COACH: Tim Gilbride (26th year, 350-262)

LAST YEAR: 13-12, 4-5 NESCAC

STRENGTHS: With 6-7 forward Will Hanley (13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds) and 6-4 guard Ryan O’Connell (11.0, 54 3-pointers), the Polar Bears have two key players to build around.

QUESTION: Besides replacing 6-8, 260-pound Mark Phillips and his team-high 15.1-point average, how well will the offense run without graduated point guard Mike Hauser and his 142 assists?

OUTLOOK: Williams and Middlebury are favored in the NESCAC, but if the Polar Bears can improve on close games (three one-point losses last year and two others in overtime), they could reach the league’s Final Four.



COACH: Rob Sanicola (eighth year, 119-72)

LAST YEAR: 19-7, 14-4 GNAC

STRENGTHS: The top three scorers return: 6-4 forward Zach O’Brien (14.5 ppg), 6-3 guard Tyler Kelley (14.3, 51 3s), and 6-0 guard Chris Petzy.

QUESTION: Will the young players step up, filling the holes left by playmaking forward Ray Eatman (10-point average and 94 assists), Albert Rue (9.1) and Rashon Jones?

OUTLOOK: Sanicola continually builds depth, which will keep the Monks a contender in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. Sophomore point guard Julio Vazquez looks ready to lead.



COACH: Jason Mulligan (fourth year, 50-31)

LAST YEAR: 11-14, 7-6 TCCC

STRENGTHS: Junior 5-11 guard Marcus Winn (9.2-point average) is back with his outside shooting (55 of 167 in 3-pointers).

QUESTION: The Nor’easters lost 10 of their top 11 players for a variety of reasons. “A perfect storm,” Mulligan said. Can UNE recover?

OUTLOOK: UNE will forgo its run-and-gun ways and go back to a more traditional offense, with Travis Guerrette of Raymond at point guard. It will be a challenging season for the Nor’easters.



COACH: Karl Henrikson (eighth year, 55-127)

LAST YEAR: 2-23, 0-14 Little East

STRENGTHS: Exciting guard Cortez Isaac (25.9-point average) is back after missing the second half of last season. And two starters return after missing last season with injuries: Sean Bergeron (10.5 ppg) and Mike Poulin (59 assists).

QUESTION: With seven wins over the past two seasons, how will USM turn it around?

OUTLOOK: The Huskies should be better but may need time to jell. Isaac is the key scorer, but the role players need to step up.


– Kevin Thomas