Oct. 22, 2015
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Lehigh and Bucknell took all of the first-place votes as the Mountain Hawks came in just ahead of the Bison in the Patriot League Men's Basketball preseason poll announced at the sport's Media Day at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks on Thursday.
The Mountain Hawks came in first place with 156 points and 12 first-place votes, while the Bison were not far behind with 150 points and the remaining eight first-place nods. Boston University followed in third place with 126 points and Army West Point came in fourth with 108 while last year's participants in the Patriot League Championship, American and Lafayette, were next with 84 and 82 points. Loyola University Maryland (73), Holy Cross (50), Colgate (36) and Navy (35) completed the poll order.
Lehigh junior forward/center Tim Kempton earned the Preseason Player of the Year award after receiving the honor following the 2014-15 season. Kempton was joined on the Preseason All-League Team by Boston University junior guard Cedric Hankerson, Bucknell senior guard Chris Hass, Lafayette junior guard Nick Lindner and American senior guard Jesse Reed.
Lehigh (16-14, 10-8 Patriot League) returns the majority of the roster from a team that finished third in the Patriot League last season. Kempton was named Player of the Year as he averaged 15.3 points per game and led the Patriot League with 8.7 rebounds per contest, while sophomore guard Kahron Ross (10.4 ppg, 5.8 apg) earned the League's Rookie of the Year honor and led all players with 175 assists. Junior guard Austin Price scored in double figures with 11.4 points per game, while seniors Justin Goldsborough (7.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Jesse Chuku (5.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg) will join Kempton at forward spots as Lehigh's top five scorers are all back in the lineup.
Bucknell (19-15, 13-5 PL) won the Patriot League regular-season title last season and advanced to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), and the Bison have key contributors back to build on the success. Hass (16.0 ppg) was a first-team All-League honoree, while Nana Foulland (10.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) was a force in the paint as a freshman. Sophomore Zach Thomas (7.5 ppg), senior Ryan Frazier (5.5 ppg) and junior John Azzinaro (5.4 ppg) give Bucknell its top three and five of its top six scorers back.
No team returns more of last year's roster than Boston University (13-17, 9-9 PL), with all 13 players who saw action in 2014-15 back on the court. That group is led by Hankerson (15.9), with fellow junior guard Eric Fanning (12.3 ppg) also averaging in double figures. Nathan Dieudonne (9.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg), John Papale (9.2 ppg, 3.4 apg) and Justin Alston (8.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg) are senior leaders for the squad, while Cheddi Mosely (8.6 ppg) comes off an impressive freshman campaign.
Army West Point (15-15, 6-12 PL) looks for a bounce-back season as its core group of contributors enters its senior year. Kyle Wilson (17.5 ppg) led the Patriot League in scoring last season while Tanner Plomb (15.8 ppg) was not far behind, with each player earning All-League honors following the year. Dylan Cox (10.1 ppg, 4.7 apg) has three years of experience as the starting point guard while Kevin Ferguson (9.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) has been one of the Patriot League's top shot-blockers. Larry Toomey (5.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg) completes the quintet of returning senior starters.
American (17-16, 8-10 PL) came just shy of a repeat League title as it lost by two points at Lafayette. To make another run, the Eagles will have to replace some key players including point guard Pee Wee Gardner and forward John Schoof. The Eagles have their leading scorer back as Reed averaged 14.3 points and 5.0 rebounds last year to earn third-team All-League status. Junior guard/forward Charlie Jones (8.0 ppg) and fellow senior Marko Vasic (5.7) also return.
A veteran team led Lafayette (20-13, 9-9 PL) to its first Patriot League title since 2000 and third in school history in 2014-15, but the Leopards will have to make up for some key losses as Dan Trist, Seth Hinrichs and Joey Ptasinski combined to average nearly 40 points per game as seniors a year ago. Lindner (12.5 ppg, 5.2 apg) returns after earning third-team All-League honors last season and then excelling in the Patriot League Tournament to earn the Most Valuable Player award in Lafayette's title run. He'll be joined in the backcourt by senior Bryce Scott (8.3 ppg) while the Leopards will look to a group including junior Monty Boykins (4.7 ppg), senior Zach Rufer (3.1 ppg) and sophomore Matt Klinewski (3.1 ppg) to contribute in 2015-16.
Loyola (11-19, 7-11 PL) looks to make a move up the standings in its third season in the Patriot League, and could have the pieces in place to do it with the top five scorers returning from last year. Seniors Eric Laster (10.9 ppg), Tyler Hubbard (10.8 ppg) and Franz Rassman (8.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) provide veteran leadership while Andre Walker (10.2 ppg) and Cam Gregory (6.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) both come off strong freshman campaigns. Jarred Jones also returns to the lineup as the junior played in only two games last season after finishing with 8.6 ppg and 4.5 rpg in 2013-14.
Holy Cross (14-16, 8-10 PL) has a new head coach as Bill Carmody takes over with 17 seasons of experience at Princeton and Northwestern. Carmody's first task will be replacing the team's top two scorers, Malcolm Miller and Justin Burrell, who combined to average 24.2 points per game as seniors. Juniors Malachi Alexander (8.4 ppg) and Anthony Thompson (5.9 ppg) and seniors Cullen Hamilton (6.6 ppg) and Eric Green (6.5 ppg) have experience among the returning players.
Colgate (16-17, 12-6 PL) had a breakthrough season in 2014-15, but to do it again the Raiders will have to replace the senior core of Damon Sherman-Newsome, Ethan Jacobs, Luke Roh and Matt McMullen that accounted for 46.6 of the team's 66.0 points per game. Five of the top six scorers are gone, but Austin Tillotson (10.7 ppg) returns for his senior season at point guard.
Navy (13-19, 8-10 PL) has to replace its top two scorers with Worth Smith and Brandon Venturini gone after averaging 14.5 and 12.0 points last season. The top returning scorer is senior guard Tilman Dunbar (9.1 ppg), who also led the way with 3.3 assists per game. Will Kelly (6.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg) led the Patriot League with 57 blocked shots last season. Juniors Edward Alade (5.3 ppg) and Zach Fong (4.7 ppg), sophomore Shawn Anderson (4.3 ppg) and senior Kendall Knorr (4.2 ppg) also return for the Mids.
The 2015-16 men's basketball season tips off on Nov. 13 with all 10 Patriot League squads in action. The first League contests will be played on Dec. 30, with an 18-game slate for each team featuring a double round-robin format. The Patriot League Tournament begins on March 1, with the champion earning the Patriot League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2015-16 Patriot League Preseason Poll
1. Lehigh (12 first-place votes), 156 points
2. Bucknell (8), 150
3. Boston University, 126
4. Army West Point, 108
5. American, 84
6. Lafayette, 82
7. Loyola , 73
8. Holy Cross, 50
9. Colgate, 36
10. Navy 35
Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year: Lehigh junior forward/center Tim Kempton
Patriot League Preseason All-League Team
Boston University junior guard Cedric Hankerson
Bucknell senior guard Chris Hass
Lehigh junior forward/center Tim Kempton
Lafayette junior guard Nick Lindner
American senior guard Jesse Reed