Oct. 24, 2013
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Boston University still has months to go before playing its first Patriot League game, but that didn't stop the Terriers from being named a unanimous favorite for the 2014 League title by coaches and sports information directors in the men's basketball preseason poll announced at the sport's Media Day on Thursday at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks.
Boston University picked up all 18 available first-place selections, as voters were not eligible to rank their own team. The Terriers totaled 162 points to come in front of second-place Lafayette, which totaled 130 points and two first-place votes.
Army (115), Bucknell (113) and Loyola University Maryland (109) were all closely grouped in the next three spots, and followed in order by Lehigh (93), Holy Cross (70), Colgate (49), American (36) and Navy (23).
The Terriers will also enter their first Patriot League season with the Preseason Player of the Year, as senior guard DJ Irving was given the honor by the poll voters. Irving was joined on the senior-laden Preseason All-Patriot League Team by Bucknell guard Cameron Ayers, Loyola Maryland guard Dylon Cormier, Lehigh guard Mackey McKnight and Holy Cross forward Dave Dudzinski.
Boston University (17-13, 11-5 America East in 2012-13) came on strong at the end of last season with nine wins in its last 12 games, and has a chance to maintain the momentum with nearly all of its key pieces back. Irving leads the way after averaging 14.2 points and 3.6 assists per game to earn first-team America East recognition last year. Senior forward Dom Morris was a third-team America East pick with 11.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while sophomore guard Maurice Watson Jr. had 11.2 points and 5.4 assists per game to join Morris on the third team.
Lafayette (19-15, 10-4 PL) finished as the Patriot League runner-up for the third time in four seasons in 2013, and will try to get back to the title game despite losing first-team All-Patriot League point guard Tony Johnson. Seth Hinrichs (14.5 ppg) was the team's leading scorer last season while Dan Trist (12.4 ppg), Joey Ptasinski (9.6 ppg) and Bryce Scott (8.2 ppg) are also back for a team that won seven straight games before falling to Bucknell in the League title contest.
Coming off its first-ever winning Patriot League record, Army (16-15, 8-6 PL) looks to take the next step behind its deep sophomore class. Kyle Wilson (13.0 ppg) was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year while Dylan Cox (5.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Kevin Ferguson (3.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Larry Toomey (6.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg) all emerged as key contributors. The Black Knights have the veteran leadership of Josh Herbeck (7.9 ppg), though they take a hit with the loss of first-team All-Patriot Leaguer Ella Ellis.
It will be a new look for defending Patriot League champion Bucknell (28-6, 12-2 PL), which lost NBA Draft pick Mike Muscala as well as Joe Willman and Bryson Johnson from a senior class which won two Patriot League Tournament titles and three consecutive regular-season crowns. The Bison do bring back one very important piece in Ayers (12.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg), who finished second on the team in scoring last year. No other returning player averaged more than three points per game last year, though Ryan Frazier, Steven Kaspar and Ryan Hill shared the point guard position while Brian Fitzpatrick and Dom Hoffman saw time in the frontcourt.
Loyola Maryland (23-12, 12-6 MAAC) enters its Patriot League era with a new coach, as G.G. Smith moves up from his assistant's role. The Greyhounds also have to replace three of their top four scorers, but Cormier (16.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg) is back after leading the team in scoring last season. RJ Williams (4.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) enters his junior season after playing in only 17 games last year.
Lehigh (21-10, 10-4 PL) starts the season with more focus on what is lost than what returns, with CJ McCollum now a Portland Trail Blazer after being selected in the NBA Draft lottery while Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner continue their careers overseas. The three players led Lehigh in scoring last year, though that cupboard is not bare with McKnight (11.9 ppg, 4.9 apg) returning to the court. The senior guard led the Patriot League in assists last season, and will look to dish off to long-range shooters Anthony D'Orazio (6.4 ppg), Stefan Cvrklaj (4.7 ppg) and Corey Schaefer (4.6 ppg).
Holy Cross (12-18, 4-10 PL) comes off a tough season, but has reason for optimism with key players back. Dudzinski (15.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg) led the team in both scoring and rebounding, while 2012 Patriot League Rookie of the Year Justin Burrell (12.1 ppg, 3.7 apg) will have the keys to the offense at point guard once again. Cullen Hamilton (6.3 ppg) and Malcolm Miller (5.7) provide additional scoring options.
Colgate (11-21, 5-9 PL) had its best Patriot League finish since 2009 with a tie for fifth place last year, and has its All-Patriot League honoree and top scorer back in Murphy Burnatowski (17.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Second-leading scorer Pat Moore (9.8 ppg) also returns to the court, while Luke Roh (4.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.5 apg) finished in the top six in the Patriot League in both rebounds and assists last season.
For American (10-20, 5-9 PL), first-year Head Coach Mike Brennan will be tasked with replacing the team's top two scorers with Stephen Lumpkins and Daniel Munoz both gone. The Eagles do have experience back with John Schoof (9.6 ppg) and Tony Wroblicky (7.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg).
Navy (8-23, 2-12 PL) looks to take a step forward after a very young roster gained experience last season. There are still only two seniors on the roster, with juniors Worth Smith (10.2 ppg) and Brandon Venturini (8.8 ppg) and sophomore Tilman Dunbar (9.5 ppg, 4.9 apg) back after leading the team in scoring last season.
The men's basketball season begins on Nov. 8, with the 18-game Patriot League schedules opening up for all teams on Jan. 2. The Patriot League Tournament will include all teams and be played entirely at home sites, and concludes with the championship on March 12 at 7:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
2013-14 Patriot League Preseason Poll
1. Boston University (18 first-place votes), 162 points
2. Lafayette (2), 130
3. Army, 115
4. Bucknell, 113
5. Loyola Maryland , 109
6. Lehigh, 93
7. Holy Cross, 70
8. Colgate, 49
9. American, 36
10. Navy 23
Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year
Boston University senior guard DJ Irving
Patriot League Preseason All-League Team
Bucknell senior guard Cameron Ayers
Loyola Maryland senior guard Dylon Cormier
Holy Cross senior forward Dave Dudzinski
Boston University senior guard DJ Irving
Lehigh senior guard Mackey McKnight