BABSON PARK, Mass.—Coming off a historic 2016-17 season the culminated in the program's first Division III national championship, expectations remain high for the Babson College men's basketball season as it gets ready to open the 2017-18 campaign.
THE CHAMPS ARE HERE
Under the direction of 23rd-year head coach Stephen Brennan, the Beavers return three starters and eight players in all after going 14-0 in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) and 31-2 overall last winter. The Green and White, which has won 20 or more games in four straight years, is one of just two Division III teams to advance to at least the Sweet 16 in three consecutive seasons.
Seniors Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.), Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, Md.) and Chris Lowry (Union, Conn.) all played major roles for last season's squad and will be counted on as consistent performers this winter. Comenale averaged career highs of 16.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists while knocking down a school-record 110 three-pointers last season on his way to earning all-conference and all-region honors. Jacks, who received All-NEWMAC first-team recognition, put up 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in his second season as a starter, while Lowry stepped in to start 12 of the final 14 contests and averaged 4.8 points and 4.2 assists during the Beavers' NCAA Tournament run.
WAITING HIS TURN
Senior Brian Kelley (Potomac, Md.) saw action in a career-high 14 games and averaged 1.4 points and 0.9 rebounds while playing behind six seniors a season ago. Kelley, who provides depth and experience on the wing, is shooting 52.4 percent from the floor in his career.
READY FOR THEIR SHOT
The Beavers' sophomore class of Julian Alexis (Somervill, N.J.), Jack Coolahan (Newtown, Pa.), Frank Oftring (North Attleboro, Mass.) and Shyheim Ulrickson (Topsham, Maine) gained valuable experience as rookies and should all see more minutes this winter. Oftring scored a season-high 15 points in a NEWMAC Tournament semifinal win over Springfield, while Alexis (1.6 ppg, 0.5 rpg) and Ulrickson (1.1 ppg, 0.5 rpg) came off the bench in 17 and 13 contests, respectively. Coolahan connected on 6-of-10 field goal attempts in nine games.
The Green and White has six players in their first season with the team, a group that includes three Division I transfers. The first-year class should have an opportunity to make an immediate impact as the Beavers look to win a fourth straight NEWMAC regular season title and reach a fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament.
Babson, which was ranked No. 1 in the D3hoops.com poll for much of the 2016-17 regular season, opens this season ranked seventh in the national poll. The Green and White has appeared in 20 consecutive editions of the D3hoops.com Top 25 going back to February 14, 2016.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
The Beavers will once again face one of the region's toughest schedules, which includes as many as seven games against teams that reached the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Babson takes on three team's that made last year's national tournament in November alone, and will look to capture their fourth New England Big 4 Challenge title in five years in early December. The Green and White begins the campaign against Lasell on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. inside Staake Gymnasium.