New-look Panthers ready for 2017-18 season
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's basketball team was picked to finish sixth in the Little East Conference (LEC) after a vote of the league's eight head coaches.
Defending regular season and tournament champions Eastern Connecticut State collected seven first place votes to sit atop the poll with 56 points. Keene State earned the last first place vote to finish second with 49 points. UMass Dartmouth (42 points), UMass Boston (36 points) and Western Connecticut State (30 points) rounded out the top five, with the Panthers a close sixth place (28 points). Rhode Island College (23 points) and Southern Maine (16) took the last two spots.
Plymouth State ended last season with a 12-13 overall mark and a 6-8 LEC record. PSU earned the fourth seed for the LEC Tournament awarding the Panthers their first home playoff game since the 2008-09 season. PSU was denied of a trip to the semifinals, however, when UMass Boston squeaked by with a 61-57 win.
The 2017-18 edition of the Panthers will rely on a young returning core bolstered by a large group of newcomers to build on that success. Head coach Andrew Novick, who enters his seventh season at the helm, will sport a roster that features just two seniors, guard Collin Sullivan (Plymouth, N.H.) and forward Kieran Beck (Danvers, Mass.). Six new freshmen and a pair of transfers are expected to breathe new life into the team culture – something Novick is looking forward to.
"Having a bunch of young players has been great," he said. "It has helped us build our identity and bring us closer together. With only two seniors our focus has been less about whether you are a new or returning player and more about just being a team."
Junior Mike Osgood (Nashua, N.H.) and sophomore Jaylen Leroy (Manchester, N.H.) are expected to play even bigger roles this winter. Osgood was second on the team in both scoring and rebounding last year, averaging 11.3 points per game while pulling down 5.6 boards a night. Leroy averaged an even 11.0 ppg as a freshman, including 12.2 ppg in LEC contests. He finished 19th in the league in scoring last year, tops among all freshmen, and was fourth-best in the conference from long range, finishing with 47 made three-pointers while shooting 36.2% from beyond the arc.
The Panthers open the season on Wednesday (Nov. 15) with the annual Boys & Girls Club Classic game against Rivier, held at the New Hampshire Technical Institute. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. PSU opens its home schedule on Tuesday (Nov. 21) with a 7:30 p.m. contest against Castleton University.
2017-18 LEC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
(First Place Votes in Parentheses)
|1||Eastern Connecticut (7)||56|
|2||Keene State (1)||49|
|7||Rhode Island College||23|
– 30 –