Colonials advanced to the championship game of the 2010 Little East Championship before being edged by the Anchormen.

Western Connecticut welcomes back seven letter winners from the most efficient offense in the conference circuit last winter. The Colonials sat atop the Little East team standings in assists per game 17.4), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1), field goal percentage (.477), and scoring margin (+6.8), while ranking third in scoring offense (81.8 ppg). Junior point guard DaQuan Brooks (Atlanta, Ga.) was a prolific scorer in 2010, reaching double digits in scoring in 23 of his 25 contests. The Little East Player of the Year netted at least 20 points 12 times, including scoring a season-high 40 points against Keene State. In addition to earning the conference's top offensive award, Brooks was also honored on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III All-Northeast first-team as well as on the All-Region second-team. Western Connecticut will host Cobleskill this evening at 7 p.m. in its season-opener.

Completing the annual preseason coaches' survey in projected order of finish are Eastern Connecticut State University (44), University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (41), Keene State College (40), University of Southern Maine (21), University of Massachusetts Boston (14), and Plymouth State University (13).

The Little East Conference is celebrating its 25th anniversary during the 2010-11 academic year. The conference began sponsoring men's and women's basketball in 1986 as a six-member conference. The Little East has growth to its current eight-institution membership and the sponsorship of 19 intercollegiate athletics sports.

2010-11 Little East Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Rank Institution First Place Total Points
1 Rhode Island College 6 62
2 Western Connecticut State University 2 53
3 Eastern Connecticut State University   44
4 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth   41
5 Keene State College   40
6 University of Southern Maine   21
7 University of Massachusetts Boston   14
8 Plymouth State University   13