Falcons Opens Season with Bentley Tip-Off Classic Friday and Saturday

Jordan Mello-Klein
Jordan Mello-Klein

WALTHAM, Mass. – As it has annually since 2010, the Bentley University men's basketball team will launch its season by hosting a tip-off classic at the Dana Center. This year, the field includes Saint Anselm College, Concordia College (N.Y.) and Wilmington University (Del.).

Coach Jay Lawson's Falcons, unbeaten in their last eight season-openers, will make their 2019-20 debut Friday at 7 pm against Wilmington, a team it hasn't faced in six years. That will follow a 5 pm contest between Saint Anselm and Concordia.

On Saturday, the two Northeast-10 Conference teams will switch opponents with Saint Anselm facing Wilmington at 3 pm. The classic will conclude with a 5 pm match-up between the host Falcons and Concordia.

Action from all four games can be viewed on the NE10 NOW digital network, which is available online at www.NE10NOW.tv or by downloading the NE10 NOW app on your smart TV.

Bentley, coming off a 19-10 season, will have a different look during Lawson's 29th season at the helm following the graduation of All-America Ryan Richmond, the number three scorer in program history with over 2,000 points, and two-year starting forward Zach Gilpin. In addition, junior Colton Lawrence (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO HS), the team's number two scorer and rebounder last winter, will be sidelined for the season as a medical redshirt.

The most experienced of the team's eight returnees are senior forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Williston Northampton School) and junior guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/Thayer Academy), both of whom have over 50 career starts under their belts.

Hudson, a third-team All-Northeast-10 selection last winter, led Bentley in rebounds (8.2) and blocks (24) while scoring 14.4 points a game. He's one of the NE10's premier rebounders, most notably at the offensive end where his 2.8 average topped the conference, and was one of only three players in the conference with at least 30 steals and 24 blocks.

Mello-Klein owns the third best three-point mark in program history at .431, and is coming off a sophomore year in which he averaged 8.3 points and 3.3 assists. He was also a solid rebounder for a guard, collecting about five a game.

Lawson, who used the same starting lineup in every game last season, will need some of last year's reserves to play a larger role this time around. That group includes senior guard Seth Stankiewicz (Reading, Pa./Hill School), junior forward Pete Blust (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central HS) and sophomores Mason Webb (Oklahoma City, Okla./ Bishop McGuiness HS), Brian Wright-Kinsey (Brooklyn, N.Y./Brooks School) and Adria Amabilino Perez (Barcelona, Spain).

Webb led Bentley's bench in playing time last year as a freshman, playing 16 minutes a game and averaging 4.4 points and 2.2 rebounds. He made 42 percent of his three-point attempts and was outstanding at the line, sinking 23 of 25.

Blust started strong, averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in the first four games before a foot injury kept him on the sidelines the rest of the season. Stankiewicz is a career 42 percent shooter from outside the arc who averaged over a seven a game as a sophomore.

Freshmen who Lawson expects to call upon are guard Kellen Bochenek (Kettering, Ohio/Fairmont HS) and swingman Isaac Martin (Peachtree Corner, Ga./Norcross HS).

Wilmington, 12-17 last season, features one of the region's top players in senior Jermaine Head. He was a first-team All-CACC and second-team All-Region performer a year ago when he filled the stat sheet with 23 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists a game. Also back for the Wildcats are guard Tyler Norwood, who scored 17.5 a game in 11 contests as a freshman, and guard Danny Walsh, who averaged 12 points as a fulltime starter.           

Alex White Jr., a six-foot-eight junior, is the only returning starter for Concordia, which is coming off a 9-19 season. He scored nearly nine a game and was one of the premier rebounders in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, averaging 8.1 with 79 at the offensive end. Sophomore forward Devon Sims, who averaged 15 minutes and 4.2 points, is the next most productive returnee for coach John Cavaliere.

Saint Anselm, coming off a 26-6 season and ranked 21st nationally preseason by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, graduated Northeast-10 Player of the Year Tim Guers and All-Conference guard Cody Ball, a duo who combined for 35 points a game. Junior forward Chris Paul, who averaged 14.7 points and about six rebounds, tops the list of veterans, and veteran coach Keith Dickson also returns two other starters, six-seven junior Gustav Suhr-Jessen (11.9 ppg) and senior guard Danny Evans (8.6).

Five of Bentley's six November games are at home, with the tournament game followed by a contest against Molloy College on Nov. 17.