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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Albertus Magnus Selected Atop 2019-20 GNAC Preseason Poll


Connecticut rivals Albertus,
USJ finish 1-2 in coaches' ranks

WINTHROP, Mass. – Fresh off its sixth Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Men's Basketball Championship in eight years, Albertus Magnus College has been selected atop the 2019-20 GNAC Preseason Poll, as voted upon by the league's head coaches.

Under 13th-year head coach Mitch Oliver, who won his eighth GNAC title overall this past winter, the 2018-19 Falcons caught fire late last season, as his young squad won six straight in January/February to capture the top tournament seed on the final day of the regular season.

While Albertus went on to cruise through the GNAC Quarterfinals and Semifinals, the first-year men's program at University of Saint Joseph (CT) went on the road as the No. 7 seed in the GNAC Tournament to defeat Suffolk University and Saint Joseph's College of Maine in a 48-hour span.

That set up an all-Connecticut title game, where Albertus staved off legendary head coach Jim Calhoun's Blue Jays, 81-77, in the GNAC Championship, before ultimately falling to Christopher Newport in the NCAA Tournament.

The two programs made impressions that have carried over into the 2019-20 campaign, as Albertus received eight of a possible 12 first-place votes and 139 points to take the top spot, while USJ garnered three first-place votes and 129 points in the poll.

The two programs will meet head-to-head at Albertus on Wednesday, January 29.

Johnson & Wales University (RI) took the third spot in the poll with 117 points, as the Wildcats bring back 2019 GNAC Player and Defensive Player of the Year Brian Hogan-Gary, who averaged 23.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.7 steals last season.

Suffolk took the fourth spot with one first-place vote and 111 points overall, as head coach Jeff Juron was lauded as the 2019 GNAC Coach of the Year after leading the Rams to the No. 2 seed a year ago.

Emmanuel College rounded out the top-five in the poll with 96 points overall, as second-year head coach Danny Lawson was named the 2019 Northeast Region Coach of the Year after guiding the Saints to an astounding turnaround from the 2017-18 campaign. Last year's Saints went 18-8 for an overall improvement of 14.5 games from the year prior.

Making up the remainder of the poll were Saint Joseph's of Maine (82 points), Colby-Sawyer College (76), Lasell University (61), Regis College (52), Anna Maria College (31), Norwich University (26), and Rivier University (16).

The 2019-20 campaign tips off this Friday, November 8, as Albertus takes on Lynchburg and MMI at Hood College for the MMI Tip-Off Tournament.

USJ will wait to commence its season until Saturday, Nov. 16 at home against RIC, while JWU tips off on Nov. 15 versus York (Pa.) down in Salem, Va. 

Along with Albertus on the opening weekend, also in action from the GNAC will be Anna Maria, Colby-Sawyer, Lasell, Rivier, Saint Joseph's (Maine), and Suffolk.

The GNAC will shift to a 16-game divisional schedule beginning with the 2020-21 season, as the 2019-20 campaign marks the final year GNAC teams will play each other once.

2019 GNAC Men's Preseason Poll
1. Albertus Magnus (8) – 139
2. Saint Joseph CT (3) – 129
3. Johnson & Wales – 117
4. Suffolk (1) – 111
5. Emmanuel – 96
6. Saint Joseph's Maine – 82
7. Colby-Sawyer – 76
8. Lasell – 61
9. Regis – 52
10. Anna Maria - 31
11. Norwich – 26
12. Rivier - 16

The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors and administers 22 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunity and community involvement in an effort to enhance the student-athlete experience.