Checking in on… the Patriot LeaguePosted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2009
Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference and Patriot League.
2009-10 Patriot League (Conference, Overall)
- Lafayette (0-0, 4-1)
- Army (0-0, 3-1)
- Lehigh (0-0, 3-2)
- Bucknell (0-0, 3-3)
- Navy (0-0, 2-3)
- Colgate (0-0, 0-4)
- Holy Cross (0-0, 0-5)
- American (0-0, 0-6)
Team of the week: Lafayette (4-1) – W 81-72 vs. Wagner, L 81-70 at Sacred Heart, W 88-77 at St. Francis (PA), W 69-52 at NJIT, W 86-82 vs. Hartford
Player of the week: Jared Mintz– Jr. Lafayette 18.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 68.8% FG, 1.0 spg
Thoughts on the AE.
Three teams are still looking for their first victory on the season, while one team has came out and surprised us all with their start by matching their non-conference win total from last year already. The top scorer in the league finally found his shooting touch last game and the preseason pick is looking like a mistake.
The surprise team so far this season is Lafayette. The Leopards have won four out of their first five, with their only blemish on the record an eleven-point loss at Sacred Heart. Offensively they look great. They are shooting over fifty percent from the field, and over forty percent from three-point range. When a team shoots as good as that it’s hard to beat them. The key to this team so far has been big man Jared Mintz. Mintz is averaging over 18 points on almost 69 percent shooting from the field. He has led the team in scoring and rebounding for four of the five games. This has opened up the floor for the shooters. Lafayette has three major contributors shooting over 44 percent from three-point range. Against Hartford, six players scored in double figures. Mintz led the way with 18 points, but it was the three-point shooting that helped Lafayette jump out to a big lead. Five different players hit a three-ball for the Leopards within the first ten minutes of the game. Lafayette was up by as many as 22 before allowing Hartford back into the game in the second half. If the Leopards keep it up they will be a hard out all year.
After Army dropped the first game at VMI, they have strung off three straight wins. The Black Knights’ three wins were by a combined thirteen points. Sophomore Julian Simmons and senior Cleveland Richard are leading the way each averaging over 13 points per game. Simmons is doing it by shooting over 50% from downtown while Richard is shooting a horrendous 17% from three-point range. This is after last year’s 40% clip Richard shot at from behind the arc. Simmons came up big scoring 11 points in the last six minutes against Harvard to help the Black Knights overcome a six-point deficit. Simmons has scored in double digits every game so far and has been moved into the starting lineup the last two games. The starting lineup now includes four players 6’3” or shorter. After winning the previous two games against Ivy League competition, Army is hoping to continue the streak against Yale Saturday.
Coming into this year it looked liked Lehigh was going to rely heavily on seniors Marquis Hall and Zahir Carrington. A pleasant surprise so far is how well freshman CJ McCollum is playing. McCollum is averaging over sixteen points a game so far for the Mountain Hawks. He has led the team in scoring the last three games, all wins. At St. Francis, McCollum scored 20 points to lead Lehigh to their first road victory. This is not to discount Hall’s ability in leading the Mountain Hawks. Hall is averaging over nine points and almost eight assists a game so far. In the last four games, he has broken the double-digit barrier in assists three times.
Bucknell has three players averaging double digits so far led by Patrick Behan with 13 points per game. Behan is also averaging seven rebounds a game. The Bison started out with two losses and then proceeded to rip off three straight wins before falling at Columbia. Columbia had the hot hand shooting 13-for-18 from three-point range making it tough for Bucknell to defend. Bucknell still managed to secure an eight-point lead with ten minutes to go before falling apart. They only hit one shot from the field in the final ten minutes. Stephen Tyree is slowly coming along and looking more and more like his old self at times. Tyree scored 12 points in the most recent loss.
Chris Harris of Navy had only hit 18 of 74 shots from the field through the first four games. In Navy’s fifth game he finally found his stroke. Harris shot 11-for-21 from the field and 12-for-12 from the line to finish with 37 points for the game. It upped his average to 20.6 points per game. Harris has now hit 33 straight free throws after going two for his first four on the year. The Navy school record is 34 in a row, so he needs to hit his next two to break it. Hopefully Harris’ touch stays with him because Navy is going to count on his scoring this year. In the meantime Jordan Sugars has stepped up his game scoring 15.4 points per game and shooting over 53% from downtown. Sugars is also pulling down 8.4 rebounds a game.
Colgate is one of three teams still looking for their first victory. Their last game out senior Kyle Roemer did all he could to get them the win, but came up short in the end. Roemer scored 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including 5-for-6 from behind the arc. In the second half though the Raiders could not guard the three, as Milwaukee shot 6-for-8 from downtown.
The most surprising of the three winless teams is my preseason pick to win it all, Holy Cross. After getting handed a home opener loss by Harvard, the Crusaders lost the next two by a combined five points. Since then Holy Cross got beat handily at Rhode Island and at UNLV. The Crusaders have five players averaging double-digits led by Devin Brown. Brown is scoring 12.6 points per game off the bench. The Crusaders are turning the ball over 14.4 times a game. They need to cut down on the turnovers and turn up the defensive intensity because opponents are shooting 47.7% from the field so far. Holy Cross also needs to shoot free throws better, Brown and preseason 1st team pick, R.J. Evans, are both shooting under 50% from the charity stripe. Both of them are the leaders in foul shot attempts for Holy Cross.
Defending Patriot League champion American University is expected to have a down year, but no one is happy without a win through the first six games, especially with five at home. The closest the team has gotten to victory was Daniel Munoz’s missed runner in the lane as time expired against Albany. The 51-50 loss was tough because American came up short on three consecutive possessions in the last two minutes of the game.
Key Upcoming Matchup
11.28.09 – Lafayette at #17 Georgetown – 12 pm. The Leopards just came off a game against Hartford that was a tale of two halves. If the first half Lafayette team comes out they could keep this game interesting. If the hot hands are not there it will be a long day in D.C