COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team was selected to place eighth in the eight-team Northeast Division in the Northeast-10 Conference's preseason poll, which was released by the league office on Thursday and chosen by the member institutions' head coaches.
The Purple Knights totaled 27 points while Saint Anselm College topped the poll (111). The Hawks were last year's NE10 Championship runner-up and qualified for their sixth straight NCAA Tournament. Saint Michael's went 7-19 overall and 4-17 in the league last season but defeated Saint Anselm, 76-74 in overtime, on Feb. 17 during its home finale. The Purple Knights suffered nine losses by 10 points or fewer.
The 39-year-old NE10 begins its sixth season with its 15 teams split between two divisions, with eight competing in the Northeast Division and seven in the Southwest Division. All teams will play either 20 or 21 conference games, depending upon division, and the top five squads from each division will qualify for the 10-team NE10 Championship.
This year's Purple and Gold squad returns a deep veteran core with 10 returners, who are joined by three first-years. Senior Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep), a Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2 CCA) all-region and College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America player last winter, led all NCAA East Region players in scoring (24.1), three-point shooting (47.1%), threes per game (3.5) and free throw percentage (89.9%) while adding 4.2 rebounds, 48 assists and 27 steals. Senior Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) averaged 12.7 points and 4.4 rebounds with 16 blocks and 25 steals while draining 47 threes.
As a part-time starter, junior Eli DiGrande (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) posted 6.8 points, 4.6 boards and 19 blocks. Classmate Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School) scored 6.3 points with 4.0 rebounds, 65 assists and 25 steals, junior Jordan Guzman (Staten Island, N.Y./Xaverian) had 57 helpers and 29 steals, while senior Jaylen Hall (Chicago, Ill./Lincoln Park/Richard J. Daley) tacked on 23 assists and 17 steals.
The Purple Knights' sixth season under head coach Josh Meyer begins on Nov. 9-10 when they visit the Assumption College Tip-Off Classic to oppose Concordia (N.Y.) College and Molloy (N.Y.) College. Saint Michael's first heads to the University of Vermont on Nov. 4 for a 4:30 p.m. exhibition contest.