BABSON PARK, Mass.—Following a third straight season with 20 or more wins and a third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance last winter, the Babson College men's basketball program has its sights set on contending for a national title in 2016-17.
Led by 22nd-year head coach Stephen Brennan, the Beavers bring back 11 players, including all five starters, from a team that went 23-6 and reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 a year ago. The two-time defending New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) champions feature six seniors, led by the reigning National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division III Player of the Year Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.).
A two-time All-America selection, Flannery averaged 23.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists while becoming the school's all-time leading scorer and winning his third straight conference player of the year honor last winter. He is joined in the backcourt by senior Sam Bohmiller (Franklin, Mass.), who averaged. 7.7 points and finished with a 3.9 assist-to-turnover ratio in addition to shooting 40 percent from three-point range last year.
Junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) started the final 13 games of the season and averaged 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds, and shot 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. Senior Matthew Droney (Canton, Mass.) started 19 contests and contests and contributed 5.8 points and a team-high 4.5 assists for the Green and White, while junior Chris Lowry (Union, Conn.), who played key minutes down the stretch, and classmate Brian Kelley (Potomac, Md.) both provide depth and experience on the perimeter.
Senior Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) garnered all-conference and all-region accolades last season after averaging 16.0 points on 60.6 percent shooting to go along with a team-high 8.6 rebounds in his first season with the Beavers. Junior Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, Md.) finished third on the team in both scoring (12.1 points) and rebounding (5.4), and shot 53 percent from the floor in his first season as a starter.
Senior Charlie Rice (Barnstable, Mass.) averaged career highs of 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 23 games off the bench, while classmate David Stauffer (York, Pa.) saw action in all 29 contests and chipped in with 3.8 points and 2.4 boards. Sophomore Tyler Colon (Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif.), who made his first career start in Babson's NCAA Tournament Second Round win last March, played in 26 games as a rookie and contributed 3.8 points and 1.3 rebounds.
With a veteran roster that has helped the program to six NCAA Tournament wins over the last two seasons, Brennan understands the excitement around the start of this year's campaign. "Having 11 guys back from last year's Sweet 16 team inherently has created high expectations for our group," he said. "We have tremendous experience and leadership, which will keep us focused on our daily preparation, communication, energy and effort. We've had a strong preseason and are looking forward to getting started."
The Beavers will hosts Albertus Magnus in their season opener on Tuesday at 7 p.m.