By Craig Meyer/DFP Staff
HARTFORD, Conn. -- For those around the Boston University men's basketball program, the past several months have been a time of rapid and fundamental change.
The Terriers first lost their leading scorer and reigning America East Player of the Year in forward John Holland, who graduated in May after spending the greater part of the last four years as the face of the BU basketball program.
A couple of months after Holland played his last game in a BU uniform, head coach Pat Chambers, on the heels of a NCAA Tournament appearance in just his second season on Commonwealth Ave., accepted the head coaching position at Penn State University, leaving the school with the task of searching for its third basketball coach in four years.
However, amidst all of this transformation, one thing has remained a constant for BU over the past half-decade -- lofty preseason expectations, a trend that continued Thursday as the Terriers were slated as the preseason favorite in the America East coaches poll.
It marked the fifth-consecutive year in which BU was the No. 1 team in the preseason poll.
"I think this recognition speaks volumes to the quality of our University, our basketball program and our players," first-year head coach Joe Jones said in a statement. "We have an outstanding senior class who I believe is ready to lead us into a very competitive America East conference."
BU received six of a possible eight first-place votes and tallied 62 total points in the poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.
Closely trailing the Terriers was the school it narrowly defeated to reach the NCAA Tournament -- Stony Brook University, who finished in second place with 56 points and three first place votes. The University of Vermont finished in third place in the poll, followed by the University at Albany and the University of New Hampshire in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
The Terriers return four starters from the 2010-11 team and lost just two players in Holland and former walk-on guard H.J. Gaskins.
Among the returning players is senior guard Darryl Partin, the team's leading returning scorer, who was awarded preseason first-team all-conference honors. Playing in his first season since transferring from La Salle University, Partin averaged 14.3 points per game and was given a spot on the all-conference first-team.
With one of the conference's top players and with the weight of preseason expectations placed upon them yet again, the Terriers are ready for whatever awaits them in Jones' first season.
"I speak for our staff and players when I say we are honored to be the preseason pick," Jones said, "but we are fully aware that it will be a battle each and every night."