GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The SUNY Polytechnic Institute Wildcats will enter the 2016-17 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) men’s basketball season as the favorites after topping the coaches’ preseason poll rankings.
The Wildcats tallied five first-place votes en route to topping the poll with 157 points overall. SUNY Poly will see the return of eight players and four starters from last year’s team that made an appearance in the Final Four of the NEAC Tournament while going 12-5 in NEAC play. Leading the way will be senior forward Quayshaun Mitchell (Harlem, N.Y.), a NEAC All-Conference First Team selection after averaging 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while hitting 41 percent of his 3-point attempts last season. Sophomore guard Peyton Griffiths (Milford, N.Y.) also returns after being an All-Conference Third Team selection last year, as he averaged 11.3 points per game while appearing in all 27 Wildcat contests.
Junior Tyler Taverne (Westmoreland, N.Y.) also returns after manning the center position last season, while being joined by senior Terrynce Wilson (Bronx, N.Y.), who averaged 10.6 points per game, and sophomore Malik Johnson (Highland Fall, N.Y.). Wildcat head coach Robert Schoener, entering his second season at the helm, will test his squad with nonconference bouts against RIT, St. John Fisher College and Hamilton College.
Gallaudet University placed second with 152 points after garnering four first-place votes. The Bison have six returners from last year’s playoff team, led by the senior duo of center Joshua McGriff (Somerset, N.J.) and guard Raymond Nelson (Riverside, Calif.). McGriff was a NEAC All-Conference First Team honoree last season, averaging 14.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and a conference-best 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 63 percent from the field. Nelson was named to the All-Conference Third Team with averages of 13.6 points and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 54 percent from the field. Another duo of upperclassmen return for the Bison in senior Shawn Harrington (Frederick, Md.) and junior Andy Cruz (Bronx, N.Y.).
Morrisville State College received two first-place votes while coming in third overall with 140 points. The Mustangs will return seven players from last year’s squad that captured the NEAC North Division regular season title before making a run to the NEAC Tournament championship game. Junior Trent Ward (Auburn, N.Y.) returns following a selection to the NEAC All-Conference Second Team, finishing the year averaging 15.1 points and 1.7 steals per game while hitting nearly 87 percent of his free throw attempts. Senior forward Jordan Hoose (Hudson, N.Y.) also brings back his strong shooting (.538 FG/.721 FT/.417 3FG) for the Mustangs.
Wells College garnered a first-place nod and placed fourth with 137 points. Nine players that helped the Express clinch a playoff spot last season will return this year. That includes sophomore Rich Ross (Bronx, N.Y.), who was named the NEAC Rookie of the Year and earned a spot on the All-NEAC Second Team following an excellent debut season that saw him rank second in the conference in scoring at 19.4 points per game. He will team with the senior trio of Vaughndell Brantley (Syracuse, N.Y.), James Feocco (Auburn, N.Y.) and Chris Courtney (Auburn, N.Y.), with all three just about averaging double figures in scoring last season.
Lancaster Bible College claimed fifth place with 135 points while receiving two first-place votes. The Chargers are coming off a historic year, being nationally ranked much of the season while going a perfect 25-0 in the regular season en route to their third straight NEAC South Division title and first NEAC Championship. That helped garner NEAC Coach of the Year honors for Zach Filzen, who enters his second season at the helm. He will look to returning junior guards Herbie Brown (Wilmington, Del.) and Bill Livezey (Sherman, Maine) to guide his young team this year.
Penn State Berks placed sixth with 90 points. First-year Nittany Lion head coach Timothy Redding will inherit seven returning players from last season’s playoff team. Bryn Athyn College, which edged out Keuka College for seventh on a tiebreaker after both secured 89 points, will see its first-ever senior class be amongst its 10 returning players. The full men’s basketball preseason poll rankings can be found below:
|Rank||Institution (First-Place Votes)||Total Points|
|1||SUNY Polytechnic Institute (5)
|2||Gallaudet University (4)
|3||Morrisville State College (2)||140|
|4||Wells College (1)
|5||Lancaster Bible College (2)
|6||Penn State Berks||90|
|7||Bryn Athyn College*||89|
|9||Penn State Abington
|14||College of Saint Elizabeth||15|
*Tie broken by higher ordinal number points
The 2016-17 NEAC men’s basketball season will begin this Tuesday, November 15, with a full season schedule being available on the NEAC website here. Be sure to follow all the action throughout the season using the free NEAC mobile app, Front Row, which can be downloaded here.
The preseason poll rankings were conducted by the NEAC men’s basketball coaches, with each coach ranking out all teams but their own using a staggered points system (13 points for a first-place vote, 12 points for second, etc.). No self-voting was allowed. This is the second year the NEAC has held preseason polls and they will now become a staple of all 18 conference-sponsored sports moving forward.
The North Eastern Athletic Conference has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University - Abington, Pennsylvania State University - Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Penn State Altoona (M Volleyball) and Rutgers University - Camden (M Golf). The North Eastern Athletic Conference has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s and women’s tennis.