WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University men’s basketball team has been ranked No. 24 in the first D3hoops.com Top 25 poll, released Monday.
The highest-ranked public university among five ranked New England schools, Eastern has won its first five games for the first time in eight years, with four of the victories coming in two tournaments. All of the team’s games have been on the road, with three of them on its’ opponents’ court. In winning two tournaments, Eastern has defeated the host school in the championship game of both tournaments – WPI (78-68) on the opening weekend of the season Nov. 18 and Colby College (83-77) this past Sunday. No team in the Top 25 has a higher win total than Eastern.
With a 21-9 record, Eastern is coming off its seventh 20-win season in the last eight years and fourth straight Little East Conference regular-season championship, as well as last year’s LEC tournament title.
Eastern leads the LEC in five major statistical categories, among them scoring margin (+13.6), turnover margin (+9.8) and steals (48). The Warriors rank ninth nationally in turnover margin.
Individually, senior guard Tarchee Brown (Rockville) – the MVP selection at both of this year’s tournaments – leads the LEC in points (107) and is third in scoring (21.4),while sophomore guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) – an all-tournament selection at Colby – tops the conference in assists (5.4) and steals (3.2) per game. Gonzalez (33) and Brown (22) rank 1-2 in the conference in free throws. Gonzalez is shooting 91.7 percent from the stripe, Brown 68.8. Senior guard Kendall Marquez (Willimantic) shares second place in the LEC in three-point percentage (41.2).
In addition to the aforementioned three players, rounding out this year’s starting five are junior forward Leonel Hyatt (Greenwich) and freshman guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook), with Keene State College sophomore transfer guard Jake Collagan (Wethersfield) averaging 11.8 points off the bench.
Eastern looks for its first 6-0 start in 24 years when it opens its Little East Conference season at Rhode Island College Saturday. The Warriors are ranked No. 1 in the LEC pre-season poll, RIC No. 7. Eastern has swept the Anchormen in the season series three of the last four years.