The Patriot League has a new look this season as it expands to ten schools with the addition of Boston University and Loyola (Md.). Both will strengthen the league and at a time when the league has just experienced two teams with terrific individual talents. In fact, the Patriot League has never seen two top individual talents simultaneously that were on the level of Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum and Bucknell’s Mike Muscala. When Adonal Foyle was at Colgate, there wasn’t another player anywhere near the level of McCollum or Muscala.
While Bucknell and Lehigh got most of the attention the last few years, Lafayette has quietly made it to three of the last four league title games. The Leopards lose a lot with the departure of their leader in Tony Johnson, but Fran O’Hanlon’s club has a lot coming back and there’s every reason to think they should be in the mix again. Make no mistake: during the aforementioned stretch of prosperity for the league, Lafayette has been right there with Bucknell and Lehigh.
The timing for Boston University is perfect, as the Terriers are the favorites in their first year. The Terriers had a fine season in their last year in America East, but had to settle for a bid to the CIT since they were ineligible for the conference tournament. They will have the Patriot League’s best backcourt, and that will go a long way towards winning games here, although that’s not all as they return all of their starters and have talent, experience and continuity.
The league as a whole should continue to be on the upswing. While the league might not be as strong at the top this year as in the past few years, the bottom should continue to get better as most teams projected there are moving forward with rebuilding efforts. Matt Langel is moving Colgate forward, Ed DeChellis could be on the verge of a breakthrough with Navy and this should be just a temporary setback for American and Loyola as each sustains heavy personnel losses.
Predicted order of finish
Player of the Year: Cameron Ayers, Bucknell
Top Newcomer: Denzel Brito, Loyola (Md.)
Top Freshman: Tim Kempton, Lehigh
Cameron Ayers, Sr. G, Bucknell
Mackey McKnight, Sr. G, Lehigh
Dave Dudzinski, Sr. F-C, Holy Cross
Seth Hinrichs, Jr. G, Lafayette
D.J. Irving, Sr. G, Boston University
Two coaching changes took place after the season. Jeff Jones left American to become the head coach at Old Dominion, and the school hired Mike Brennan to take his place. Jimmy Patsos left Loyola (Md.) to take the head coaching job at Siena. The school hired former assistant G.G. Smith to take over.