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Anchormen sit atop preseason coaches' poll

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—The Rhode Island College men’s basketball team has been predicted to repeat as Little East Conference champions following a vote by the conference’s eight head coaches. The Anchormen, who have been the preseason favorites the past three campaigns, earned five first-place votes and a second-place tally for 46 total points. Each head coach cast a vote, but could not rank their team.

Under the direction of Head Coach Bob Walsh, Rhode Island College has captured the Little East Conference regular season championship two of the past three seasons, while earning the program’s first Little East Conference Tournament Championship in 2007. The Anchormen earned the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program’s history, where they advanced to the NCAA Sectional Championship game. Last season, Walsh led his charges to a school-record 27-4 mark, including a program-best 12-2 record in the conference circuit. Rhode Island College returns two of its three top scorers from the 2007 squad, led by NCAA All-Sectional Tournament Team selection junior guard Bobby Bailey (Fall River, Mass.).

Keene State College, the 2007 Little East Conference Tournament finalist, enters the season second in the conference standings—a mere two points off the Anchormen’s pace. In 2007, Head Coach Rob Colbert led the Owls to their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the past four years, advancing to the NCAA Sectional Semifinals. Keene State College posted a 25-6 overall record, matching the program’s mark for single-season victories. Colbert welcomes back five letterman from last season, including preseason All-American junior forward Tyler Kathan (Ludlow, Vt.).

Western Connecticut State University (33) edged UMass Dartmouth (31) and Eastern Connecticut State University (28) for the No. 3 position. The Colonials and Corsairs shared third place last season with 8-6 conference marks, while the Warriors were 7-7. UMass Dartmouth penned the remaining first-place vote in its ledger.

The University of Southern Maine (17), University of Massachusetts Boston (15), and Plymouth State University (10) round out the preseason coaches’ rankings.

The Little East Conference opens the 2007-08 slate on Friday, Nov. 16, when six of the eight conference institutions are in action.

Rank Institution 1st Place Points

1

Rhode Island College

5

46

2

Keene State College

2

44

3

Western Connecticut  

33

4

UMass Dartmouth

1

31

5

Eastern Connecticut  

28

6

Southern Maine  

17

7

UMass Boston  

15

8

Plymouth State  

10