BOSTON – Suffolk men's basketball opens the Jeff Juron era Saturday, welcoming UMass Boston to Regan Gymnasium for a 3 p.m. match.
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RUN DOWN ON THE RAMS
Suffolk raises the curtain on its 70th season and its first year in the Jeff Juron era with a well-crafted balance of veteran leadership and youthful enthusiasm, returning four starters and welcoming eight newcomers.
The Rams look to improve upon its 8-18 overall record and 5-13 ledger in GNAC action from a year ago and strive to capture their first winning season since 2001-02 (17-11).
LET'S GET IT STARTED
Suffolk is 22-24* in season openers since 1967-67. The Rams won five straight since 2009, but dropped the first game of last season 86-61 to Fitchburg State.
The Rams have been in the friendly confines of Regan for the season opener 20 times and will do so Saturday for the first time since 2010-11. Suffolk has opened their campaign on the road 14 times and has taken the court at a neutral site for the first game of the year on 12 occasions.
*Missing results from two seasons; 1995-96 and 1992-93.
BACK FOR MORE
The Rams return eight letterwinners from last year's squad, including two of their top three scores in senior Jake Meister (11.8 ppg), who connected on 46 of 150 attempts (30.7) behind the arc and junior Matt Duquette (11.7 ppg). Meister and Duquette joined forces for Suffolk's power on the glass, as the former grabbed a team-best 6.7 rpg, while the latter pulled down 6.3 boards per contest.
The Rams' back court also returns in senior Caleb Unni (8.0 ppg, 2.0 apg) and Adam Chick (6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg.) Suffolk's 2015-16 roster also features the familiar faces of seniors Nacho Ballve, Curtis Casella and Mohammed Sina Shafiezadeh and sophomore Quinn McCartney.
NEW FACES IN NEW PLACES
The Rams' lineup will get a boost from the addition of eight rookies this season. Suffolk's Class of 2019 includes guards Warfa Abdillahi, Jim Djema, Michael Hagopian and Mekhi Wright-Hopkins and forwards Steven DiPrizio and Kevin Querusio. Sophomore small forward Jean-Zachary Louissant and classmate guard Matt McLean will also wear blue-and-gold for the first time this season.
'BOUT THE BEACONS
- UMass Boston is coming off a 14-12 season. The Beacons, who went 6-8 in Little East Conference play, fell at UMass Dartmouth, 98-82, in the first round of the LEC tournament.
- The Beacons lost 73 percent of their scoring from a year ago making Michael Campbell the returning offensive threat for UMass with 8.8 ppg. The guard will also be called on for his senior leadership and experience.
- Similar to Suffolk, UMass Boston will be under new guidance this season as Jason Harris enters his first season as the Beacons' head coach.
Saturday marks the 26th meeting between the Rams and Beacons since the first matchup in 1990. UMass Boston holds a commanding 18-7 series leading, including victories in the last seven meetings. Suffolk looks to tally its first mark in the win column versus its city rival since 2007.
ON THE BENCH
Jeff Juron, an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Rochester who made three appearances in the NCAA Division III National Tournament and was a national runner-up as a player, comes to Boston for his first season at Suffolk in 2015-16 and his first as a collegiate head coach.
A trio of seniors have been elected to serve as the Rams' captains for the 2015-16 campaign as Nacho Ballve, Adam Chick and Caleb Unni assume the leadership responsibility.
After averaging 6.3 points per game as a sophomore, forward Jake Meister broke out a year ago, posting 11.8 points per game on a 35.2 shooting percentage. The Madison, New Jersey native started 26 games and added a team and personal-best 6.7 rebounds while chipping in 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals.
|2015 GNAC MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON COACHES' POLL|
1. Johnson & Wales
2. Albertus Magnus
3. Anna Maria
4. St. Joseph's (Maine)
8. Mount Ida
The 16 players comprising the Rams' 2015-16 roster hail from seven different states - California (1), Connecticut (1), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (9), New Jersey (1), Wisconsin (1) – and Spain (1).
During the off-season, Suffolk Athletics began construction on a brand new gymnasium floor look inside Regan Gymnasium thanks to the generosity of two Suffolk Athletics Hall of Famers Michael S. Smith and Larry E. Smith. Officially completed in August, Suffolk men's basketball will have its first crack on the new hardwood Saturday afternoon when it entertains UMass Boston.
The Rams head to Amherst Nov. 20-21 for the Ken Wright '52 Invitational. In the first round on Friday, Nov. 20, Suffolk meets Worcester State at 8 p.m. The winner will advance to the championship game and take on the victor of the Johnson State and Amherst College game Saturday, with the losing teams playing in the consolation contest.