BOSTON – UMBC was picked to finish third in the 2017-18 America East Conference preseason coaches' poll, the league announced today. It is the highest preseason selection for the Retrievers in 15 conference campaigns.
In addition, graduate student guard Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) was tabbed to the Preseason All-Conference team for the second consecutive year, a first for any UMBC men's basketball player in the program's America East era.
After posting one of the most successful seasons in #AEHoops history, Vermont is the unanimous favorite in the 2017-18 America East Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll announced Thursday morning. Preseason poll voting was conducted by the conference's nine head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
UMBC was picked fifth in 2007-08, the year they went on to capture the regular season and tournament titles and represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament. The following season, the Retrievers were tabbed fourth and they reached their second consecutive America East title game.
Lyles is the conference's top returning scorer after ranking second overall by averaging 18.9 points per game last season. The 6'2" dynamic guard has scored 1,086 points in just two UMBC campaigns and is currently 17th on the school's all-time scoring list. He also led the team and finished fourth in America East with 6.6 rebounds per game.
Lyles received his undergraduate degree with a double major in psychology and sociology in May of 2017, but enrolled in UMBC graduate school (education) and compete for the Retrievers in his fourth season of eligibility in 2017-18.
Eighteen players who earned All‐Conference, All‐Defensive or All‐Rookie honors last year return for the 2017‐18 season. America East is coming off one of its best men's basketball seasons in recent history as its conference RPI of 21 was its best since the 2008-09 campaign. The league's 57 non‐conference wins against Division I opponents were its most in the conference's modern history. Four teams made postseason appearances for the third-straight year, including UMBC, which became the third America East team to reach the semifinals of a postseason tournament in as many seasons.
The 2017-18 season begins on November 10 with conference play starting on January 3. Conference positioning will again prove key for the #AEPlayoffs. After drawing record-attendance figures each of its first three years, every round of the #AEPlayoffs will take place on the higher seed's home court for the third-straight season. The league champion will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, where America East teams have won eight games all-time and is in the midst of its best three-year seeding average in 15 years.
2017-18 Preseason Coaches' Poll
Rank School Pts (1st-Place Votes)
1. Vermont 64 (8) - unanimous
2. Albany 57 (1)
3 UMBC 45
4. Stony Brook 38
5. New Hampshire 37
T6. Binghamton 29
UMass Lowell 29
8. Hartford 16
9. Maine 7
2017-18 Preseason All-Conference Team
Trae Bell-Haynes, Vermont
Joe Cremo, Albany
Anthony Lamb, Vermont
Tanner Leissner, New Hampshire
Jairus Lyles, UMBC
David Nichols, Albany
Jahad Thomas, UMass Lowell