Beavers Predicted to Finish First in NAC Preseason Poll

Beavers Predicted to Finish First in NAC Preseason Poll

UMaine-Farmington edged Husson for the top spot in the 2019-20 North Atlantic Conference Men's Basketball preseason coaches poll. The Beavers collected four first-place votes and 58 points, while the Eagles collected three first-place votes and 56 points. Thomas College picked up the remaining first-place votes and totaled 48 points for third place in the poll.

1. UMAINE-FARMINGTON - 58 points (4 first-place votes)

Legendary head coach Dick Meader returns to the court to guide the UMaine-Farmington Men's Basketball team (16-10, 11-3 NAC). The Beavers are hungry to avenge an upset in the 2019 NAC Championship tournament, where they lost by one point in the semifinal round after earning the top seed. The Beavers return a slew of talented players, including key seniors forward Riley Robinson (Dixfield, Maine), forward Bill Ruby (Gorham, Maine), guard Isaac Witham (Smithfield, Maine), and guard Amir Moss (Portland, Maine). Several newcomers join the squad this season, including sophomore guard Terion Moss (Portland, Maine). The Beavers are on the hunt for another shot at the NAC Championship. 


SUNY Canton earned 36 points and sits in fourth place. Maine Maritime Academy and UMaine-Presque Isle each picked up 29 points and are tied in fifth place.

Northern Vermont-Lyndon (16 points) and Northern Vermont-Johnson (13 points) complete the poll in seventh and eighth place, respectively.

Head coaches vote in the preseason poll.

The 2018-19 NAC Men's Basketball Championship saw #4 Thomas upset #1 UMaine-Farmington in a nail-biter in the semifinal round. #2 Husson beat #3 SUNY Canton to advance to the championship, where they prevailed over Thomas and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Non-conference action opens tomorrow, with several NAC teams taking advantage of the recently extended season and competing in tip-off tournaments. Conference games begin in early December, with the bulk of NAC contests occurring in the second semester. Six teams will qualify for the 2020 men's basketball conference championship tournament to occur over two weekends. The top two seeds will receive a bye in the quarterfinal round on Saturday, February 22, 2020. The top-seeded team based on regular-season standings will then host the final four tournaments on February 28th and 29th, 2020. The North Atlantic Conference Champion will receive an automatic qualification bid to the 2020 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship tournament.


2. HUSSON -  56 points (2 first-place votes)

The Husson Eagles (17-11, 11-3 NAC) return six of their top eight players from last season's NAC Championship squad. Husson enters the 2019-20 year debuting some youthful size with the addition of first-years; 6'8" Jared Balser (Topsham, Maine), 6'7" Scott Lewis (South Portland, Maine), and 6'6" Luke Martin (Ponte Vedra, Fla.). Returning starters and double-figure scorers, Justice Kendall (Baltimore, Md.), DJ Bussey (Peoria, Ariz.), and Justin Thompson (East Millinocket, Maine) will see plenty of time on the hardwood under head coach Warren Caruso, who enters his 26th season. Last year's sixth man Brett Cunningham (Harrah, Okla.) and Husson's lone senior Bruce St. Peter (Ellsworth, Maine) will also help the Eagles on the hunt for the repeat title.


3. THOMAS -  48 points

Deshon Gaither enters his first season as the Thomas Head Coach after serving as an assistant coach last season. He returns a core of veterans from last season's NAC Runner-Up squad, including senior Zach Mackinnon (Kennebunk, Maine); juniors Justin Butler (Orlando, Fla.), Lovegeurson Fleurine (Fort Pierce, Fla.) and Demetris Webster (Port St. Lucie, Fla.); and sophomore Jordan Goodson (Orlando, Fla.). The Terriers (14-13, 9-5 NAC) also add transfer Jacob Godfrey (East Machias, Maine) from Division II East Stroudsburg University. Thomas will look to build off last year's success as they eye a return to the NAC Championship.


4. SUNY CANTON - 36 points

Head Coach Shiva Senthil enters his first season as head coach for SUNY Canton (14-13, 9-5 NAC) during the 2019-20 season. Despite losing three top scorers, the Roos return the next five leading scorers in junior forward Andrew Fitch (Melbourne, Australia), junior guard Danny Santana (Clifton, N.J.), junior forward Joseph Werner (Valatie, N.Y.), sophomore forward George Nehma (Sydney, Australia) and sophomore guard Quran DuBois (Niagara Falls, N.Y.). Fitch was named the NAC Defensive Player of the Year and Second Team All-Conference last season. As a sophomore, he led all of NCAA Division III with 98 total blocks and ranked second with 3.63 blocks per outing. The Roos also welcome six newcomers to the roster, including three key transfers and three first-year students.


T5. MAINE MARITIME -  29 points

Dan McNeely enters his third season at the helm for the Mariners after leading the team to one of their most successful seasons in program history last year. Maine Maritime (11-14, 7-7 NAC) returns three of their top four scorers from last season, including 2018-19 NAC Second Team All-Conference selection, Nicholas DePatsy (Waldoboro, Maine), who enters his senior season after leading the conference in overall three-point percentage (44.4), and three-pointers made (91 total, 51 against NAC opponents). The Mariners welcome a talented group of rookies who are poised to make an immediate impact.


T5. UMAINE-PRESQUE ISLE -  29 points

In the Owls first year in the NAC (2018-19), the team started 0-6 in conference games before winning five of their last eight NAC contests to advance to the quarterfinals. UMaine-Presque Isle (11-15, 5-9 NAC) head coach Dan Kane returns nine players, including First Team All-Conference guard Shyquinn Dix (Stamford, Conn.) and Rookie of the Year Griffin Guerrette (Presque Isle, Maine). Also returning is the 2017-2018 ACAA Rookie of the Year, junior DeAndre Duncombe (Port St. Lucie, Fla.), who missed most of last year with an injury, and senior captain Te'Von Hines (Woodbridge, Va.). UMPI also brought in a talented recruiting class of nine new players that helps bring depth to the Owls roster.


7. NVU-LYNDON - 16 points

The Hornets (4-21, 2-12 NAC) seek to build on the growth that their young roster showed a year ago to climb into NAC contention. NVU-Lyndon will again be led by veteran head coach Dave Pasiak, who enters his third season with the Hornets and his 21st as a college head coach. On the court, Lyndon returns sophomore Zach Falkenburg (Bridgeport, N.Y.), who was one of the top guards in the NAC last season. A pair of forwards, senior Jahleel Gabriel (Springfield, Mass.) and sophomore Kyle Cary (Selkirk, N.Y.) head up the Hornet frontcourt. Newcomers include Division II transfer Peyton Olsen (Middleburgh, N.Y.) and three first-years. The Hornets expect to continue their growth this season and battle for a NAC playoff berth.


8. NVU-JOHNSON - 13 points

Miles Smith enters his fifth year at the helm of the NVU-Johnson men's basketball program (3-12, 2-12 NAC). Smith brings in a class that will make an immediate impact in the league. A mix of both experienced transfers and eight newcomers make up the 2019-2020 roster. The team will be paced by junior guard Robert Dubose (Philadelphia, Pa.), who averaged 17.0 points per game last season; and Tyhee Taylor (Philadelphia, Pa.) will also provide veteran leadership.