Checking in on… the Patriot League

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 27th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League.

A Look Back

  • Top 4 vs. Bottom 4: In the Patriot League, it is always hard to gauge how strong a team is relative to the rest of the league after just a few games. Reason being, there is a great disparity in the quality of out of conference opponents for the league’s eight members. With that being said, the top four teams (American, Army, Lehigh, and Bucknell) in the league have combined to go 13-8, while the bottom four (Holy Cross, Colgate, Lafayette, and Navy) have feebly compiled a 3-17 record. I expect these two records to slowly become more even with each other as we move throughout the rest of non-conference play.
  • Undefeated Eagles: American has started their young season with a 5-0 record, albeit against some weak opponents as the average rank of their opponents is 280 according to kenpom.com. Needless to say, the Eagles’ top two transfers have found their niche in Washington DC and the defensive effort has been top notch thus far. Vlad Moldoveanu, a second-year transfer from George Mason, is AU’s best player, averaging 21.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, while first-year Georgia transfer Troy Brewer is averaging 13 points and 5.8 rebounds. On the defensive end, American is relinquishing just 56 points a contest. This number will most likely change when the Eagles go up against the meat of the non-conference slate (West Virginia, Florida, Northwestern, and Pittsburgh).
  • Struggles in Worcester: Holy Cross, playing under their third coach in as many years, has predictably struggled early on in the season. Learning an entirely new offensive and defensive scheme that contrasts previous year’s philosophies is no easy task; add that to having played the most difficult out of schedule thus far and you have a recipe for early season struggles. There is a strong nucleus of players at Holy Cross; it all boils down to how fast new head coach Milan Brown and the team can mesh.
  • Player of the Weeks (Nov. 8-24): Vlad Moldoveanu, American: Moldoveanu has scored in double figures in each of the Eagle’s first five games. The 6’9 forward has the body of a big man that would bang bodies in the paint, but he has the shooting touch of a shooting guard. Thus far, he is drilling 2.4 three pointers a game and is shooting 77% from the charity stripe.
  • Freshman of the Weeks (Nov. 8-24): Anthony D’Orazio, Lehigh: How is this for D’Orazio’s first half of his first collegiate basketball game: Connecting on three shots from behind the arc, scoring 14 points (more than half of Lehigh’s points in the first half), and leading his Mountain Hawks to a six point lead at the intermission? Pretty good, huh? Since this very half, D’Orazio has quieted down, but he is still averaging nearly eight points and shooting 46% from three point land.

Power Rankings

1. American (5-0)

Next Week: 11/28 vs. Columbia, 12/1 @ West Virginia

American has soundly beaten all five of their opponents by an average of 10+ points a game. Everyone knew coming into the season that first team All-Patriot League forward Vlad Moldoveanu would be the staple of the Eagles’ of the offense, but junior Stephen Lumpkins continued his stellar play from last season, and transfer Troy Brewer has been a catalyst for the offense. Guard Nick Hendra has provided steady play running the offense as he boasts better than 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. If American sustain its impressive play as they enter into the more challenging part of their out of conference schedule they will be a true force during Patriot League play.

2Lehigh (2-2)

Next Week: 11/26 @ Kent State, 11/28 vs. Bryant, 12/1 @ Stony Brook

Last year it was C.J. McCollum followed by Zahir Carrington and Marquis Hall. This year, thus far it appears to be McCollum, of course, followed by the surprising Michael Ojo, and then everybody else. The entire league knew that McCollum would be the focal point of the Mountain Hawks—there was a reason he was selected as the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year—but Ojo has been a pleasant surprise. After averaging a shade over four points for his career, and less than a three pointer made a game, Ojo is scoring 17 points per game and connecting on 3.5 threes a contest. Although they sit at just .500, Lehigh could easily be 4-0 on the young season after losing to Monmouth by a point and Penn State by a handful (they led Penn State 27-21 at the half).

3Bucknell (2-5)

Next Week: 11/29 vs. Wagner, 12/1 vs. Columbia

Much was to be expected of the Bison this year, and their performance after their two opening games suggested Bucknell will be a contender. Their gritty performance against Villanova in the season opener—a night where they shot a paltry 34% from the field, but managed to remain competitive—and then just two nights later they gave Marquette all they could handle, demonstrated how this is a deep and mentally tough team. Bucknell was thrown into the proverbial fire from the get go as they faced two of the better teams in the Big East, but held their own in each. After playing six of their first seven games on the road, their next three will be within the friendly confines of Sojka Pavilion.

4. Army (4-1)

Next Week: 11/27 @ Yale, 12/1 vs. Buffalo

It is nice to see the Black Knights get off to such a nice 4-1 start; although, I am not sure how much one should read into just solely the record. Granted, one of these wins came against Division 3 Vassar College, and the other three wins were against perennial basement dwellers (Bryant, NJIT, and Binghamton), but for a team that was picked to finish last in the league in the preseason, winning these games at least helps with the psyche of the team. Army will be able to steal some more games with their impressive three-point shooting as they are 36th in the nation hitting 41% of their attempts.

5. Lafayette (1-4)

Next Week: 11/27 vs. Delaware, 11/30 vs. Princeton, 12/1 vs. Susquehanna

The Leopards have had their only win—St. Francis (PA)—sandwiched between two losses on both ends giving them their 1-4 record. Their loss at the hands of Villanova was no surprise, but Fran O’Hanlon seems to have one of his better squads in recent years and should have stolen a game or two from Wagner, Rider, or Pennsylvania. It seems to be a three-man show for Lafayette with Jared Mintz (preseason All-League selection), Ryan Willen, and Jim Mower—the three are averaging more than two-thirds of the team’s points.

6. Holy Cross (0-4)

Next Week: 11/27 @ Massachusetts

After the Crusaders’ season-opening loss to the College of Charleston 93-84, many in Worcester were feeling pretty good about themselves and the team this year under the guidance of first-year coach Milan Brown (formerly the head man at Mount St. Mary’s). Charleston was coming off a one point loss to Maryland, and had the Southern Conference’s preseason Player of the Year Andrew Goudelock on their side; putting up 84 points on such a talented squad was encouraging. The debacle at Harvard, however, erased many of these encouraging emotions. Losing 72-49 against the Crimson, followed by two more losses to New Hampshire and Boston College, will pose challenges to Holy Cross from a confidence and team morale standpoint. It is up to Andrew Keister, a preseason All-League selection, and senior point guard Andrew Beinert to rally the troops.

7. Navy (2-5)

Next Week: 11/27 vs. MD Eastern Shore, 11/29 @ Mount St. Mary’s

Of Navy’s first 10 games, eight of them are on the road; couple that with their top play Jordan Sugars’ shooting woes and the Midshipmen have gotten off to a rough start. Sugars, who averaged nearly 16 points and hit on better than 40% of his three point attempts last year, is now connecting on less than a quarter of his attempts and has seen his points per game dip by three points since last season. Although Sugars has struggled, life for Navy has just become more difficult after he suffered a freak injury in practice to his non-shooting hand. What is also discouraging is the margin of defeat for Navy (21.6); it will take a little more than just Sugars, once he is healthy again, to jumpstart the Midshipmen. Ironically, Navy was able to get past Towson without Sugars in the lineup behind a career high 31 points from freshman J.J. Avila.

8Colgate (0-4)

Next Week: 11/27 @ Dartmouth

Colgate is just a few possessions here and there from being 2-2, instead of 0-4. It was a foregone conclusion that they would get walloped by the consensus number one ranked team in the nation in Duke, but their games against Binghamton and St. Francis (PA) were both decided on the final possession. The Raiders have been heavily relying on their stud junior forward Yaw Gyawu, who is their only player to average in double figures.

Caught on Film

With just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the Bucknell Bison led Marquette 57-45 and seemed poised to defeat a Big East juggernaut. After playing such solid defensive basketball, and methodically on the offensive end, Bucknell relinquished 24 straight points to the Golden Eagles. The following clip highlights the Marquette run:

A Look Ahead

  • The road does not get any easier for Holy Cross, who travels to Massachusetts and Wake Forest in their next two games. Although, considering Wake has lost to Stetson, Virginia Commonwealth, and Winthrop, maybe the Crusaders can steal a game from the Demon Deacons.
  • American has a 5-0 record, but has largely been untested thus far. They will have a chance to show if they are indeed the class of the league against West Virginia on December 1.
  • Bucknell finally concluded their play in the CBE Classic after their loss against James Madison. They now have three home dates—all very winnable games—against Wagner, Columbia, and Boston University.
  • Lafayette has a much needed home stand. After four of their first five games were away from Easton, the Leopards’ next five will be in the Kirby Sports Center.
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Checking in on… the Patriot League

Posted by jstevrtc on December 26th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League and America East Conference.

Current Standings (overall record):

  1. Army  9-2
  2. Lafayette  7-5
  3. Lehigh  5-6
  4. Bucknell  4-8
  5. Navy  4-8
  6. Holy Cross  2-9
  7. American  2-10
  8. Colgate  1-9

Hottest Team: 

Army (3-0) — W 59-46 at Dartmouth, W 62-56 vs. Mount St. Vincent, W 54-46 vs. New Hampshire

The Black Knights continued their hot streak and are in the midst of their second four-game winning streak of the season.  They finished the road trip with a record of 2-1 winning the final game at Dartmouth before handling Mount Saint Vincent and New Hampshire at West Point.  This is the first season since 1978-79 that Army has put together two four-game winning streaks.

Stud Player:

Vlad Moldoveanu  Jr., American – 19 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 26.7 MPG

Moldoveanu has shined in his first three games since transferring over from George Mason.  He scored 26 points in the upset victory over Depaul, the conference’s biggest win to date.  Moldoveanu is shooting great from all over the floor: 45% from the field, 43.5% from downtown, and 84.6% from the charity stripe.  It is going to be great to watch this 6’9 shooter during the conference schedule.

Thoughts on the Patriot League:

The Patriot League has gotten some national recognition over the past two weeks.  The hottest team in the league received a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 for the second consecutive week and, for the second straight season, Marquis Hall was nominated for the Bob Cousy Award, an award given to the top collegiate male point guard across all divisions.  Finally, an upset by a league doormat over a Big East team brings some legitimacy to the league.

Army already has their second four-game winning streak of the season going.  In the streak the defense is giving up an average of only 47 PPG.  A big reason for that is their ability to force turnovers.  Seniors Cleveland Richard, Josh Miller, and Marcus Nelson are ranked 1-2-3 in the Patriot League in steals this year.  Richard leads the way with 2.2 per game. They also are 2-4-5 on Army’s all-time list at 128, 124, and 122, respectively.  The all-time record at Army is 143 steals held by George Tatum.  The Black Knights have some consistent scorers, too.  Richard has broken double figures in every game throughout the stretch.  Sophomore guard Julian Simmons and backcourt mate Miller also have each reached double figures in two games during the streak.

The hottest team that does not reside in West Point is the Lafayette Leopards.  They went 2-0 in the last two weeks before exams.  Lafayette is riding a three-game winning streak into the holiday break.  The next game is not until the 29th at Delaware.  The last two wins came against two New York teams.  First they beat Long Island at home by fourteen, followed by a five-point victory at St. Francis.  In Brooklyn the Leopards shot 70% in the second half, but St. Francis managed to hang with them throughout the game.  A seventeen-point lead turned into a four-point game with under two minutes to play.  Sophomore guard Jim Mower led the way with 16 points off of 4-7 shooting from three-point range.  Three other Leopards scored in double figures.  Mower is shooting over fifty percent from downtown this season, good enough to lead the Patriot league.

Lehigh went 2-1 over the past two weeks.  In the 66-55 win over Marist, Lehigh led by as many as 21 points in the second half.  Marist made a run to pull themselves within seven with under nine minutes to go.  Lehigh was then able to buckle down and stretch it back to 11, which ended up being the final difference.  Seniors Zahir Carrington and Marquis Hall each scored in double digits with 12 and 16 points, respectively.  Carrington also finished with 13 rebounds for the Mountain Hawks.  Lehigh hit fewer field goals and threes than Marist, but got to the line 21 more times.  That ended up being the difference in the game.  In the loss to St Joseph’s the two seniors couldn’t have played any worse.  Hall finished with only one basket and Carrington had ten turnovers.  The Mountain Hawks as a team committed ten turnovers. Even with their early 10-0 lead, the turnovers were too hard to overcome.

Bucknell is in the midst of a five-game winning streak.  The most recent loss was a 32-point thrashing by Notre Dame in South Bend.  Bryson Johnson had 17 point and Stephen Tyree had his best game this year with 15 points and six rebounds.  They had no answer for Notre Dame’s star Luke Harangody, with 20 points and 11 rebounds, or the Irish’s hot outside shooting.  Notre Dame went 9-15 in three-pointers in the first half.  Ben Hansbrough scored 14 points in the first half.

Navy is also suddenly on a serious slide losing the last four games in a row.  The Midshipmen played Seton Hall close in the first half before getting blown out 66-34 in the second half in Newark.  Senior guard Chris Harris was the only Navy player to finish in double figures with 12 points, but it took him 17 shots to reach that total.  In the two most recent losses he has shot an abysmal 6-31 from the field.

Holy Cross lost their only game of the most recent session, an 82-79 setback to Sacred Heart.  Sophomore guard R.J Evans led the way with 20 points and five rebounds.  Holy Cross had a five-point lead at half and was up by as many as 11 points in the second half, but could not put Sacred Heart away. Sacred Heart regained the lead with under five minutes to play and never relinquished it the rest of the way.  The Crusaders shot well from the field, 50% from three-point range.  Holy Cross also out rebounded the Pioneers 47-34, but turned the ball over 23 times.

American picked up their second win of the year over Depaul.  The win was huge for the Patriot League over the legendary Big East conference.  Vlad Moldoveanu led the way with 26 points and eight rebounds in the 62-57 victory.  Stephen Lumpkins added pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds inside and Nick Hendra scored a career-high 17 points. American led at half 32-24 and was able to hold on in the second stanza.  The Eagles were down 57-56 with three minutes to play but scored the final six points of the game for the victory.

In the last version of Checking In on the Patriot League the key upcoming matchup was Colgate’s game against Dartmouth.  It wasconsidered Colgate’s best chance at getting a win before the conference schedule started up.  The prophecy turned out correct.  Colgate was victorious against Dartmouth to break their nine-game losing streak, 63-44.  It was a five-point game with five minutes to play, but Colgate allowed only one basket the rest of the way.  It was the least amount of points they had held an opponent to since the 2008 Patriot League semifinals.  Sophomore forward Yaw Gyawu led the way with 14 points.

Key Upcoming Matchup:

01.06.10 – Holy Cross at NC State – 7 pm.

With American’s recent victory over Depaul the Patriot League can start envisioning some more upsets over teams from the bigger conferences. American has Florida on December 28th, but the above game might be a better chance for the league.  Sean Kearney is still trying to put together the parts to get this team playing how they should be.  Will they have it together by the matchup in Raleigh?

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