(Nashua, N.H.) The 2016-2017 Rivier Raiders are a young group of fiery competitors who has their collective eyes set on turning around a program that has struggled in recent years under the tutelage of 1st year Head Coach Lance Bisson. The immediate future for the Raiders looks bright as this years' version of the team is one of the most competitive in the area at the Division III level. Adding new members to the roster and coaching staff alike has changed the environment with a work ethic Raider Nation will be proud to support.
This years' team is made up of five key returners, whose experience and leadership will be relied on heavily. This group of upperclassmen has stood with the Rivier University program through it all and are looking to be the pillars on which future success for their younger teammates and Raiders to come is built upon. They are led by Senior Captain Kevin Francis (Cromwell, Conn.) who is the Raider's returning statistical leader in many categories; including Points Per, Game Assist, Rebounds and Minutes Played last season in his junior campaign. This year Kevin is looked at as one of the most complete players in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and as a player who can dominate games in many areas. This All- Conference caliber player will once again look to carry the load statistically for the Raiders in the 2016-17 season. Senior Captain David Lorden (Pepperell, Mass.) will be asked to bring strength and energy to the Raider line up once again. David will be asked to provide toughness down low and rebounding for the Raiders as he is poised to end his career with his best season yet.
Junior Captain Matt Vigars (Exeter, N.H.) appears to be stepping up in many ways; this year will be his first as a full-time starter. Along with major increase in minutes played for Matt he is viewed as one of the leaders on this years' Raider team and sets an example everyday with his tenacity and selfless approach. Sophomore Bruce Barton (Webster, N.H.) looks to have a big presence in the middle of the Raider defense and a big impact every time he steps on the court. At 6'8'' Bruce will anchor the inside for the Raiders. Senior Tom Deveau (Lynn, Mass.) has been battling injury for numerous years as a member of the team, and this year after another setback Tommy will be looking to step in and make a positive impact on the team second semester.
"Our leadership core will be the backbone of the rebuilding process here, we could not ask for a better group of upperclassmen to establish our standards as a program" -Head Coach Lance Bisson
The Raiders will showcase a dynamic pair of transfers this season, first Junior AbdoulNasser Mika (Boston, Mass.) whose athleticism and experience should make an immediate impact. Along with Sophomore Angel Perez (Miami Fla.) who brings quickness and explosive play making ability to the Raiders. These two will be in the rotation from day one and fill specific roles that should have Raider fans excited about the new additions.
"The transfer players are huge additions to the program; and have seamlessly woven themselves into the fabric and make-up of this year's group!" - Assistant Coach Jim Migneault
This year's Raiders will feature one the best freshman classes in the history of Raider Basketball, with the departure of players off of last year's roster to transfer and graduation this group of freshman will have many opportunities to impact the season. The first year group of players is led by starting Point Guard Freshman Keith Poitier (East Hartford, Conn.). Keith possesses a skill set rarely seen for a player his age, as a Freshman Keith will lead this team through his savvy decision making and dazzling passing ability. The class of 2020 will feature Tristan Givens (Windsor, Conn.) a gifted offensive player who has the ability to light up the scoreboard on any given night; Tristan will be relied on to score for the Raiders. This elite level scorer is just what was needed for a team that struggled scoring the ball at times of last season, checking in with 67.7 points per game which was 7th in the GNAC.
Freshman Joshua L'Heureux (Dracut, Mass.) is a talented guard who can shoot the 3-ball with the best of them in the conference. Joshua also brings a tough minded approach that is contagious with teammates and willingness to work every day. The freshman class is rounded off by Joshua O'Loughlin (Milford, N.H.) and Jeremiah Pena (Nashua, N.H.) both of which bring a positive attitude and a work ethic that has been making the team better every day.
"This year's freshmen are wise and tough beyond their years and everyone should be excited about the bright future they bring to Raider Basketball all while seeing them make immediate impacts this year!" -Assistant Coach Troy Bowen
The Raiders will look to bounce back and regain their spot as a top team in the GNAC after a 4-14 in conference record in the 2015-16 campaign. The signs are all pointing toward improvement as First Year Head Coach Lance Bisson has implemented a fast paced offense that will be near the top of the conference. All while maintaining that Rivier University remains one of the top defensive teams in the GNAC as they have been for more than a decade.
The season starts with a mid-November tilt with in-state rival Plymouth State who has gotten the best of the Raider in recent years. The Great Northeast Athletic Conference regular season begins when the Raiders travel up to Northfield, VT to take on GNAC foe Norwich University to tip off the 2016-17 season.
"This year's team is one of toughness and grit" – Said Head Coach Lance Bisson "We will be a fun team to watch and one our fans will be proud of on a night to night basis. Our goals consist of getting better every day and returning to postseason play where we can make a run and compete for a championship once again!"