The 2019-20 men's basketball season in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference will move into Divisional play over the next few weeks with the ultimate goal of reaching the MCAC/Region XIII Tournament on February 28 - March 1 to be held in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Read on for previews of men's MCAC programs in the Northern Division, as submitted by Conference coaches.
Early season results show what should make for an interesting and competitive race in the North; Central Lakes College and coach Jim Russell started the season ranked in the Top 10 NJCAA Basketball preseason poll, while two programs, Vermilion Community College and Mesabi Range College, both debut new head coaches in Reed Peterson and David Wilson, respectively. Itasca Community College began 2019-20 with a 4-0 run out of the gate, while Rainy River and Northland have tangled with some top quality NJCAA Division II programs to prepare for Divisional play. Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College will also take on a NJCAA Division II program, Gogebic and have already faced off with nationally-ranked MCAC foe Riverland Community College. Hibbing Community College saw a pair of tough tests when they took on North Iowa Area Community College and Ellsworth to start their non-conference season in early November.
The MCAC basketball season will begin with Inter-Divisional weekends after Thanksgiving in which Southern and Northern Division teams face of in a Friday-Saturday format; MCAC Inter-Divisional games do not count in MCAC Divisional standings but are reflected in a team's overall mark. The first round of Northern Division action will start on Friday, December 20.
For all things men's basketball in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference, go to: https://mcac.prestosports.com/sports/mbkb/index
2019-20 MCAC Men's Basketball Northern Division Previews
Head Coach: Jim Russell 22 years at Central Lakes College, 444-179 Overall
Assistant Coaches & Staff: Mark Lindquist, Jerome Urbaniak
2018-19 Season: 26-7 Overall; 15-1 MCAC Northern Division (Champion) MCAC State / Region XIII Tournament Champion. Advanced to NJCAA National Tournament, 4th place finish.
Key Returning Athletes: Tyree'on Johnson, F, Coon Rapids, MN; Josh Arnold, G, Apple Valley, MN; Brandon Burggraff, F, Brainerd, MN.
Key Incoming Athletes: Tyler Baribeau, F, Aurora, MN; Kameron Givens, G, Minneapolis, MN.; Beau Bailey, G, Lakeville, MN.
Coach Russell on the Raiders this Year: "We have a Good Balance of returner and newcomers that should provide another exciting year."
Former Raiders Playing at the 4-year level in 2019-20: Keonte Jenkins, at Bethel College, IN; Malik Kelley, Benedict College, SC; Al-Jureau Ray, Blue Mountain College, TN
Head Coach: Bill Engel, 4th season at RRCC, 61-43 Overall
2018-19 Season: 16-11 Overall, 11-5 Northern Division. Region Tournament Qualifier
Key Returning Athletes: Nehemiah Harrigan Forward, Coral Glades, FL; Fabian Figueroa Guard, Miami Beach, FL
Key Incoming Athletes: Shaquoy Ferrol, G/F, Ocheechobee/FL; TJ O'Connor, Guard, Miami,/FL; Trey Winkler, Guard, Gehring, NE; Faizon Francis, Guard, Deerfield Beach, FL; De'Andre Morris, Forward, West Palm Beach, FL; Leomar Castillo, Forward, Miami Beach, FL
Coach Engel on the RRCC Program in 2019-20: "The Voyageur's have the potential to compete at the top of Northern Division but will need to come together reach their potential."
Former Voyaugers Playing at 4-year colleges this season: Davarius Wright, Lakehead University; Trey Jones, Dillard University; Greg Barber, Lakeland University; Kenny Price, Piedmont University; Braxton Benvenuti, Northern Vermont-Johnson
For more Rainy River men's basketball on Twitter, go to: @Rainyrivercc; @rrccbasketball
Head Coach: Rick Nikunen, 28th year at NCTC, Record: 360-341 Overall
Support Staff: James Retka, Athletics Director
2018-19 Record: 13-15 Overall, 9-7 in MCAC Northern Division
Key Returning Athletes: Bakri Gubara, G, Nashville, TN; Brenson Alteme, G, Port St. Lucie, FL; Ibrahim Nasir, G, Nashville, TN
Key Incoming Athletes: Zack Meyer, F, Spring Hill, FL; Quincy Leday, G, Opelousas, LA; Neal Garcia, G, San Antonio, TX.
Coach Nikunen on the Pioneers this season: "We should be very competitive in the division."
Former Pioneers playing at 4-year colleges this season: Z'Mari Minter at Delta State; Cole Piatko, Columbia International; Brandon Murat, Southern Wesleyan: Juwaun Evans, Livingstone College;
Head Coach: Shannon Roberts, Fifth Season at Itasca
Assistant Coaches: Henry Hellmann; Eric Blair
2018-19 Season: 14-13 Overall, 9-7 Northern Division, 5th Place North
Key Returning Athletes: Eric Chenault, Guard, Woodbury MN; Dan Ricard, PG, Baton Rouge LA
Key Incoming Athletes: Brian "AJ" Pinkney, PG, Waycross GA; Zykeith "Ziggy" Shider, PF, Waycross GA; Tyreek Myles, Guard, Blackshear GA; Nick Grant, Guard, Houston TX
Coach Roberts on Itasca this season: "We'll be deep, athletic and competitive."
Former Vikings Playing at 4-year colleges in 2019-20: Andrew Johnson, Central Christian College; Anthony Johnson, Central Christian College; Devonte Morgan, Champion College
Head Coach: Chuck Tolo, 2nd season, 11-10 Overall
Assistant Coach: Phill Homere
2018-19 Season: 11-10 overall, 8-8 in North Division, 5th place North
Key Returning Athletes: Jarves Hunt, G, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Kenten Miller, G, Woodbury, MN
Key Incoming Athletes: Branley Previl, F, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Vaughn Reynolds, F, Salt Lake City, UT
Coach Tolo on the IceHawks in 2019-20: "We are continuing to create a foundation for a strong program in the future. We want to continue to be competitive both in the northern division but in the entire league. We want to keep working at trying to make the playoffs and we'll go from there."
Head Coach: Reed Petersen, 1st Year as Head Coach
Assistant Coaches: Timothy Loney, Bud Ahrens
2018-19 Season: 11-16 overall, 6-10 in North Division, 7th Place North
Key Returning Athletes: Curtis Bell, G-F, St. Paul, MN; TaRay Graves, F, Minneapolis, MN; Devarius Davis, F, Shreveport, LA; Kengi Bryant, G, Miami, FL
Key Incoming Athletes: Austin Funk, Stewartville, MN; Terence Ballom, New Orleans, LA; Devonne Tramble, St. Paul, MN
Coach Peterson on the Ironmen this season: "It's going to be a big change following Paul McDonald's retirement- we have some good players coming back that will hopefully step up as leaders and mesh well with the new players we have coming in."
Head Coach: David Wilson, 1st Season at Mesabi Range College
Assistant Coaches: Matt Breeden Assistant Coach, Jesse Bennett, Statistician
2018-19 Season: 14-12 Overall, 12-4 in North Division, 2nd Place North
Key Returning Athletes: William Howard, F, St. Louis, MO; Joshua Bryant F, Bloomington, MN; Mamoudou Cisse, G, St.Cloud, MN
Key Incoming Athletes: Jaylen Williams, G, Denver, CO; Arthur Joaquim, France; Marquice Hill, G, Texas
Coach Wilson on the Norse this season: "We look to be competitive, and advance into the playoffs. Additionally we seek to be a team on and off the court."
Head Coach: Paul Ciochetto, 2nd year, 4-21 Overall
Assistant Coaches, Staff: Daniel Warren - Student Assistant; Miriam Kero Academic Advisor; Amanda Stokes-Ciochetto Admisitrative Assistant; Makayla Murden Student Manager; Kailey Reddick, Trainer
2018-19 Season: 1-15 Overall
Key Returning Athletes; Cole Mammenga, Forward, Hibbing, MN
Key Incoming Athletes: Marcus Malloy Jr, Guard, West Deptford, NJ; Raiden Forrest, Guard, West Fargo, ND, Moe Washington, Las Vegas, NV, Rycen Lagmay-Yamada, Guard, Las Vegas, NV, Josh Biggs, Guard, Phenix City, AL; Kevaun Maul-Edwards, Guard, Kansas City, MO; Chris Smith, Guard, Kansas City, MO; Jay Harris, Forward, Apple Valley, MN; Khyle Spence, Forward, Daytona Beach, FL; Amin Ali, Center, Minneapolis, MN; Jaydn Colbaugh, Guard, Hibbing, MN; Josh Patterson, Forward, Indianapolis, IN; Adel Chapman, Forward, Cape Coral, FL
Coach Ciochetto on the Cardinals this season: "We have thirteen new faces that bring energy and enthusiasm to the program. They all have high basketball IQs and can get it done in the classroom. We look forward to an exciting year."
For More on Hibbing Men's Basketball on Twitter: @HCCCards
Head Coach : Brian Burtnyk, 2nd Year, 5-16 Overall
Assistant Coaches: Marc Ross, Kevin Gutter
2018-19 Season: 5-16 overall, 4-10 in North Division, 5th Place
Key Returning Athletes: Eric Grant, G/F, Groveport, OH; Dwayne Saunders, G, Wilmington, DE
Key Incoming Athletes: Kevin Bryant, G, Lakeland ,Florida; Damien Schwab, C, Pine City, MN
Coach Burtnyk on the Thunder season expectations: "Extremely excited to coach another group of young men. Can't wait to see their improvement on the basketball court."
For more on Thunder basketball on Twitter: @FDLTCC_HOOPS
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, as well as select member colleges in North Dakota and Wisconsin. The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions. The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.
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