CCC Pre-season Coaches' Poll: Men's Basketball No. 9

Rodney Morton returns for his fourth season and second as a team captain in men's basketball.
Rodney Morton returns for his fourth season and second as a team captain in men's basketball.

NEWPORT, R.I. - Salve Regina University men's basketball returns two of its top three scorers from last season in senior Rodney Morton (Malden, Mass.), 19.1 points per game, and junior Isaiah Bowman (Roxbury, Mass.), 10.8 points per game.

Defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) men's basketball tournament champion Nichols was selected to repeat this year as announced in the 2017 CCC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Bison received 99 points in the voting including nine first place votes.

Voting was conducted by the league's 10 head basketball coaches last week.

Nichols finally finished the job last year as it claimed the CCC Tournament Championship and NCAA automatic berth for the first time. The Bison had entered the CCC Tournament as the No. 1 seed in each of the prior three seasons, but kept on facing early exits in the tough tournament field.

The Bison claimed the No. 1 seed once again in the 2016-17 season. They would defeat No. 8 seed University of New England in the quarterfinals and No. 5 seed Wentworth in the semifinals. Nichols finally got over the hump in the CCC Tournament Championship game defeating Endicott, 67-64.

2017-18 CCC Men's Basketball Pre-season Coaches' Poll

  1. Nichols College 99 (9)
  2. Gordon College 82
  3. Roger Williams University 80
  4. Endicott College 70 (1)
  5. Wentworth Institute of Technology 64
  6. Western New England University 42
  7. Eastern Nazarene College 35
  8. University of New England 34
  9. Salve Regina University 33
  10. Curry College 11

Seahawk head coach Sean Foster '97 enters his 16th season with most wins (180) in school history and that includes a conference championship in 2011. Foster earned Coach of the Year honors in 2012 when he led the Seahawks to a first-place regular-season finish.

Andrew Bronstein (Needham, Mass.) returns to help bolster the backcourt experience with Bowman and Morton. Returners in the frontcourt include senior Ricky Pollock (Warwick, R.I.) and sophomores Gabe Granberry (Dorchester, Mass.) and Michael Peterson (New Hartford, N.Y.). Kevin Mannix (Barrington, R.I.) adds depth as a guard/forward. Newcomers but not first-year students include Tyler Benjamin (Fitchburg, Mass.), Michael McCourt (Lincoln, R.I.), and Junda Qian (Saitama, Japan).

"Our staff is excited to begin the 2017-18 season and continue the process of steady improvement within our program.  We will be led by four-year starter and returning leading scorer Rodney Morton who has improved every season. In addition we expect great contributions from our sophomore/junior classes. We will look for immediate production from our solid freshmen class of Cameron Collins (Oakdale, Conn.), Kevin Kelly (Valhalla, N.Y.), Stephen Natola (Exeter, N.H.), and JT Mullins (East Lyme, Conn.)." 
"This year's team should have great balance, and we have focused on a collective team-first attitude which has permeated our culture and will be our identity."

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Salve Regina University
Salve Regina athletics sponsors 20 NCAA Division III varsity sports for men and women. The Seahawks compete in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC - baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, field hockey, football, men's ice hockey, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, women's track and field, women's volleyball), New England Hockey Conference (NEHC - women's ice hockey), New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA - sailing). Beginning in 2017-18, Salve Regina will also sponsor equestrian as a varsity sport, and adds junior varsity programs for baseball and men's lacrosse.