PATRIOT LEAGUE CONFERENCE PREVIEW
The one interesting thing about this conference is that there appears to be a huge gap between the top four of the league and the bottom four of the league.
-1. BUCKNELL. The Bison have definitely been the class of the league for the past two years. They were unbeaten in conference play a year ago, won the Patriot League Tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. They also spent some time in the top 25 last year. Replacing Charles Lee (last years Patriot League player of the year) and Kevin Bettincourt will be a challenge, but this team is so well balanced and so strong in all areas that it should be a smooth transition. Three starters are back in center Chris McNaughton, who is a great scorer and rebounder, guard Abe Badmus and forward Darren Mastropaolo. If they have any weaknesses it is the lack of experience on the perimeter, but they certainly appear to be the best in the Patriot again this year and could make another splash on the national scene as well.
-2. LEHIGH. The Mountainhawks had a great year last year where the only conferences losses they suffered came to either Holy Cross or Bucknell. This year, they have three starters returning, including guard Jose Olivero, who is one of the best players in the entire conference. He averaged over 17ppg last year and was phenomenal from beyond the arc. Guard Kyle Neptune is another big contributor. If this team has a weakness it is their inside game and that could be problematic when they take on other teams who are strong underneath such as Bucknell and Holy Cross, but they are very talented out on the perimeter and should be able to ride that to a successful season.
-3. HOLY CROSS. The Crusaders have been very successful recently and are coming off another 20+ win season. This is a team that takes care of the ball, passes well, and shoots well from the floor. Guard Keith Simmons is a good shooter and passer. Guard Torey Thomas is a great shooter and defender as well. They also have a good center in Tim Clifford who led the league in blocked shots last year despite coming off the bench. Keeping up with Bucknell wont be easy, but it is possible.
-4. AMERICAN. The Eagles could really be a dark horse in this league. They got off to a sluggish start last year, but finished strong by winning four out of five before falling to Bucknell in the conference tournament. They have all five starters coming back as well as all the contributors coming off the bench. They have a very balanced offensive attack and are effective from all aspects. Guard Andre Ingram led the team in scoring last year, but he isnt the only one who can put points on the board for the Eagles.
-5. COLGATE. The Red Raiders were just 4-10 in conference play last year, but they do have an experienced team and if they can stay healthy they should be able to improve on that. Kyle Roemer is their top returning player. He averaged 11.4 ppg last year and is a good outside shooter. Dave Waddy, a transfer from Saint Marys, could also give them some help at the guard position.
-6. LAFAYETTE. An interesting note about the Leopards is that this is the first season they have awarded athletic scholarships to basketball players. They do have a highly touted big man coming in in Marek Koltun and they will look to him to contribute right away. They depend on their guard play a lot as well.
-7. NAVY. The service academies are traditionally at the bottom of this league, but this year Navy doesnt look quite as bad as Army. They are effective on the offensive side of the ball and have some guys that can score, but dont seem to be too good at stopping the other team from scoring. Guard Greg Spink is their top player. He leads the team in scoring, is a good defender and can shoot from the outside. Kaleo Kina is another good outside shooters. Navy needs to improve their defense if they want to win though.
-8. ARMY. The Cadets won just one conference game and five games total last season. They have been consistently bad for a long time and arent likely to improve all that much this year. They do have two pretty strong guards in Matt Bell and Jarell Brown, but arent strong at all underneath and thats what really hurts them.
RANDOM ORDER OF FINISH
-For those that missed my first blog entry, each conference preview will also include a random order of finish. It sounds just like what it is. Teams are drawn at random and placed in order. The purpose for this is to demonstrate that at the end of the season, generally every single major and minor media preseason preview (including my own) isnt all that more accurate than simply randomly picking the teams.
6. Holy Cross
-Please feel free to send me feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org, whether its good or bad. Some conferences are harder to research and write about than other conferences, so every comment and critique helps so long as its constructive.
Highlighted Games for Sat 2/17: Bracket Buster Edt
Feb 16, 2007, 09:16 pm
Drew Barnette runs down one of the biggest Saturdays of the college basketball regular season. With the Bracket Buster teams being played today, read about who is on the bubble and could really improve their NCAA Tournament resumes with quality wins today. Also read about teams who are favored to win their conference tournaments, and who are facing each other in games that will have an impact on their seeding, and possibly put them in a better position to pull a big upset.
Other big games include Louisville looking for their second big road win in a row as they travel to Marquette, Vanderbilt plays one of their biggest home games of the year as they host Floirda, Georgetown and Villanova Square off in an important Big East showdown,
All that, and much more in a huge Saturday for college hoops...
Mid Major Ramblings on the Eve of the Buster
Feb 16, 2007, 01:20 am
Drew Barnette gives his thoughts and opinions about the upcoming Bracket Buster, talks about how he feels mid-majors are viewed by the media today, looks at tonight's big game between Winthrop and Missouri State, and more...