Men's Basketball Favored to Win NAC Championship

Men's Basketball Favored to Win NAC Championship

WATERVILLE, Maine - Husson University takes a decisive spot on top of the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) preseason coaches' poll. The Eagles garnered all eight first-place votes for a total of 64 points.

UMaine-Farmington collected 54 points for second place, followed by newcomer SUNY Canton with 46 points in third place. Thomas College (34) and UMaine-Presque Isle (33) are neck-and-neck in the fourth and fifth spots, with Northern Vermont University-Johnson (25) chasing in sixth place.

Maine Maritime Academy (18) and Northern Vermont University-Lyndon (14) complete the preseason poll conducted by the leagues' head coaches.

Husson, UMaine-Farmington, and Thomas played in the 2017-18 NAC tournament. No. 1 New England College earned home-court advantage for the final four and prevailed over No. 3 Colby-Sawyer in the Championship game.

The 2018-19 tournament field will have a new look this year with the departure of Castleton, Green Mountain, Colby-Sawyer and New England College; and the entry of SUNY Canton and UMaine-Presque Isle into the league. Six teams will qualify for the NAC tournament in 2019 and the champion will earn an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA DIII Men's Basketball Championship.

 

2018-19 Men's Basketball Preview

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1. Husson - 64 (8 first place votes)

Husson (19-7, 15-3 NAC) veteran head coach Warren Caruso enters his 25th season at the helm for the Eagles. Husson has an impressive mix of returners and newcomers this season looking to come together and continue their successful streak in the NAC Championship Tournament. Husson welcomes back 2017 NAC Defensive Player of the Year senior forward Justin Martin (Winslow, Maine), senior guard Kyanti Blyden (Miramar, Fla.), junior center Bruce St. Peter (Ellsworth, Maine), sophomore forward Cole Thomas (Orlando, Fla.), sophomore guard Justin Thompson (East Millinocket, Maine), and 2018 NAC Second Team selection sophomore guard DJ Bussey (Peoria, Ariz.). Incoming freshmen to look out for include guard Justice Kendall (Baltimore, Md.), guard Victor Wilson (Birmingham, Ala.), center Trey Sibert (Tampa, Fla.), forward Brett Cunningham (Harrah, Okla.), and guard Isiah Hart (Seattle, Wash.). In non-conference action, the Eagles are set to take on Trinity (Conn.), Lasell, Bates, Saint Joseph's (Maine), WPI, Colby, Bowdoin and will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. at the end of December to take on North Central (Ill.) and Ramapo in the 2018 D3hoops.com Classic to prepare for a tough conference schedule.

 
   

2. UMaine-Farmington - 54

Veteran head coach Dick Meader guides the UMaine-Farmington (14-13, 11-7 NAC) men's basketball program once again. Leading point scorer forward Riley Robinson (Dixfield, Maine) returns for his junior season alongside classmates Issac Witham (Smithfield, Maine) and Bill Ruby (Gorham, Maine). Milani Hicks (Scarborough, Maine) returns for his senior year after leading the team in rebounds in 2017-18. The Beavers anticipate returning to the playoffs for the third straight year and aim to claim the Championship title for the first time since 2010.

 
   

3. SUNY Canton - 46

The Roos (7-18) enter the NAC for the first time this year and return six of their top eight scorers from a season ago under third-year Head Coach Ben Thompson. Sophomore Danny Santana (Clifton, NJ) and senior Jordan Stewart (Brooklyn, NY) both averaged double figures in scoring at 10.8 and 10.6 points per game, respectively. Sophomore Andrew Fitch (Melbourne, Australia) posted 7.7 points and 7.8 rebounds to go with an NCAA era program record 72 blocks last season. Sophomore Joseph Werner (Valatie, NY) was voted captain by his teammates following a freshman year where he averaged 6.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per outing. Junior Ibu Smith (Brooklyn, NY) also returns to the fold after averaging more than 7 points per game last year. SUNY Canton features seven newcomers, all of whom are expected to contribute for the Roos.

 
   

4. Thomas - 34

Thomas (14-12, 11-7 NAC) enters the season under first-year head coach Joe Scheuers. The Terriers return many contributors from last year's team, including starting guards Zach MacKinnon (Kennebunk, Maine) and Justin Butler (Orlando, Fla.), and expect big jumps from sophomore guards Angel Gonzalez (Orlando, Fla.) and Demetris Webster (Port St. Lucie, Fla.). Thomas also welcomes a group of hungry newcomers who will challenge for minutes. The Terriers plan to use their speed and quickness on both ends of the court this season and peak come conference tournament time.

 
   

5. UMaine-Presque Isle - 33

The 2017-2018 season was a record-breaking season for the Owls (13-14) under first year head coach Dan Kane. The Owls broke their program record for NCAA wins in a season and advanced to the inaugural American Collegiate Athletic Association championship game. UMPI graduated a strong senior class but enter their first season in the NAC with two returning starters in sophomore guard DeAndre Duncombe (Port St. Lucie, FL) and junior forward Will Griffiths (Queens, NY). Duncombe averaged 13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game and earned ACAA Rookie of the Year and All-State Rookie honors. Griffiths led the team in field goal percentage at 51.3 percent while averaging 7.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in his first year playing collegiate basketball.

 
   

6. Northern Vermont-Johnson - 25

The Northern Vermont University-Johnson men's basketball team has a new look for the 2018-2019 season. The Badgers (7-18, 4-14 NAC) have 11 new faces on the roster and seven returning players. Co-captains junior Donell Shaw (Washington, D.C.) and graduate student Vernon Slater (Washington, D.C.) lead a team with strong commitment and consistent work ethic and hope to translate that passion into wins on the court. Eleven new players are expected to make an immediate impact for the Badgers.

 
   

7. Maine Maritime Academy - 18

Dan McNeely enters his second season at the helm for the Mariners. Maine Maritime (5-20, 4-14 NAC) returns three of their top four scorers from last season, including the team's leading scorer, senior center Adam Richardson (Bradley, Maine). Richardson averaged 13.4 points per game, and led the NAC with a 60.1 field goal percentage. The Mariners have a competitive non-conference schedule to prepare them for conference play. The team welcomes a talented group of freshmen who are poised to make an immediate impact.

 
   

8. Northern Vermont-Lyndon -14

The Hornets (2-22, 2-16 NAC) hope to be much improved this season. Northern Vermont-Lyndon will be guided by veteran head coach Dave Pasiak, who enters his second season with the Hornets and his 20th overall as a college head coach. Sophomore guard Ricky Shuford (Prattville, Ala.) and senior Corey Frost (Hamden, Conn.) lead the returners with 16.9 points/5.2 rebounds per game, and 8.2 points per game, respectively. Promising newcomers include junior transfer Damon Denteh (Jamaica, N.Y.), and freshmen Zach Falkenburg (Kirkville, N.Y.) and Luke Fredsell (Whitesboro, N.Y.). The Hornets anticipate ascending in the standings and foiling the conference this season.