Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 1.6.12

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Colgate's Matt Langel coaches his first Patriot League game on Saturday.
Colgate's Matt Langel coaches his first Patriot League game on Saturday.

Jan. 6, 2012

Patriot League All-Access
Patriot League Men's Basketball Midseason Report

Center Valley, Pa. - After nearly two months of games, the 2011-12 men's basketball season finally turns to the Patriot League schedule with all eight teams tipping off their League slate on Saturday.

The League openers pit Colgate at American at 2 p.m., Lehigh visiting Holy Cross at 3:30 p.m., Bucknell at Army at 4 p.m. and Lafayette heading to Navy at 7 p.m. All of the games will be available on Patriot League All-Access , which can be purchased for a small monthly fee.

The defending Patriot League champion Bison begin the season as the preseason favorite as selected by head coaches and sports information directors in the fall. Bucknell finished ahead of Lehigh, who was followed in order by Holy Cross, Lafayette, American, Colgate, Navy and Army.

The rotation of the League slate has changed, as American, Army, Holy Cross and Bucknell each try to win consecutive League openers. Three of Saturday's matchups were split last season, with the home team winning each of those games. That included Army becoming the only team to defeat Bucknell in Patriot League play with a 90-70 win at West Point on Jan. 29. The lone exception was American sweeping last year's matchups with Colgate.

Lehigh, Bucknell and American all enter Patriot League play with winning records, and each school also comes in on a winning note. The Mountain Hawks improved to 12-4 with an 82-55 trouncing of Maryland Eastern Shore and the Bison knocked off Dartmouth 67-59 on Tuesday to finish at 10-6 in non-League action. Each team carries its best-ever non-League win total into Patriot League action. American finished non-League play at 9-6 after stopping a four-game losing skid with a 70-61 win at Brown on Monday.

Army also enters on a high note after defeating Longwood 96-77 on Tuesday. The Black Knights are 7-8 overall, with a 6-2 record and four-game winning streak at Christl Arena. Holy Cross, Colgate, Lafayette and Navy all dropped their last contest before League action this week. The eight teams have a 57-62 overall record entering Patriot League action, with just one more non-League contest remaining during the season.

For a synopsis of each team during the non-League schedule, read the Patriot League Men's Basketball Midseason Report

Patriot League teams play 14-game League schedules, with the regular season concluding on Feb. 25. The Patriot League Tournament begins with the quarterfinals on Feb. 29, with the semifinals on March 3 and League Championship on March 7 at 7 p.m. Both semifinal contests and the Championship tilt will be available on CBS Sports Network, which will also carry 11 Patriot League games in the regular season beginning with the Army/Navy matchup on Jan. 14.

Patriot League Notebook

Catch it All on All-Access
To view nearly all of the Patriot League men's basketball contests, fans can purchase the Patriot League All-Access package for a monthly fee of $7.95. All-Access allows subscribers to see the live action of all available Patriot League basketball games as well as the archived content for past games. The cutting-edge technology takes viewers up close with multi-camera coverage. This marks the sixth season for Patriot League All-Access, which includes more than 100 men and women's basketball games and a variety of Patriot League Championship events. The Patriot League All-Access multimedia player has features that include expanded video navigation controls and advanced search functions. The on-page video player interface is compatible with Adobe Flash-enabled web browsers and offers a full-screen mode. To purchase the All-Access package, go to the multimedia tab at the top of the front page at

Lehigh's McCollum Ties Patriot League Weekly Award Record...
Setting records is nothing new for Lehigh junior C.J. McCollum, who became the first freshman to win the Patriot League Player of the Year trophy in 2010 while also tying a League record with nine Rookie of the Week awards in that season. On Tuesday, McCollum tied another mark by claiming his eighth career Patriot League Anaconda Player of the Week award. He becomes the fifth student-athlete to earn eight career Patriot League Anaconda Player of the Week awards, joining Colgate's Adonal Foyle (1994-97), Lafayette's Brian Ehlers (1996-00) and American's Garrison Carr (2005-09) and Vlad Moldoveanu (2009-11).

...Then Earns Another Spot in League Record Book
After earning the weekly award honor on Tuesday afternoon, McCollum added to his credentials in the evening by recording his 500th rebound. He became the 28th Patriot Leaguer to go over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. McCollum is up to 13th in League history with 1,626 points, and comes in at 504 rebounds. He is the third active Patriot Leaguer on the list, joining Navy's Jordan Sugars (1,160 points/561 rebounds) and Bucknell's Mike Muscala (1,040 points/544 rebounds). McCollum is second in the Patriot League and among the top 20 nationally with 19.9 points per game for the year, and also places in the top five in the League with 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest. His 2.4 steals per game lead the Patriot League and rank in the top 25 in Division I.

Top 10, Top 20 Scorers
While McCollum is in the top 20 among the nation's scorers, he is not leading the Patriot League as the League's biggest surprise is in the top 10 in scoring in Division I. After scoring just over 100 points total last season, American senior Charles Hinkle leads the Patriot League and is in the top 10 nationally with 20.6 points per game. Hinkle has scored in double figures in all but one of the Eagles' 15 games.

Bucknell's Muscala Enters Elite Company
Bucknell junior Mike Muscala still has more than a season and a half remaining in his collegiate career, but already the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year has joined one of the most exclusive lists in Patriot League history. Muscala notched his 1,000th point last week, and in doing so became the fourth player in Patriot League history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocks in his career. Colgate's Adonal Foyle (1994-97), Bucknell's Dan Bowen (1996-00) and Holy Cross' Tim Clifford (2004-08) are the only players to previously pull off the feat.

Nine Active 1,000-Point Scorers
Muscala became the 81st all-time and ninth active Patriot Leaguer with 1,000 points in his career. McCollum leads the active group and is 13th all-time with 1,626 points. He is followed on the list by Lafayette's Ryan Willen (1,228), Holy Cross' Devin Brown (1,217), Colgate's Yaw Gyawu (1,165), Lafayette's Jim Mower (1,161), Navy's Jordan Sugars (1,160), Army's Julian Simmons (1,078) and Holy Cross' R.J. Evans (1,049), with Muscala coming in at 1,040.

Another Junior Star Emerging
After winning the past two Patriot League Player of the Year awards, McCollum and Muscala are having an expected battle over bragging rights as the top junior in the conference. But a third wheel could be emerging into the conversation. Army junior Ella Ellis has scored at least 18 points in five consecutive games, with the Black Knights going 4-1 in those contests. He has finished in double figures in all 15 of Army's games this season, and stands third in the Patriot League with 17.9 points per game.

Pair of Patriot Leaguers Doing it All
Two Patriot League players are among the best in the nation at displaying their all-around game. McCollum and Navy sophomore J.J. Avila are two of only nine players in the country averaging 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest. McCollum adds a Patriot League-leading 2.4 steals per game to his total and is in the top five in the League in scoring (19.9), rebounding (6.1) and assists (3.4), while Avila is in the top five in the Patriot League in scoring (15.4), rebounds (6.7), steals (1.4) and field goal percentage (50.6).

Home Cooking
Patriot League teams are just under .500 for the season, with the success due in large part to an outstanding winning percentage at home. The eight League squads have combined to go 35-13 on their home courts, winning at a rate of 73%. American (6-0) and Lehigh (4-0) are both perfect on their home court, while Bucknell (6-1) and Holy Cross (4-1) have just one loss and Army (6-2) and Colgate (4-2) also boast winning home records. Army enters Patriot League play on a four-game home win streak to go with six-game runs at home for both American and Lehigh.

Patriot League Takes Care of Regional Foes
Every year the Patriot League schedule contains a healthy dose of games against teams from nearby conferences, and the eight League squads are finding success against their most common competitors in 2011-12. Patriot League teams played their most games against the Northeast Conference, and finished with a strong 17-9 mark against the NEC. Lehigh went 5-0 against NEC opponents, including becoming the only team to win at Wagner. The Patriot League concluded its season series with the America East with a 7-4 record. The Patriot League went 9-9 against the Ivy League to finish with a 33-22 record against its most-played foes. Patriot League teams won four games against St. Francis (Pa.) and Dartmouth and also combined for multiple wins against St. Francis (NY), Fairleigh Dickinson, Quinnipiac, Binghamton, Bryant, Cornell and Longwood.

Bucknell, Lehigh Lead Way in RPI Rating
Bucknell and Lehigh were picked in the top two places in the Patriot League preseason poll, and according to the Collegiate Basketball News RPI rating the pair stands as the best entering League play. Bucknell comes in at No. 92 in the RPI rating, while Lehigh is at No. 111. The best win belongs to American, who has the only victory over a top 50 opponent by beating St. Joseph's (No. 34) 66-60 on Dec. 4. Lehigh recorded a road victory at No. 75 Wagner as part of its school record 12 non-League victories.

0-2 Start Could Not Stop this Trio
Starting the season with an 0-2 record would not deter Lehigh, American or Bucknell as each squad has bounced back nicely from the slow start. The Mountain Hawks have won 12 of 14 games to record the best overall mark in the Patriot League at 12-4. Lehigh's only losses during that span came in overtime at Cornell on Dec. 3 and at a top 20 Michigan State team on Dec. 22 in a game that the Mountain Hawks led at halftime. Bucknell is at 10-6 and American has a 9-6 mark after starting the season at 0-2.

Patriot League on CBS Sports Network
The Patriot League returns to CBS Sports Network in 2012, with coverage that includes the Men's Basketball Championship game on March 7 at 7 p.m. In addition, CBS Sports Network will broadcast both semifinal games of the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament on March 3 at 2 and 4:30 p.m and 11 regular-season contests. Coverage starts on Jan. 14 when Army visits Navy in a doubleheader in Annapolis, with the men's game tipping off at 2:30 p.m. For the full schedule, view the sidebar on page three of the Patriot League men's basketball release.

Patriot League Games

Colgate Raiders (5-9, 0-0) at American Eagles (9-6, 0-0)
Bender Arena; Washington, D.C. - Saturday, 2 p.m.

Series: American, 20-4
Streak American, Two Wins Last Meeting American, 69-60 (2.12.11)
Last Colgate Win 75-74 (2OT) (2.13.2010) Last Five Games American, 4-1

Colgate and American begin their Patriot League season at Bender Arena on Saturday afternoon, and history says that could be a good thing for the Eagles...American has won 13 of the past 14 matchups in the series and has a perfect 12-0 mark against Colgate at home...The Eagles have also enjoyed the home court this season with a 6-0 record...American swept last year's series with a pair of nine-point victories...The Eagles are 20-3 against Colgate as a Patriot League member, including 17-3 in the regular season...American is trying to win its second straight League opener, while Colgate last claimed its opener in 2010...Colgate Head Coach Matt Langel is at the helm for his first Patriot League game, while American's Jeff Jones has led his team since it entered the Patriot League in 2001-02.

Colgate Colgate went back and forth with Columbia before the Lions went ahead for good with just over four minutes to play and came away with a 66-59 win in Hamilton on Wednesday...The Raiders missed a three-pointer to tie the score in the final minute and Columbia went 6-for-6 at the line down the stretch to seal the win...Pat Moore led Colgate with 18 points, while four other players added eight apiece...The Raiders have dropped four straight heading into Patriot League action...Four of their five wins have come by five points or less or in overtime.

American The Eagles put an end to a four-game losing skid and closed out their non-League schedule with a 70-61 victory at Brown on Monday... The Eagles led from start to finish, opening the game with an 11-2 run and going ahead by as many as 21 points in the second half before Brown came back to trim the final margin...The Bears got as close as four points at 59-55 with under two minutes to play, but Blake Jolivette answered with a basket for American to start a game-clinching 11-3 run...Charles Hinkle led the Eagles with 25 points and seven rebounds, while Daniel Munoz and Jolivette each scored 10 with Munoz adding seven assists...The Eagles are 6-0 at Bender Arena this season heading into Saturday's League opener.

Lehigh Mountain Hawks (12-4, 0-0) at Holy Cross Crusaders (6-8, 0-0)
Hart Center; Worcester, Mass. - Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Series: Holy Cross, 34-14
Streak Holy Cross, One Win Last Meeting Holy Cross 89, Lehigh 76 (2.26.11)
Last Lehigh Win 79-75 (OT) (1.29.2011) Last Five Games Lehigh, 3-2

Picked to finish second and third in the Patriot League, respectively, Lehigh and Holy Cross will stage a potentially key early battle when the Mountain Hawks visit the Crusaders on Saturday afternoon...The matchup had concluded the League slate in recent years, and Holy Cross capped the 2011 regular season with an 89-76 win at home against Lehigh...The Mountain Hawks had won the previous three meetings, including a 79-75 overtime win at home last season as the squads split the season series...Lehigh's win at Holy Cross in 2010 was its first since 1998, and the Crusaders have won 14 of the past 15 meetings with the Mountain Hawks in Worcester..Holy Cross won its season opener last year, while Lehigh dropped its first League contest in 2011...Holy Cross has a 34-14 edge in the all-time series, with all but one game played as Patriot League members.

Lehigh Lehigh had already set a high mark for non-League victories, and added another notch to the list with an 82-55 win over Maryland Eastern Shore on Tuesday to complete its non-League schedule with a 12-4 record...The Mountain Hawks took control with a 17-0 run midway through the first half and cruised to a 45-16 lead at the break on their way to the 27-point win...Lehigh led by as many as 36 points in the second half...C.J. McCollum scored 18 points, giving him 1,626 in his career, and pulled down seven rebounds to become the third active Patriot Leaguer and 28th of all-time with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.. Mackey McKnight had 12 points and six assists without a turnover.. Lehigh has won 12 of its past 14 games, and scored 70 points or more in all 16 of its non-League contests.

Holy Cross Holy Cross had its two-game winning streak snapped with an 82-67 loss at Yale on Tuesday..The Crusaders cut a 22-point deficit all the way down to four with 8:18 left, but Yale responded with a 14-4 run and led by double digits the rest of the way...R.J. Evans had a season-high 24 points to lead the Crusaders, while Devin Brown scored 22...Holy Cross has won four consecutive home games and five straight games played in Worcester entering Patriot League play.

Bucknell Bison (10-6, 0-0) at Army Black Knights (7-8, 0-0)
Christl Arena; West Point, N.Y. - Saturday, 4 p.m.

Series: Bucknell, 41-19
Streak Bucknell, Two Wins Last Meeting Bucknell, 78, Army 51 (3.2.11)
Last Army Win 90-70 (1.29.2011) Last Five Games Bucknell, 4-1

Bucknell begins defense of its Patriot League title at Army on Saturday at Christl Arena, the site of the Bison's only loss in League action last year...Bucknell went 13-1 in the Patriot League and went on to win its third title, but fell at Army 90-70 on Jan. 29 for its only loss...The Bison earned payback for that defeat already, beating Army 78-64 in the regular-season finale in Lewisburg and again less than a week later by a 78-51 score in the League Tournament quarterfinals on March 2...The Bison have won 10 straight games against Patriot League competition, and seven in the regular season, following the loss to the Black Knights...On the other hand, Army dropped its last seven regular-season contests as well as the tournament opener after the win over the Bison...The Bison have won four of the past five meetings between the schools, sweeping the season series in 2010...Army has claimed wins in four straight home games, and has a 6-2 mark at Christl Arena this season...Each team won its Patriot League opener last season...Bucknell has a 40-9 edge in games played as Patriot League members.

Bucknell Just three days after Holy Cross rallied from a double-digit deficit to win at Dartmouth, Bucknell did the same on Tuesday and came away with a 67-59 victory...The Bison trailed by eight points at halftime, but chipped away in the second half.. The deficit was down to four with just under eight minutes to play when Bucknell started a 15-0 surge to go ahead and pull away...Bryson Johnson put the Bison ahead for good on a three-pointer with 4:51 to play and the Bison led 60-49 with under three minutes to go when the run was complete...Mike Muscala led Bucknell with 18 points and eight rebounds, making all 10 of his free throw attempts...Joe Willman finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and a career-high six assists...Bucknell has 10 wins heading into Patriot League play for the first time ever, and it won its sixth game in a row against Ivy League competition...The Bison have won two straight and five of the past seven games entering Patriot League action.

Army Army recorded its highest point total against a Division I opponent since 2001 in a 96-77 win over Longwood on Tuesday...The Black Knights scored their top mark against a Division I foe in regulation since the 1987-88 campaign...The Black Knights had first half runs of 11-0 and 10-0 to take the lead before closing the period with 12 straight points to build a 51-30 halftime advantage.. Army led by as many as 27 points in the second half, with the lead never slipping below 17...Five players scored in double figures, led by Josh Herbeck with 19 and Ella Ellis with 18...Army won its fourth straight home game and improved to 6-2 at Christl Arena.

Lafayette Leopards (5-10, 0-0) at Navy Midshipmen (3-11, 0-0)
Alumni Hall; Annapolis, Md. - Saturday, 7 p.m.

Series: Navy, 41-26
Streak Navy, One Win Last Meeting Navy 57, Lafayette 52 (2.12.11)
Last Lafayette Win 76-73 (1.15.2011) Last Five Games Lafayette, 3-2

Two teams in search of a fresh start with the opening of Patriot League action meet in Annapolis on Saturday when Lafayette visits Navy...The Leopards have dropped three straight and five of the last six, while the Mids have lost seven straight entering League action...Navy earned a 57-52 win at home on Feb. 12 of last season as the teams split the season series...Lafayette had won the previous three contests, including a 76-73 victory in its home contest last year on Jan. 15...It is the first Patriot League contest for Navy Head Coach Ed DeChellis, while Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon begins his 17th Patriot League season with a 105-107 all-time League record...Navy has a 41-26 lead in the all-time series, though Lafayette holds a 22-21 edge as Patriot League members...Each team dropped its League opener last year, but won it in 2010.

Lafayette Despite strong games from seniors Ryan Willen and Jim Mower, Lafayette fell just short down the stretch in its 78-73 loss to Penn on Wednesday..The game featured 10 ties and 15 lead changes, with Penn going ahead for good with just over six minutes to go...Mower had a pair of shots to tie the score with the Leopards trailing by three in the final seconds, but was off the mark and Penn sealed the win at the line.. Mower led the way with 20 points, while Willen had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds...The Leopards have dropped three straight entering Patriot League action.

Navy The Mids could not hold halftime leads as they fell at home against Mercer on Friday and Norfolk State on Sunday... Navy gave up a late 10-2 run in the 65-56 loss to Mercer...The Mids got to within three points with 2:02 left before Mercer went on the run to put the game away...Jordan Sugars tied a season high with 21 points, while J.J. Avila had 16 points and seven rebounds...Navy could not hold a six-point halftime lead in a 71-65 loss to Norfolk State...The Mids fell behind for good midway through the second half, and could not convert on a trio of three-pointers in the final minute to tie or take the lead...Avila had 18 points and nine rebounds, while Worth Smith scored 13 and Sugars had 11...The Mids have lost seven straight games heading into their Patriot League opener against Lafayette on Saturday, but Avila has played at a high level during the stretch...The sophomore averaged 17.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in two games last week, and is averaging 19.0 points and 7.8 rebounds over the past five games...He is one of nine players nationally to average 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, and is just the second Navy sophomore with 500 points, 250 rebounds and 100 assists.