Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Elms College men's basketball team has been picked to finish fifth in the 2016 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll, released by the league office Tuesday.
The Blazers gathered 51 total points, finished eight points shy of a tie at third between Daniel Webster College and Becker College. The Blazers are returning eight players from their 2015 squad, which posted a 14-13 overall record with a 12-4 mark in conference play. Seniors Symon Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Conny Ihearahu (Largo, Md.) return to their starting roles after collecting 2015 All-NECC Third Team honors last season. In his first season with the Blazers, Smith averaged 14.3 points per game, ranking tenth in the NECC, with 3.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds, while shooting 83.2% from the free throw line. Ihearahu contributed 11.8 points with a team-high 8.7 rebounds per game, and ranked fourth in the NECC rebounds per game and fifth in total rebounds with 218, eighth-most in a single season in program history.
Southern Vermont College collects 76 points including five first place nods to lead the way in the NECC 2016-17 Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Mountaineers were picked to repeat as NECC Champions. Southern Vermont graduated some vital starters so they will look to junior Daemond Carter and the other eight returners from the 2015-16 season to lead them this year.
Landing in second in the polls was Regis College with 63 points and two first place votes. The Pride return key starter Sam Jean-Gilles who was on the 2016 All-NECC First Team. Regis returns eight players from last years' roster and hope to get back to the NECC Championship as they did in 2015.
Daniel Webster College and Becker College both finished with 59 total points. The Eagles received two first place votes as they return 10 players and two of three starters from last season. The Hawks will rely on their three returning starters two of which earned 2016 All-NECC honors.
Mitchell College was sixth in the overall rankings with 37 points. The Mariners will have a young returning team led by the 2016 NECC Rookie of the Year Domenico Santiago.
Closing out the polls is Lesley University (24 points), Wheelock College (22 points), and Newbury College (14 points).
NECC teams will begin their seasons with nonconference match ups on Tuesday, November 15th. NECC play begins for most teams on Thursday, December 1st.
2016-17 NECC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
- Southern Vermont – 76 (5)
- Regis – 63 (2)
- Daniel Webster – 59 (2)
- Becker – 59
- Elms - 51
- Mitchell – 37
- Lesley – 24
- Wheelock – 22
- Newbury – 14
Source: (New England Collegiate Conference)