Nichols Named CCC Men's Basketball Preseason Favorite

Nichols Named CCC Men's Basketball Preseason Favorite

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Two-time defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Nichols was picked to reign supreme again as the Bison were selected to finish first in the 2018-19 CCC Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Poll.

The Bison earned 77 points and six of a possible nine first place votes cast by the league’s men’s basketball head coaches.

Nichols finished last year with a 16-2 conference (25-4 overall) record and won the CCC Regular-Season Championship. They then cruised through the CCC Tournament knocking off No. 8 seed Western New England, No. 4 seed Roger Williams, and No. 3 seed Endicott on the way to claiming their second straight CCC Tournament title. They played Plattsburgh State in the NCAA First Round and fell, 103-86.

Endicott, which has made four straight CCC Championship game appearances, was picked second in this year’s poll with 72 points and the three remaining first place votes. The Gulls were followed by last year’s other CCC Semifinalists, Gordon and Roger Williams. The Fighting Scots were ranked third in the polling with 66 points, while the Hawks landed in fourth with 49 points. Western New England rounded out the top five with 45 points.

The University of New England (35 points), Wentworth (28), Salve Regina (23), and Curry (10) closed out the voting in that order.

The men’s basketball season tips off on Thursday, Nov. 8 with two teams in action. The league schedule starts up on Wednesday, Nov. 28 with four CCC matchups. With only nine teams competing, the CCC Tournament takes on a new look with only seven teams qualifying this year. The top seed will receive a bye, while the six other teams play quarterfinal round matchups on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The semifinal round will take place on Thursday, Feb. 21, followed by the CCC Tournament Championship game on Saturday, Feb. 23. The winner of that game will be named the CCC Tournament Champion and will earn the conference’s automatic qualifier in to the 2019 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship.

Click HERE to view the whole 2018-19 CCC men’s basketball schedule.

 

2018-19 CCC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll

  Team Points (First Place Votes)
1. Nichols 77 (6)
2. Endicott 72 (3)
3. Gordon 66
4. Roger Williams 49
5. Western New England 45
6. University of New England 35
7. Wentworth 28
8. Salve Regina 23
9. Curry 10

 

2018-19 CCC Men's Basketball Previews

Contributed by each school's sports information department.

1. Nichols

The Bison return three starters from last season's CCC Championship squad, led by senior and All-America candidate Marcos Echevarria (Lynn, Mass.). A two-time CCC Player of the Year, Echevarria enters the season No. 4 all-time in scoring at Nichols after averaging 22 points last season to help the Bison advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season. The Lynn, Mass. native was also a CoSIDA Division III Academic All-District 1 First Team pick as well as a Jostens Trophy Finalist. Joining Echevarria are juniors DeAnte Bruton (New London, Conn.) and Jerome Cunningham (Westbury, N.Y.), who were named to the CCC First and Third Teams, respectively, last season. Bruton battled through injury to average 18.7 ppg and became the 29th student-athlete in program history to reach the 1000-point mark for his career. Cunningham, meanwhile, nearly averaged a double-double with 9.1 ppg and 10.7 rpg – good for third in the conference.


Jerome Cunningham, NC

2. Endicott

The Endicott men's basketball team looks to return to championship glory following back-to-back losses in the CCC title game to rival Nichols over the last two seasons.

Endicott returns several key members to the fold in 2018-19 including one of the top scorers in all of NCAA Division III basketball, Keith Brown (Pelham, N.H.). The Gulls also bring back impact student-athletes Nick Thibeault (Gorham, Maine), Joe Shehadi (Dorset, Vt.), Vinny Clifford (Danvers, Mass.), Jordan Pettway (Bridgeport, Conn.), Matt McDevitt (Cumberland, Maine), Griffin Curtis (Salem, N.H.), and Mathew Catizone (Woburn, Mass.) to the lineup, all of whom will aid Endicott in its quest capture a CCC Championship.

The Gulls will open their 2018-19 season at home against Eastern Nazarene on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.


Keith Brown, EC

3. Gordon

With its three top scorers from last season returning for this year’s campaign – Eric Demers (Acushnet, Mass.), Garrisson Duvivier (Brockton, Mass.), and Jake Haar (Huntington Beach, Calif.) – Gordon men’s basketball will likely once again vie for a top spot in the CCC seedings, having made an appearance in the semifinals last year and wrapping at 18-9 overall (13-5 CCC).

Demers comes off an impressive sophomore season in which he averaged 23.4 ppg, dished out 71 assists, and recorded 39 steals to earn a spot on the All-CCC First Team. Duvivier had an equally impressive year, tallying 60 blocks, 13.1 rbg, and 17.1 ppg en route to his own First Team nod. An ace from range, Haar shot .480 from behind-the-arc while also registering 49 assists.

The Scots open the 2018-2019 campaign on the road at Emerson on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. Their first home contest is just a week later as they take on North Shore foe Salem State on Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m.


Garrisson Duvivier, GC


4. Roger Williams

The Roger Williams men’s basketball team had a strong 2017-18 season under head coach Mike Tully. The Hawks finished the year with an 18-9 record, tying for the second-most single-season wins under Coach Tully. The team began the year winning the Courtyard By Marriott Tip-Off Tournament and eventually clinched the No. 4 seed in the CCC Tournament. RWU advanced to the CCC Semifinals, but were downed by eventual champion Nichols. 

The Hawks lost three seniors from last year’s squad to graduation, including All-CCC selections Conor O’Brien and Nick Marini. To make up for their loss, RWU will bring in four newcomers to this year’s team, while bringing back ten players from last season including two starters. Looking to lead the way for RWU is senior Austin Coene (Tyngsborough, Mass.), who was named to the All-CCC First Team and the d3hoops.com Northeast Region Third Team last season, as well as becoming the first CoSIDA Academic All-American in program history.

Austin CoeneRWU

5. Western New England

Western New England is coming off a solid 2017-18 campaign in which the Golden Bears improved their win total by five from the previous season and picked up impressive CCC victories over Nichols and Gordon.

Head coach Colin Tabb, who begins his fourth season as head coach of the men’s basketball program, brings back four of his top five leading scorers from last year. Headlining that group are senior guard Mikey Pettway (Bridgeport, Conn.) and sophomore forward Zachary Tavitian (Milford, Conn.). Pettway is a two-time All-CCC honoree who surpassed the 1000-point mark last season and is closing in on the program’s all-time assist record. Tavitian, who started all 26 games as a freshman, gained additional experience over the summer playing for the Armenian National Team at the FIBA U20 European Championships in Bulgaria.

Juniors Tim Reilly (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) and Mike McGuire (Garden City, N.Y.) and sophomore Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn.) will also play key roles for the Golden Bears this season.

Western New England begins the 2018-19 campaign at home against nationally ranked Springfield on Thursday, Nov. 8. The Golden Bears will also face a pair of Division I opponents in Sacred Heart (Nov. 12) and Hartford (Nov. 20) before CCC play gets underway on Wednesday, Nov. 28 against Roger Williams.


Mikey Pettway, WNE

6. University of New England

The University of New England and seventh-year head coach Ed Silva return 13 players from the 2017-18 roster, including All-CCC Third Team honoree in senior Daron Hoges, Jr. (West Orange, N.J.). The Nor'easters introduced a high-octane attack last season that produced the league's top scoring offense at 97.4 points per CCC game, largely generated from 267 made 3-pointers over the 18-game slate. UNE's 10-8 conference mark was the best in nine years and featured regular-season wins over each of the top three squads in the standings, all resulting in the fifth seed for the postseason tournament.


Daron Hoges, Jr., UNE

7. Wentworth

Returning six letter winners – including one starter – from last season’s team which made the CCC Tournament for the 13th straight year, the Wentworth Institute of Technology men’s basketball team looks to be in the mix for yet another trip to the CCC postseason. Leading the way for the Leopards is junior Stephen Azums (Hyde Park, Mass.), who earned Second Team All-CCC honors a season ago. Azums averaged a double-double as a sophomore with 14.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest while shooting 62.2 percent from the floor. Classmates Ellis Christmas (Elmsford, N.Y.) and Matt Vartanian (Salem, N.H.) also return for the Black & Gold while Zach Bergeon (Litchfield, N.H.) is the lone senior on this year’s team.


Stephen Azums, WIT

8. Salve Regina

Eight newcomers means half of Sean Foster's squad will be making their debut as Seahawks in 2018-19. Jonathan Friberg (North Attleboro, Mass.) arrives as a 6-foot-7-inch sophomore transfer from Mount Ida, while seven others come in as true freshmen. Sophomores with experience include Thor Brochu (North Kingstown, R.I.), Cameron Collins (Oakdale, Conn.), Kevin Kelly (Valhalla, N.Y.), and J-T Mullins (East Lyme, Conn.). Collins and Kelly had turns as CCC Rookie of the Week last season. Andrew Bronstein (Needham, Mass.) returns for his third season as point guard while seniors Tyler Benjamin (Fitchburg, Mass.) and Kevin Mannix (Barrngton, R.I.) have the most experience to share. “Our staff and players have been working extremely hard to prepare for the upcoming season. We are young but have made roster improvements with a deep and talented recruiting class. We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish as we gain experience.”

 
Kevin Mannix, SRU

9. Curry

Curry returns six players from last season to the 2018-19 roster, highlighted by junior guard/forward Jared Thorpe-Johnson (Dorchester, Mass.), who averaged a team-leading 13.7 points last season. Also headlining the returners are juniors Kieran Carroll (Greenwich, Mass.) and Spencer Feng (Keene, N.H.). Carroll averaged eight points and 4.4 rebounds per game, while Feng posted 3.8 points per game and 1.7 rebounds per game last season as the team enters its first season under head coach Joe Busacca. Also returning for the Colonels is Justin Kelley (Medford, Mass.), Dwayne Boothe (Jamaica, N.Y.), and RJ Hadfield (Warwick, R.I.). Curry is excited to see how its incoming freshman, upperclassmen newcomers and returners, as well as a couple transfer students will work together this season.


Jared Thorpe-Johnson, CC

 

ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE

The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of nine full member and one associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.

 

Stay up to date with all the latest news from the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)!
'Follow' us on
 Twitter and Instagram, and 'Like' us on Facebook!

 

-#CCCSports-