By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Bridgewater State University men's basketball team will have holes to fill after losing five rotation players to graduation.
The Bears begin the 2017-18 season Wednesday night in Cambridge when they face MIT before traveling to Potsdam, N.Y., this weekend for the North Country Invitational.
Only two starters – guard Rocky DeAndrade and forward Joe Carty – return from a team that went 15-11 anad 7-5 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.
BSU lost top scorer, Fawaz Mass of Taunton, who averaged 15.9 points as a senior.
"I'm kind of happy with what I've seen so far," said coach Joe Farroba, now in his 26th season. "We've got some guys who have played some, but now it's going to be their turn."
DeAndrade averaged 13.8 points and 3.2 assists as a junior and will provide leadership at the point guard spot.
"He's mature beyond his years and embraces the leadership role," said Farroba. "He's really dedicated himself this year and is in fantastic shape."
Carty averaged 11.7 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior and will be counted on inside. He will likely miss the opener with an injury.
Carney sat out last season after averaging 8.6 points in 25 games as a freshman. Ward and Grant played 10 and seven minutes per game, respectively, last season.
"Carney can be a good scorer for us," said Farroba. "We're hoping he adds some points. He can shoot the three and go to the hoop.
"Ward is physical and can rebound and Grant is a solid defender."
The bench should include sophomore forward Dimitri St. Louis of Brockton, a Cardinal Spellman High graduate and transfer from Rhode Island College; freshman guard Jonathan Mercado, junior forward Matthieu Midouin of Taunton; junior guard Bo Garcia; and freshman forward Michael Vrabel.
The first opponent, MIT, is picked to win the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference and lost to Harvard, 73-64, in an exhibition game last week.
The Bears, who are picked to place second in the MASCAC, will face Clarkson at the SUNY-Potsdam tourney opener, then hosts Rhode Island College next Tuesday.
"We're going to be busy early," said Farroba. "We're playing some good teams. We'll have our work cut out for us and it'll be a good challenge."