Patriot League Tournament PreviewPosted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2010
Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League and America East Conference.
Patriot League Tournament
In a league in which the first five teams finished within three games of each other any team could win three games in a row to secure the NCAA bid. Lehigh was the best team throughout the year with a 10-4 record. If they face Navy in the semis there could be problems posed after dropping both against the Midshipmen this year. American could also beat Navy and ride the hot hand of Vlad Moldoveanu as far as he will take them. Holy Cross has a lot of skill for a #7 seeded team, but who knows if Coach Kearny can get them to perform. Lafayette faded huge down the stretch, but started out 5-1 in conference. Any of the teams could end up hosting the Patriot League trophy at the end of the tournament, but I will go with Lehigh, the favorite, to win it. Tune in for the league championship on ESPN2 on March 12 at 4:45 pm.
First Round Matchups
#8 (14-14, 4-10) Army at #1 (19-10, 10-4) Lehigh – 03/03/10 Wednesday 7 pm. Lehigh should roll in this game against Army. Every victory Lehigh has had this year has been by double figures including both over Army. The matchup problem comes in the second round. If Navy manages to beat American, Lehigh will not be pleased. Navy beat Lehigh as many times this year as the rest of the league combined.
#7 (8-21, 5-9) Holy Cross at #2 (14-16, 9-5) Bucknell – 03/03/10 Wednesday 7 pm. If Holy Cross can put together some defense this game they stand a good chance. The Crusaders beat Bucknell once at home, but lost in mid-February on the road. It seems that the Crusaders just never bought into Kearny’s system, so it will be hard to start in the playoffs. Especially after dropping four of the last five in the regular season.
#6 (10-18, 6-8) Colgate at #3 (17-12, 8-6) Lafayette – 03/03/10 Wednesday 7 pm. The away team came away with a victory in each of the games this year between these two teams. Colgate’s win over Lafayette was only one of three home losses on the year for the Leopards. It was also only one of three home victories on the road for the Raiders. I can see Lafayette continuing their second half swoon and dropping this first rounder.
#5 (13-16, 7-7) Navy at #4 (10-19, 7-7) American – 03/03/10 Wednesday 7:30 pm. American came out on top of both matchups during the regular season including a 80-77 overtime victory at Navy during the last week in February. Moldoveanu hit the go ahead layup, but a huge game out of Stephen Lumpkins won the Eagles that game. Moldoveanu scored 37 points the first time the two teams met. Navy is only 3-10 on the road this year, so the home court advantage was huge for American. The Eagles come in having won three out of their last four while Navy has dropped three in a row. American, 8-0, has never lost in a first round matchup since joining the league in 2002. Expect the Eagles to continue to live on.
Freshman C.J. McCollum of Lehigh took home not only Rookie of the Year, but also Player of the Year. McCollum was the first player in league history to accomplish the feat, and he won both votes unanimously. He was joined on the All-Patriot League First Team by senior Chris Harris of Navy, junior Jared Mintz of Lafayette, junior Vlad Moldoveanu of American, and senior Kyle Roemer of Colgate. The Coach of the Year was Fran O’Hanlon of Lafayette. The coaches preseason poll had them unanimously picked dead last, but O’Hanlon managed to lead them to a third place finish. Guard Bryan Cohen of Bucknell took home Defensive Player of the Year honors.
2009-10 Patriot League Final Standings (Con, Ovr)
- Lehigh (10-4, 19-10)
- Bucknell (9-5, 14-16)
- Lafayette (8-6, 17-12)
- American (7-7, 10-19)
- Navy (7-7, 13-16)
- Colgate (6-8, 10-18)
- Holy Cross (5-9, 8-21)
- Army (4-10, 14-14)
Preseason Predicted Order of Finish
- Holy Cross (11-3)
- Lehigh (10-4)
- Army (9-5)
- Navy (7-7)
- Bucknell (6-8)
- Colgate (6-8)
- Lafayette (4-10)
- American (3-11)
As you can see the top and the bottom of the leagues were where the real mistakes came in. Preseason favorite Holy Cross never put together the year that I expected. I thought even though they lost long time coach Ralph Willard to become Rick Pitino’s assistant at Louisville, they had enough skill for new coach Sean Kearny to lead them to the top. After a tough start out of conference the Crusaders never got on the same page. American, led by star Vlad Moldoveanu, did not fall as hard as I previously thought. Moldoveanu came on huge in the second half of the year. One of the biggest surprises was Lafayette. In the first half of the conference schedule they were in first place throughout.