BABSON PARK, Mass.—Coming a fifth straight conference tournament semifinal appearance and less than two years removed from capturing the program's first Division III national championship, the Babson College men's basketball program is looking to return to national prominence in 2018-19.
Under the direction of head coach Stephen Brennan, who enters his 24th season at the helm, the Beavers return nine players from a squad that went 15-11 last winter. Despite losing a pair of all-conference selections, the Green and White brings back three of its top five scorers and six players that averaged at least 11 minutes a season ago.
NEW LEADERS EMERGE
Following the graduation of nine seniors over the last two seasons, the Beavers will lean on a strong nucleus of veterans to compete in the ultra-competitive New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) this winter. Brandon Johnson (Mount Vernon, N.Y.), who averaged 12.2 points on 48.6 percent shooting and a team-high 6.8 rebounds last year after transferring from Boston University, is the team's top returning scorer and the lone senior on the roster.
Brennan returns a pair of starting guards in junior Shyheim Ulrickson (Topsham, Maine) and Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, Conn.) as part of a deep backcourt. Ulrickson shot 46.6 percent and averaged 7.0 points and a team-high 3.4 assists, while Jaworski reached double figures in scoring and contributed 9.6 points and 3.3 boards in 24 contests. The duo is joined by Julian Alexis (Somerville, N.J.), who averaged 3.0 points in 25 games off the bench, and sophomores Ju'Quan Mills (Boston, Mass.) and Matt Pattyson (Piperville, Pa.) to form a deep and experienced group of guards.
HOLDING IT DOWN IN THE POST
Junior Frank Oftring (North Attleboro, Mass.) appeared in all 26 games and made two starts, averaging 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16.1 minutes a season ago. An inside-outside threat, he shot 52.7 percent from the floor and 50 percent (18-of-36) from beyond the arc, on his way to reaching double figures on five occasions.
SHOOT YOUR SHOT
Junior Jack Coolahan (Newtown, Pa.) and sophomore Graham Dolan (Williamsville, N.Y.) are both looking to make an impact on the court after gaining valuable experience last season. Dolan started the first five contests and averaged 5.6 points and 4.0 boards before suffering an injury that kept him out for much of the season, while Coolahan chipped in with 2.8 points on 45.7 percent shooting. Both wing players poses the ability to get hot from beyond the arc.
THE ROOKIES ARE READY
The Beavers' five-man first-year class features players from Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York that should get a chance to contribute on the floor.
The Beavers were picked to finish fourth behind defending tournament champions MIT, 2018 Final Four participant Springfield, and WPI when the NEWMAC released its preseason poll last week. The Beavers had won three straight regular season titles prior to last year's second-place finish.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Following back-to-back road games to start the year, the Beavers will play six straight contests at home to close November and begin December. Babson could face as many as four NESCAC opponents over the first month of the season, and will begin conference play on January 2 following a trip to Washington, D.C.