WALTHAM, Mass. – As it has annually since 2010, the Bentley University men's basketball team will launch its season by hosting its Tip-Off Classic.
It's a strong field this time around with the four teams having combined for an 82-39 record and the three visiting teams – Saint Anselm College, Bloomfield College and Goldey-Beacom College – all defending division champions in their respective conferences.
Play gets underway on Saturday with nationally-ranked Saint Anselm squaring off against Bloomfield at 5 pm and the host Falcons facing Goldey-Beacom in the 7 pm nightcap.
The two Northeast-10 teams will switch opponents for Sunday's action with Saint Anselm meeting up with Goldey-Beacom at 3 pm and Bentley closing out the tournament at 5 pm against Bloomfield.
The field includes two reigning conference players of the year – Saint Anselm's Tim Guers (Northeast-10) and Goldey Beacom's Corey Tatie (Central Atlantic) – as well as Bentley senior guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate), who owns two of the four highest single season scoring averages in program history. In addition, both Bloomfield's Keith Washington and Saint Anselm's Cody Ball collected All-Conference honors last season.
Bentley coach Jay Lawson returns three double-figure scorers, a list headed by Richmond, and a a fourth starter, sophomore Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/Thayer Academy), who was part of the NE10 All-Rookie team a year ago.
Richmond, after scoring 22.6 a game as a sophomore, bettered that to a school record 23.6 last season when he shot 48 percent overall, 38 percent from three and 81 percent from the line. He scored 30 or more in three of the final five games and finished the season with 1,414 career points, 20th in program history. Immediately in front of him are Ray Andersen '71 (1,429), Nate Fritsch '08 (1,442) and Kevin Bower '80 (1,446).
The frontcourt tandem of junior Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Hampden Williston School) and sophomore Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) teamed for about 25 points and 12 boards a game last year. Hudson posted an impressive .566 field goal percentage, knocked down 22 of 42 triples and averaged 13.3 points. Gilpin followed at 11.9 points and shot 42 percent from downtown.
Mello-Klein gave the Falcons 7.6 points a game and made half of his three-point attempts (23 of 46). Also among the returnees is junior guard Seth Stankiewicz (Reading, Pa./Reading HS), who buried 44 percent of his attempts from distance and scored 7.2 points a game.
Goldey-Beacom, coming off a second straight 20-win season, has a talented senior class that features Taite (19.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals as a junior). Mahir Johnson was the CACC's most accurate three-point shooter last year, hitting at a .459 success rate, and Marcellus Livingston provided the Lightning with 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds a game as a freshman last winter.
Bloomfield was hit hard by graduation after reaching the NCAA Division II East Regional championship game last March with the Bears returning only five players from the 24-8 team. Leading the way is Washington, whose 2017-18 contributions included 17.1 points and 3.5 rebounds a game. The next highest returning starter is senior Kavione Green at 5.4 a game. Coach Gerald Holmes' team was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the CACC North Division for the tenth straight year.
Saint Anselm coach Keith Dickson utilized the same starting five throughout a 22-9 season last year and returns four of those players, including Guers. The two-time first-team All-NE10 performer filled the stat sheet with over 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game. Ball, also a senior, followed with a 14.7 average and forward Chris Paul is coming off a productive rookie season in which he produced 11.8 points a game. Not surprisingly, the Hawks were voted number one in the NE10 Northeast Division preseason coaches poll.
Following the opening classic, Bentley will prepare for its NE10 opener Wednesday evening at Stonehill.