MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) announced its preseason men's basketball poll, as voted by conference coaches, and with three appearances in the league final and one conference crown in the past three seasons, Morrisville State received nine first place votes and was named the favorite entering the 2018-19 season.
The Mustangs received a total 119 points to earn the top spot in this year's preseason ranking, and 10th season head coach Joseph Smith returns to the sidelines with high expectations from his squad, who throughout their careers in the Morrisville State uniform have gained valuable playing experience on several levels.
Morrisville State returns a total of eight to the roster in 2018, including three starters from a year ago, including two-time first team All-Conference selection Kevin Dennis (Bronx, N.Y.). Dennis led the Mustangs in scoring, averaging 16.0 points per game (a season total 449) and was a huge force on the boards as well, collecting on average 9.1 rebounds per game. The junior ranked second overall in the conference in offensive rebounds, total rebounds and rebounds per game, while finishing seventh overall in the NEAC in scoring.
Alongside Dennis, 6'7" forward Derek Beames (Otego, N.Y.) returns to the Mustang paint after collecting an average 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game on the year as a sophomore. Beames shot a team best .559 from the floor, including .345 from long range.
Morrisville State also returns senior Kyle Peck (Oneida, N.Y.) and junior Tyrin Miller (White Plains, N.Y.) to its backcourt. The duo combined for an average 20.0 points per game for the Mustangs a year ago, 7.5 rebounds and a total 88 assists.
Smith added a few transfers to the lineup this season who bring quality experience that will lend to a quick game in the backcourt for the Mustangs. Lamel Faison and Justin Mitchell were pointed to as some of the talent that are expected to make an immediate impact. Both enter with two years' experience at the junior college level.
"I expect our junior class to really step up with their leadership this year," Smith said. "We will try to be balanced in our approach this season and will take advantage of our depth at each and every position."
Morrisville State will get its first test of the 2018-19 season Saturday as they head up north to face SUNY Canton in a non-conference outing at 3 p.m.
The Mustangs will have four additional non-conference games before opening NEAC play in December, including a road battle at Brockport on the 13th. On Nov. 17th and 18th they will make an appearance at the Hamilton College Tip-Off Tournament, facing York (N.Y.) and Centenary (N.J.) in Clinton.
Nationally ranked Middlebury will come to the Mustang Valley for the first time in program history on the 27th to serve as a final prep for Morrisville State as they open conference play against cross town rival SUNY Poly on December 1st at the Wildcats home gymnasium in Marcy.
Morrisville State will wrap up the first semester action with three straight home games, a Route 20 Rival showdown with Cazenovia College on the 5th, followed by non-conference bouts with Utica and SUNY Delhi on the 8th and 15th, respectively.
They return to action on January 5th with a home game against SUNY Geneseo, before hitting the road for three straight as the resume NEAC play, the first a conference battle at Cobleskill on the 9th. They head south to St. Elizabeth on the 12th and face Abington on the 13th before returning home to meet Keuka College on the 16th.
After a road contest at Wells College on the 19th, the Mustangs return to their home court for four straight, bringing to town SUNY Poly on the 23rd, followed by Gallaudet on the 26th. Alfred State, a non-league opponent, will meet Morrisville State on their home court on the 27th, and Cobleskill will make the trip to the Valley on the 30th.
Morrisville State will hit the road for a rematch of last year's NEAC Championship game at Lancaster Bible College on February 2nd as they finish the regular season schedule with a total six contests in the month.
Wells College, Penn College and Penn St. Berks will all serve as home clashes on the 5th, 9th and 10th, respectively, before Morrisville State wraps up their slate with rival games at Cazenovia on the 13th and Keuka on the 16th.
SUNY Poly, Lancaster Bible, Penn St. Abington and Keuka College round out the second, third, fourth and fifth preseason picks.
"We are grateful to have been chosen as pre-season no. one," said Smith.
"Having the respect of our peers is an honor that we appreciate. We try to have high expectations every year and this year is no different."
"Our league is very competitive and we feel there are several teams that could win our conference. We will always look to challenge ourselves in the non-conference and be prepared for an ever improving NEAC," he said.
"Nonetheless our goal is to win the conference and return to the NCAA tournament."
For more information on Morrisville State men's basketball, visit the college's athletic web site at www.morrisvillestateathletics.com.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.