NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. –The Rhode Island
College men’s basketball team has been chosen as the 2011-12
Little East men’s basketball regular-season favorite,
according to the annual preseason coaches’ poll that was
released by the conference office this afternoon. The Anchormen
received four of the eight first-place votes and 57 total points to
edge Keene State College for the top ranking.
The Owls penned three first-place votes and 54 total points in their ledger to earn the program’s highest preseason ranking since 2007-08. Western Connecticut State University received the remaining first-place tally to secure the third position with 47 points. Eastern Connecticut State University and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth finished fourth with 41 points.
Under the direction of Bob Walsh, Rhode Island College is making its second-straight and sixth overall appearance atop the annual survey. Last year, the Anchormen eclipsed the 20-win barrier for the sixth time in the past seven years with an overall record of 21-8. Rhode Island College earned its fifth consecutive berth in the NCAA Division III tournament field. Walsh led his charges to the Sectional Semifinals for the second year in a row after defeating Penn State Behrend and Oswego State. The Anchormen received the automatic qualifier into the national draw after raising the 2011 Little East Men’s Basketball Championship trophy for the second-straight season.
Walsh will welcome back nine student-athletes from the 2011 edition, including two starters. Rhode Island College will feature one of the strongest frontcourts in the league with the return of 2011 All-Little East, first-team selections Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, R.I.) and Mason Choice (Newport, R.I.). The senior tandem accounted for 35.2 percent of the Anchormen offense last season. Akinrola led the team in scoring (14.0 ppg), while Choice pulled in a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game. The Anchormen will open its schedule at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15, when Rhode Island College hosts Clark University (Mass.).
Keene State College is making the program’s fourth appearance as the second-ranked team in the 15th edition of the annual preseason poll. Under the guidance of Rob Colbert, the Owls registered their highest amount of single-season victories since 2007 with an overall record of 17-11. Keene State earned the fourth seed in the annual Little East tournament, and nearly upset top-seeded Rhode Island College in double overtime. The strength of the Owls’ resume earned Keene State a berth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England tournament.
Colbert will return an experienced group of 16 veterans from 2011, including the entire starting-five. Senior forward Derek D’Amours (Agawam, Mass.) has led the Owls in scoring the past two seasons, averaging 14.8 points per game as a junior. D’Amours reached double figures in scoring 14 times last winter, including a season-high 37 points against Brandeis University in the ECAC quarterfinals. Keene State will open its 2012 slate of games at the Jacob’s Bridge Through Autism Classic on Nov. 15. The Owls will face Colby-Sawyer College at 5:30 p.m.
The top-six teams in the final regular season standings will advance to the 2012 Little East tournament. The conference will sponsor two first-round contests on Tuesday, Feb. 21, while the two highest seeded squads earn a bye into the semifinals. The semifinal and championship rounds will be hosted at the No. 1 seed, beginning on Friday, Feb. 24. The two semifinal round winners will meet in the championship the following afternoon. The Little East champion will earn the automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Completing the annual preseason coaches’ survey in projected order of finish are University of Massachusetts Boston (20), University of Southern Maine (15) and Plymouth State University (13).
Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes. Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.
|2011-12 Little East Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll|
|Rank||Institution||First Place||Total Points|
|1||Rhode Island College||4||57|
|2||Keene State College||3||54|
|3||Western Connecticut State University||1||47|
|4||Eastern Connecticut State University||41|
|University of Massachusetts Dartmouth||41|
|6||University of Massachusetts Boston||20|
|7||University of Southern Maine||15|
|8||Plymouth State University||13|