SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Two-time defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Nichols College 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.
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."
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.