UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND
COACH: Ed Silva (first year)
LAST YEAR: 6-19, 6-12 in CCC
STRENGTHS: Bronx, N.Y., product and captain Charles Fenner III (13.4 ppg) has shown ability to score in bunches, Silva brings credibility after 11 seasons at Elms College (206-111, six trips to NCAA tourney) and Nor’easters are playing in new 1,200-seat Harold Alfond Forum.
QUESTION: Will UNE meet Silva’s challenge to be better defenders and rebounders?
OUTLOOK: Picked to finish 9th in the 10-team CCC, a significant climb is unlikely. Look for transfer point guard Jake Abel (Elms College) and freshman Devin Thompson to increase offensive efficiency.
COACH: Tim Gilbride (28th year, 381-280)
LAST YEAR: 17-8, 5-5 in NESCAC
STRENGTHS: Sophomore guards Andrew Madlinger and Bryan Hurley will bring solid scoring and 3-point shooting and Polar Bears can be extremely big with 6-foot-10 senior center Maximilian Staiger and 7-foot sophomore John Swords.
QUESTION: Can Staiger and Swords, who played limited minutes a year ago, come close to replacing the inside presence of graduated Will Hanley (18.4 ppg, 11.4 rpg)?
OUTLOOK: In a competitive league, Bowdoin will have to work hard and gel quickly to approach last year’s record.
ST. JOSEPH’S COLLEGE
COACH: Rob Sanicola (10th year, 157-89)
LAST YEAR: 18-9, 13-5 in GNAC
STRENGTHS: Nicholas Jobin of Westbrook, a former SMAA Player of the Year, came on at end of season to provide 6-foot-6 presence on the boards. Matthew Medeiros is a hard-nosed scorer. Starting point guard Julio Vasquez returns as only senior.
QUESTION: Replacing top two scorers Zach O’Brien (17.3 ppg) and Chris Petzy was tough enough. Will death of Clark Noonan (April car accident) be too much to overcome for young team (7 first-years, five sophomores).
OUTLOOK: Monks are used to being a contender and are picked to finish second in the GNAC preseason poll behind stacked Albertus Magnus. Sanicola thinks young players like freshmen Jerome Diggs and Craig Luschenat and sophomores Zach Blodgett and Steve Simonds (Bonny Eagle) will help make it happen.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE
COACH: Karl Henrikson (10th year, 76-156)
LAST YEAR: 11-14, 3-11 in Little East
STRENGTHS: The Huskies welcome back Mike Poulin. Senior had a season-ending injury last year after starting at the point his first two seasons. Fellow guards senior Alex Kee of Bath, and juniors Conor Sullivan of Scarborough and Brandon Tomah are good scorers.
QUESTION: Will there be any inside presence? USM started 6-6 James Odneal with four guards in first two games.
OUTLOOK: Picked to finish last in the Little East, first winning record since 2007-08 is long shot.
SOUTHERN MAINE COMMUNITY CC
COACH: Matt Richards (10th year, 162-107)
LAST YEAR: 12-18, 4-12 in YSCC
STRENGTHS: Already 9-1, SMCC can score — a lot — but its greatest strength is ability to pressure full court and bring a wave of 12 nearly equal players at opponents. Point guard Jose Nouchanthavong of Westbrook is running offense that averages 88 points with only two double figure scorers — Manny Donaldson and Jon Amabile of Portland (Deering).
QUESTION: Does everyone stay happy sharing the ball and winning games?
OUTLOOK: At 5-0 in the conference, the Seawolves are a top contender. A berth in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs is possible.