For the fourth year in a row, America East coaches have tabbed Boston University as the preseason favorite to win the conference at the league's media day last Thursday in Hartford, Conn. BU received six of a possible nine first-place votes.
The Terriers return three returning players from a squad that was a game away from an NCAA Tournament berth last season, among them Preseason All-Conference Team selections in senior forward John Holland and junior forward Jake O'Brien.
Despite having been labeled the preseason favorite for the past four seasons, BU has failed to win the regular season or conference tournament championship in each of these seasons. For this coaching staff and the players alike, the lofty preseason expectations are nothing new.
"I think for BU, four years in a row of being preseason number one, you're definitely the hunted," Chambers said in an interview with The Daily Free Press. "We've been through it now and we obviously haven't been successful at it, but that's my job. We have to continue to continue to get better and take steps and make strides every day."
It is worth noting that the poll was conducted before Stony Brook junior forward Tommy Brenton suffered a knee injury that will likely keep him out for an extended portion of the season.
Joining the three returning players are three transfers, all of them juniors -- guard Matt Griffin from Rider University, guard Daryll Partin from LaSalle University and Patrick Hazel from Marquette University -- to go along with a highly-touted freshmen class that was ranked among the top ten mid0major recruiting classes by Scouts Inc.
The increased depth provided by these newcomers should be a welcome presence for a team that was continually plagued by injuries and a short bench last season. However, it also makes it that much harder to figure out who the key contributors to this team will be, an idea summed up by Chambers when he said that "Even John Holland and Jake O'Brien are not guaranteed to start."
Talented as players like forward Dominic Morris, guard Travis Robinson and guard D.J. Irving may be, Chambers indicated that, as is the case with most freshmen, it may take some early adjustments to the college game before they begin to provide key contributions for a team that has to make up for the losses of Corey Lowe, Carlos Strong and Tyler Morris.
"Early on, we’re going to lean on our veterans a lot, and just groom our freshmen and bring them along slowly," Chambers said. "You may not see a lot of them early, but you’ll definitely see them come January."
The task now for the Terriers is to legitimize their lofty pre-season billing behind a largely unknown group of new players, a task that is compounded by a conference that figures to have several teams -- Stony Brook, Maine and New Hampshire, among others -- vie for the league crown -- a fact acknowledged by Chambers in an impassioned, albeit hyperbolic, address to the media day audience.
"We've got one of the best conferences in the country," Chambers said. "This year is going to be brutal, it's going to be absolutely brutal. I think that the country's going to find out how tough and how hard this league is this year."