Patriot League Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2009

Marty Leon is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League. 

Patrtiot League Playoff Preview

#1 American vs #8 Lafayette - Lafayette took American to overtime last week at home. American is 21-7 overall and 13-1 in league play. This is their second year in a row as #1 seed. They won 11 road games, tied for tops in the country. Like all Patriot games this will be a battle, and anything could happen but most likely will not.

#2 Holy Cross vs # 7 Bucknell – Holy Cross smoked Lehigh by 15 to end the season and are playoff sharp. Bucknell has overachieved all year but just had a tough 17 point loss to Army.  Ralph Willard’s team will march on, right into a title game with American.

#3 Navy vs #6 Colgate – This veteran Navy squad has a legit shot at a title run. Kaleno Kena had 23 as the midshipmen just beat Colgate to end the season.  Colgate too young, Navy too experienced.

#4 Army vs. #5 Lehigh – We thought Lehigh would have a better year.  They will not go to West Point and beat a determined Army team on their home turf.  Kudos to Jim Crews for a great year and the #4 seed.

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Checking in on the… Patriot League

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2009

Marty Leon is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League.

Leon’s Leads - Tom Brennan to Georgia !!!  The Current ESPN Hoop analyst and Georgia Alum could bring his Vermont Magic to Athens.

Rush the Courts Ten Reasons Why Tom Brennan Could Coach Georgia !!

  1. Graduate and former player.
  2. Great Recruiter.
  3. Will demand academic performance of players.
  4. Players coach.
  5. Turned losing Vermont team into nationally respected program.
  6. Terrific at promoting University.
  7. Never takes himself to seriously.
  8. People of Georgia would love him.
  9. Beat Syracuse.
  10. Would be a great addition to homecoming festivities.

Holy Cross Getting It Done

At 6-1 in the league, Holy Cross has  proven they are for real and the top contender to take the title away from American. Freshmen R.J Evans has been awesome, averaging 13 ppg and second in the league in steals. The guard from Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut has been rookie of the week SEVEN times!!  Andrew Keister has helped carry the load, leading the Patriot in field goal percentage and seventh in rebounding. Ralph Willard has done a great job regrouping his team after a rocky injury plagued start to the season.

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Checking in on the… Patriot League

Posted by rtmsf on December 13th, 2008

Marty Leon is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League.

Patriot League Struggles Out Of Conference

Navy Sole Survivor of Titanic Two Weeks. The past two weeks have been brutal on the majority of teams in the Patriot League. Army had an unthinkable loss to Presbyterian. Holy Cross lost to midwest power(?) Loyola of Chicago. Lafayette went down to Fordham, Central Connecticut and Hartford, while a young Colgate team struggling to score, lost at home to Kennesaw State. Bucknell took it on the chin against Wagner. had a twenty point loss to Stonybrook, and preseason conference  favorite American bowed to Mount St. Mary’s.

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2008-09 Season Primers: #23 – Patriot

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2008

Marty Leon is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. American  (24-5,  14-0)
  2. Navy  (19-10, 8-6)
  3. Lehigh  (18-11, 7-7)
  4. Colgate  (17-11, 7-7)
  5. Holy Cross  (16-14, 7-7)
  6. Lafayette  (13-15, 7-7)
  7. Army  (13-15, 6-8)
  8. Bucknell  (5-23, 0-14)

What You Need to Know (WYN2K).  The Patriot League is the second cousin of the Ivy, with academic standards for student-athletes tougher than 90% of the rest of the country.  Bucknell and Holy Cross have been the historical kings of this league until American emerged last year.  With four starters returning led by Garrison Carr, they are a lock to win the league again.  Navy’s Kaleo Kina and Lafayette’s Andrew Brown are two of the league’s best returnees.  Here’s a clip from American’s clincher last year versus Colgate (love the RTC footage). 

 

Predicted Champion.  American (#14 NCAA) should repeat as champions.  Colgate, a conference tourney finalist last year, was set to challenge until 1,000 point scorer Kyle Roemer went down for the year with an ACL tear.  The experience of American and the program’s momentum after last years great season will lead them to Selection Sunday again.  A possible #14 seed, Jeff Jones’ squad gave Tennessee all they could handle for 35 minutes in last year’s first round of the NCAA Tourney. 

Others Considered.  Navy, Lehigh, and Colgate shore up the middle of the pack.  The Midshipmen return nine of their top ten scorers.  Marquis Hall and Zahir Carrington of Lehigh are both potential all league performers and they could be a sleeper.  Emmit Davis’ Colgate five were primed for a title run until Roemer went down, but still will be a tough out.  Holy Cross is striving to return to its glory days under Ralph Willard.  Jim Crews’ Army team had a nice year in 07-08 and will compete.  Bucknell, with new mentor Dave Paulsen, has been crushed by preseason injuries and only has ten healthy bodies at this time. 

Key Games & RPI Boosters. 

  • American @ Oklahoma  (11/14/08)
  • American @ Georgetown  (12/6/08)
  • American @ Maryland  (12/22/08)
  • Colgate @ American  (2/14/09)

Neat-O Stat.  Patriot League coaches have sigificant experience at multiple levels of college basketball.  American’s Jeff Jones has been head coach at Virginia, Holy Cross’ Ralph Willard has been head coach at Pitt, and Army’s Jim Crews has been head coach at Evansville.  On the flip side, Bucknell’s Dave Paulsen has been head coach of D3 Williams and St. Lawrence, and Emmit Davis of Colgate and a member of his staff played at St. Lawrence.

65 Team Era.  The Patriot League didn’t come into existence until the 1991-92 season, but despite its pedstrian record (2-15, .118), in its short time it’s managed to make some NCAA Tournament noise over the years.  Everyone of course remembers the Bucknell upsets of 2005 (Kansas) and 2006 (Arkansas), as the Bisons made it to the second round in consecutive years.  But from 2001-03, Ralph Willard’s Holy Cross team seemed to live on throwing major scares into top-tier seeds, losing by only four to #2 Kentucky (2001), eleven to #1 Kansas (2002), and four to #3 Marquette (2003). 

Final Thoughts.  When evaluating this league, the word that comes to mind is parity.  These teams are all evenly matched so rarely do you get a blowout in any conference games.  This is a great coach’s league.   Winning at home is crucial to having a successful season.   Anyone but American emerging this season would be a huge surprise, and AmU has a chance to break through the first round and make some noise in the NCAA tournament.

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Conference Primers: #21 – Patriot

Posted by rtmsf on October 23rd, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Holy Cross (19-7) (11-3)
  2. Bucknell (19-8) (10-4)
  3. Lehigh (17-12) (8-6)
  4. American (13-16) (7-7)
  5. Colgate (12-15) (7-7)
  6. Army (12-16) (6-8)
  7. Navy (9-19) (4-10)
  8. Lafayette (6-23) (3-11)

WYN2K. The story of the Patriot League this season, like many other low-major leagues, is that the big dogs are suddenly vulnerable. Holy Cross and Bucknell have combined for six of the last seven Patriot League championships, but with a mass of graduations and injuries between the two, the gap between themselves and the rest of the league is closing. The question is whether the gap in talent returning has closed enough to where we can make a good faith argument that another team will win the Patriot this year. Sadly, we can’t.

Predicted Champion. Holy Cross (#14 seed NCAA). Ralph Willard’s team lost its entire starting backcourt of conference POY Keith Simmons and DPOY Torey Thomas, but guards at the low major level are easier to replace than bigs, and former 2005 ROY Pat Doherty should smoothly take over the reins of the Crusaders (if he can stay healthy). Six other players return from a 13-1 team, but the most intriguing is 6’11 center Tim Clifford. Schools at this level simply do not have the luxury of skilled size, yet Clifford (#42 block% nationally) has shown that he can anchor the post for one of the nation’s most efficient defenses (#5 in defEff and #1 in stl% nationally). The Crusaders have gone 44-1 over the last three seasons in the Patriot League against ABB (anyone but Bucknell), so there is also a psychological advantage here that shouldn’t be understated.

Others Considered. As much as we really enjoy watching Bucknell play in the NCAAs, we fear that their personnel losses are simply too much to justify picking the Bison to win the league this year. Bucknell was already losing three main cogs from its 2005/2006 NCAA squads (Chris McNaughton, Donald Brown & Abe Badmus) before it got news that incumbent forward Darren Mastropaolo tore his ACL over the summer and will likely miss this season as well (all three inside players from the nations #1 offReb% team are now gone). That leaves guard John Griffin as the team’s sole returning starter with a group of talented reserves ready to step up. While we expect Bucknell to take a bit of a step back this year, we really don’t see another team in the Patriot ready to vault into the Bison’s position as a member of the Big Two. If we have to choose one, Lehigh is probably the most viable candidate. The Mountain Hawks return several starters from a 7-7 squad, but their coach Billy Taylor jumped to Ball St. in the wake of the Ronny Thompson fiasco. One knock against this team is that, in a league filled with three-point shooters, Lehigh defends against the three like a sieve (in other words, teams shot 39.2% from three against them last year – #318 nationally). Another team we considered is Colgate, who returns most of its minutes except for leading scorer Jon Simon, but they have a tendency to underachieve (20 wins in two years) and we don’t expect that to change substantially this season.

Games to Watch. Bucknell and Holy Cross are must-watches for this league. They will probably meet three times again this season.

  • Bucknell @ Holy Cross (01.19.08) & Holy Cross @ Bucknell (02.16.08)
  • Patriot League Championship Game (03.14.08) ESPN2

RPI Booster Games. This is the first league we’ve analyzed this year that pulled a complete oh-fer against BCS opponents last season (0-23). Bucknell came closest to pulling out wins, losing in OT to both Wake Forest and Penn St. (the Bison did beat Xavier 68-67). Nevertheless, this is probably a simple anomaly because this league is good enough to get a few wins against BCS teams most years. Out of only fifteen scheduled this year, here are the best opportunities.

  • Army @ Minnesota (11.10.07)
  • Bucknell @ Villanova (11.18.07)
  • Seton Hall @ Navy (11.23.07)
  • Bucknell @ Wake Forest (12.16.07)
  • Colgate @ Syracuse (12.18.07)
  • Lehigh @ Penn St. (12.31.07)
  • Holy Cross @ Maryland (01.08.08)

Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. None this year, but if Bucknell and Holy Cross continue to grow their programs, there could be a foreseeable future where both of these teams would have good enough overall resumes to get an NCAA bid.

Neat-o Stat. Just how dominant have Bucknell and Holy Cross been in this league over the past three years? Try 80-4 on for size, with a perfect 28-0 record in 2007 against the other six conference members. Is it any wonder that the other six coaches are cautiously optimistic about their chances this season? Of course, in order to have a chance to win this league, the bottomfeeder group of Army, Colgate, Navy and Lafayette are going to have to do better than finishing in the bottom fifty teams nationally in offensive efficiency (cf. with Bucknell – 140th; Holy Cross – 189th).

64/65-Team Era. The Patriot actually has one of the worst conference histories of this era (2-16, .111), ranking only ahead of the SWAC (.043) and the Northeast (.042) conferences in terms of NCAA Tourney success (and tied with the OVC and Big South). Part of this is due to its seeding, which has averaged #14.9 over the years. Still, in the last five years with the ascendance of Bucknell and Holy Cross, the league has earned an average seed of #13.2, which, not coincidentally, is the period of the most success of the league. The two wins were both orchestrated by Bucknell in magnificent upsets, the 2005 victory over #3 Kansas 64-63 still resonating in the nation’s heartland (in the form of firebillself.com… joking… joking… these are simple jokes we tell…). Enjoy.

Final Thought. As we’ve gone through the low majors we’ve been a little surprised by just how many dominant programs have risen to the top of these leagues. It’s gotten to the point in several conferences where if you don’t see a particular name such as Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Penn/Princeton (Ivy), Winthrop (Big South), Davidson (Southern), or Holy Cross/Bucknell, etc., then something went seriously wrong. By pure coincidence, Holy Cross and Bucknell are the two Patriot League schools that spent the most money on its hoops programs in 2006 (h/t to Mid-Majority).

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09.11.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 11th, 2007

We’re so far behind in news that this is a must-post…

  • Huckleberry Hound Roy Williams and the entire 1966 Texas Western squad were the collegiate candidates inducted into the Basketball HOF on Friday.  No beef with the Glory Road fellas (although UK and Rupp’s ex post facto vilification is a story that still needs correcting), but has RW accomplished enough yet (five F4s, one title) to warrant inclusion?  Seems as if the committee jumped a little early on that one.
  • Come see the new inclusions in your town this fall, as the HOF is making a 30-city tour around the country over the next year.  The spokesperson of the tour is the Human Highlight Film himself. 
  • Stability in the Northeast – BC’s Al Skinner and Holy Cross’s Ralph Willard both had their contracts extended through 2013. 
  • Calipari mobilizes the entire city of Memphis to watch his players, who apparently cannot be trusted out on their own without inciting a freakin’ riot.  We knew before it even came out that The Mouth of the South, Joey Dorsey, would somehow be involved in this.  Make it rain, Joey.     
  • Not to be outdone, Mike Davis’s transfers at UAB decided to party without him, and all five were arrested on various charges.  The most disturbing in our eyes?  Walter Sharpe’s outstanding warrant for his arrest on a prior marijuana charge.  Not only did he already have a prior, but he didn’t even show up for the hearing?  And Davis didn’t know about this??  Now we know why IU fans wanted him gone.
  • Oh, and former Terp star and NCAA Champion Lonny Baxter has an unhealthy interest in firearms likes guns. 
  • From a while back, ESPN believes that nearly a third of D1 teams are eligible to become Bracket Busters.  (h/t to Awful Announcing)
  • Louisville’s new arena (due in 2010) is already bidding for future NCAA Tournament games.  Possible beneficiaries:  Kentucky, Indiana, Cincinnati, Xavier.   
  • Rivals weighs in with Alabama, Villanova, Illinois and others’ Labor Day weekend trips.  (takeaways:  Bama will struggle w/o Steele and Scottie Reynolds was on fire
  • Andy Katz also contributes with reports (here and here) of his trip to Mexico with OJ Mayo and USC.  (takeaway: OJ is the real deal)  
  • Goodman also has some summer excursion thoughts on Oklahoma, Duquesne, USC and Arkansas here; and Villanova, Marquette and James Madison here
  • Apparently Ohio St.’s Kosta Koufos was offered but did not take a Christian Drejer deal in Greece last week. 
  • Blue Ribbon’s preseason All-Americans are out – Drew Neitzel, Chris Lofton, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Dominic James.  We’re lukewarm on Neitzel as a first-teamer. 
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