BOSTON – Returning all of its starters from a year ago, the Suffolk men's basketball team has been predicted to finish fourth in the GNAC Preseason Coaches' Poll in a vote by the league's 12 head coaches, the league office announced Thursday afternoon.
The Ram's fourth-place forecast is the highest in the Jeff Juron era and since the Rams shared fourth place with Lasell in the 2014-15 poll.
Johnson & Wales is projected to repeat as conference championships as the Wildcats garnered eight first-place votes for 139 points with Albertus Magnus' falling in a close second with 135 points behind four first-place nods. In its first season, under the leadership of men's basketball legendary head coach Jim Calhoun, Saint Joseph (Conn.) was picked to finish ahead of Suffolk in third with 113 points. The Rams' 104 points placed ahead of Saint Joseph's (Maine), who completes the fop five with 100 points.
Juron welcomes back his core contingent from a team that posted the most victories (15) since 2001-02 and advanced to the conference semifinals for just the fourth-time in program history. Led by a trio of all-league honorees, the Rams put together the most conference wins (9-7) since 2005-06 (9-9) to seal their sixth straight appearance in the league's postseason and highest seed at sixth since 2013.
Thomas Duffy, a second-team and all-tournament team selection a year ago, looks to build off a standout sophomore season where he paced Suffolk's scoring with 16.98 ppg to go with 3.7 apg to lead the Rams offensive unit, while adding 4.7 rpg to the defense.
Looking to compliment Duffy is Michael Hagopian who will lace up his sneakers for the final time in his career this year. The senior, who has been a consistent contributor since his freshman campaign, looks to seal his spot in Suffolk's history as not only the next 1,000-point scorer, entering the season 70 points shy, but to also lead the Rams to GNAC glory.
The reining GNAC Rookie of the Year Brendan Mulson completes the troika of the Rams' returning all-league honorees and looks to improve on his all-around contributions of 11.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.4 apg and 1.1 spg from last season.
Eight other experienced players are back in blue-and-gold with seven true freshmen and one talented transfer added to the bunch for 2018-19 to help Suffolk return to the conference championship for the first time since 2002.
The Rams will tip off their 72nd season in front of their home crowd Saturday, Nov. 10 when Suffolk entertains Salve Regina inside Regan Gymnasium at 3 p.m.
|2018-19 GNAC MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON COACHES' POLL|
1. Johnson & Wales
2. Albertus Magnus
3. St. Joseph (Conn.)
5. St. Joseph's (Maine)
7. Colby Sawyer
10. Anna Maria
|2017-18 GNAC RECORD