PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Little East Conference men's and women's basketball coaches have picked Plymouth State College's teams to finish in the middle of the pack in their respective races this season.
With the LEC schedule set to get underway Saturday with a handful of games around the conference, the coaches' poll was released this week. The Panther women's squad was picked fifth among the eight schools, while the men's team was predicted sixth. Plymouth State opens its conference slate Saturday in Willimantic, Conn., facing Eastern Connecticut State University in a doubleheader (women at 1 p.m., men at 3 p.m.).
The voting was done before PSC's teams combined to start the season 7-0. The women, 4-0 under second-year coach Lauren Lavigne, won the MIT Tournament with victories over Fitchburg State and Eastern Nazarene and captured the first two home games with triumphs over Notre Dame and Gordon Colleges.
The Panther men, 3-0 under first-year head coach John Scheinman, have put together successive home wins over Curry, Ithaca and Notre Dame Colleges. The Panthers will host Salem State in a tough regional doubleheader Thursday (Dec. 2) at Foley Gymnasium (women at 6 p.m., men at 8 p.m.).
Eastern Connecticut (38 points) edged UMass Dartmouth (36) for the top spot in the LEC men's poll, each receiving three first place votes. Keene State (35) also received a first place votes and was a close third. Western Connecticut (24), Southern Maine (22) and Plymouth State (21) were in the middle of the pack, with UMass Boston (13) and Rhode Island College (7) rounding out the poll.
The Panthers shared the LEC regular season title the past two seasons under former coaches Paul Hogan and Jim Ferry, but four starters, including a First Team All-America, are gone from last year's team, and Scheinman is rebuilding with a young and relatively inexperienced squad.
Defending champion and perennial power Southern Maine (49 points) received seven first place votes in the women's poll to easily take the top position, with Western Connecticut (41) getting the other top vote and finishing runner-up. Eastern Connecticut (36), Keene State (30), Plymouth State (27) and Rhode Island College (20) were predicted to battle for the third and fourth home-court spots in the first round of the play-offs, with UMass Dartmouth (13) and UMass Boston (8) finishing at the bottom.
The Panther women, who return six of the top seven scorers from last year's team, are off to the first 4-0 start since the 1993-94 squad went 4-0. That team's bid for the first 5-0 start in school history was stopped by Salem State.
-- 30 --