North Adams, MA- The MCLA Men's Basketball program has been selected to finish sixth in the MASCAC preseason poll following a vote of the league's coaching staff. The Trailblazers, who went 10-16 last season but were 6-6 in the MASCAC, open up play Friday night at John Jay. Bridgewater State has been selected as the preseason favorite.
The Trailblazers, under the direction of third year head coach Derek Shell, open with seven of their first eight games on the road. The tough stretch includes next weekend's Amherst College tournament, national power Williams, Sage, and the St. Joseph (CT) squad led by new coach Jim Calhoun, of UConn fame.
The home slate opens with a game with RPI on December 4th. A road trip to Rivier on the 6th is in store before MCLA closes out semester play with a home matchup with Union (NY).
New to the schedule in 2018-19 is the Trailblazer holiday tournament scheduled for December 29th and 30th. The Trailblazers host Norwich in the opener with Saturday's opponent yet to be determined. MCLA will host SVC in their final tilt before MASCAC play on January 2nd.
Shell's troops open with Westfield State on the 5th to kick of the 12 game conference slate. The Trailblazers hope to begin MASCAC tournament play on Tuesday, February 19th.
MCLA returns eight players from a season ago, however they'll have to replace their top four scorers from last season. Senior Ki-Shawn Monroe leads the returners after averaging 8 ppg and led the team in assists from the point guard position. A pair of sophomores in Mike Demartinis and Hayden Bird should factor into the offense as both combined to average 15 ppg as rookies.
A newcomer to keep an eye on this season is transfer Joaquin Scullark. He played at Fulton Montgomery CC and should see playing time early on.