MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The Southern Vermont College men's basketball team is just days away from beginning its 2018-19 regular season and an attempt to defend its New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) championship.
The league released the results of its preseason poll on Thursday with the Mountaineers being tied with New England College—a newcomer to the Conference—at the top of the ranking. Southern Vermont received four of the first-place votes while NEC grabbed two of them.
SVC's first game of the year is Sunday when the team hosts the College of St. Joseph for a 1 p.m. tip-off at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
Southern Vermont went 20-5 last year during the regular season with a 12-2 mark in league play to get the No. 1 seed in the Conference tournament. The Mountaineers then won both of their playoff games to claim their second NECC title. SVC fell to Wesleyan University in the first round of the NCAA regional—finishing with an overall record of 22-6.
The Mountaineers will be led by first-year head coach Brian J. Johnson in their run at repeating as champions.
"My expectation for this year is to continue the standard of success that has been set by previous coaches and players at Southern Vermont College," Johnson said. "We have to play for one another and play selfless SVC basketball. We understand what is expected from our program. We just have to execute our game plans, play harder than the other team, and see the fruits of our labor."
Johnson has eight players returning from the 2017-18 squad including six seniors, one junior, and a sophomore. Additionally, he welcomes in one freshman and a sophomore transfer.
"It helps tremendously to have upperclassmen who know what winning a conference championship feels like," Johnson said. "We have six seniors, and our focus is to take steps to push this program to the next level and send these seniors off the right way."
The Mountaineer head coach thinks that the boards will be one of the biggest obstacles for his team this year.
"We have to be committed to outrebounding other teams," Johnson noted. "All five players on the court have to be accountable to their teammates and rebounding collectively."
Southern Vermont begins its NECC schedule on Tuesday, December 4 with a 7 p.m. home tilt against Eastern Nazarene College. SVC will hold its Senior Day on Saturday, February 9 in conjunction with a 1 p.m. league game against Lesley University.
Mitchell College ranked third in the poll with one of the first-place votes. Not all institutions participated in the voting.
2018-19 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll*
T1. Southern Vermont College – 54 (4)
T1. New England College – 54 (2)
3. Mitchell College – 48 (1)
4. Becker College – 41
5. Dean College – 39
6. Eastern Nazarene College – 26
7. Newbury College – 25
8. Elms College – 15
9. Lesley University – 13
*Not all institutions participated in preseason poll
(Parentheses denote first-place votes)
– #LetsGoSVC –