BENNINGTON -- The Southern Vermont College men’s basketball team begins its path back to the New England Collegiate Conference postseason when the regular season begins this week.
Michael McDonough, now in his ninth year as head coach of the Mountaineers, returns five players to his team, including 2011-12 All-NECC first-team member and senior captain Taeshon Johnson.
McDonough also brings in 10 freshmen and transfers from across the country and the globe, with new Mountaineers from Venezuela and the Netherlands. Sophomore captains Jermaine Campbell and Travis Severs will join Johnson in leading the Mountaineers this season.
"We come off a very difficult and disappointing season," said McDonough. "But we have a core group of returners -- Taeshon, Travis, Corey and Jermaine -- who are committed to turning things around. As a team, we are pleased that we’re all on the same page."
Southern Vermont was chosen by the conference coaches in the preseason poll to finish eighth. The Mountaineers are have spent the last four weeks working to prove that prediction wrong and grab one of the six playoff seeds come late February.
Becker College, the 2011-12 conference champion, was selected to once again finish first in the NECC.
The Mountaineers begin the action with the annual Williams Tip-Off Tournament at Williams College at 8 p.m. on Friday.
Non-conference matchups also include a continuation of the Skidmore rivalry and a trip to Middlebury College, both taking place in November.
"It remains to be seen whether we can position ourselves to challenge in the conference," McDonough said.
NECC play starts on Dec. 4 when SVC hosts Elms College at 6 p.m. This season, Southern Vermont will also welcome Williams to the Mountaineer Athletic Center on Jan. 29.
SVC women begin season at Curry
The 2012-13 Southern Vermont College women’s basketball team will have a fairly new look compared to last year’s team, due to the fact that freshmen fill 11 of the team’s 12 roster spots.
Head coach Mike Quinn, in his fourth year at the helm of the women’s team, returns sophomore captain Jyline Varin to the squad. Beyond that, the group is comprised of new faces.
All eleven newcomers are freshman at the college, coming from nearby areas of Vermont and New York and as far away as Texas.
"This will be a very different year for Southern Vermont women’s basketball," Quinn said. "We will be relying on freshmen to mature quickly and carry this team forward."
The Mountaineers were selected to finish eighth in the New England Collegiate Conference in the preseason coaches’ poll after going 6-12 in the conference last year and graduating six players.
Regis College, which went a perfect 18-0 in NECC regular season play before losing in the semifinals, was chosen to finish first again. Defending champion Elms College was picked to finish second.
"We have a talented group of women who I believe are up to the task," said Quinn.
SVC starts the season on Friday with the Curry Tip-Off Tournament, facing Curry College at 7:30 p.m.
Quinn and company begin conference play on December 4 when they host Wheelock College for an 8 p.m. tip. Additional non-conference opponents this season include New England College, Sage College, and Mass. College of Liberal Arts.