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Patriot League Season Preview: Colgate looks to remain class of league

The Raiders will face stiff competition from Lehigh, American and Holy Cross among others

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at St. John
Keegan Records has been a three-year starter for Colgate and posted a career-high 13.0 points per game last season.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriot League has belonged to Matt Langel and Colgate over the past few years. The Raiders have earned each of the last four automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament out of the league.

However, there are a few new coaches and plenty of talented teams that are looking to pry that title away from them.

American (Duane Simpkins), Army (Kevin Kuwik), Bucknell (John Griffin III), Holy Cross (Dave Paulsen) and Lafayette (Mike McGarvey) all have new coaches at the helm.

Preseason Honors

Player of the Year: Keegan Records, Colgate

Defensive Player of the Year: Keegan Records, Colgate

All-Patriot League Team

  • Keegan Records, Colgate
  • Matt Rogers, American
  • Ryan Moffatt, Colgate
  • Keith Higgins Jr., Lehigh
  • Tyler Whitney-Sidney, Lehigh

The Teams

1. Colgate, 162 (18)

The Raiders are the face of the league with their insanely efficient 3-point shooting, which has garnered national recognition over the past few years. It seems that there is just an endless supply of elite contributors ready to step up and shoot at a high level.

Keegan Records is the center of attention in the middle, with his dominant two-way play, but the supporting cast is just as important to Colgate’s success. Braeden Smith averaged 12-4-4 as a freshman on nearly 60% true shooting and is ready to explode as a sophomore. Ryan Moffatt shot 45% from three last year, boasting the 12th-highest offensive rating in the country.

Chandler Baker and Nicholas Louis-Jacques provided elite shooting in spurts. They will have to take a step up to replace Oliver Lynch-Daniels and Tucker Richardson. Finally, Jeff Woodward’s high post playmaking and efficient inside scoring will prove beneficial to pair with Records.

2. Lehigh, 127 (2)

The success of year 17 for Brett Reed will depend on juniors Tyler Whitney-Sidney and Keith Higgins Jr. They each averaged over 13.5 points per game last year. They’ll need to provide even more scoring with Evan Taylor (14.2 ppg) out of the picture.

Whitney-Sidney is best off the ball in the half-court, cutting off screens and scoring in the lane. Higgins on the other hand is an on-ball threat, who can carve defenses up off the dribble and in the pick-and-roll. However, neither of the two star guards are true point guard.

The playmaking burden falls on Jalin Sinclair and Ben Knostman. Dominic Parolin averaged 11 and 5 on 60% shooting in the last 12 games for Lehigh, adding an additional interior element to the offense.

3. American, 116

American returns four of its top five scorers from a roster that finished with a winning record last year. The squad will be under the direction of first-year head coach Duane Simpkins, who took over for Mike Brennan.

The Eagles are led on the court by preseason All-Patriot selection Matt Rogers, who averaged 14.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG last season. American also has a talented backcourt that features the Elijah Stephens, Geoff Sprouse and Colin Smalls.

4. Holy Cross, 100

Dave Paulsen won the Patriot League regular season title in four of his final five seasons at the helm of Bucknell, and he returns to the head coaching ranks with the Crusaders of Holy Cross.

Paulsen has the luxury of returning three double-digit scorers from last year’s team in Will Batchelder, Joe Octave, and Bo Montgomery. While the team doesn’t have the rebounding that Gerrale Gates provided, Paulsen is hoping Louth-M Coulibaly and Michael Rabinovich can help his team on the glass.

5. Boston University, 90

Boston University is one of the few teams in the league to use the transfer portal in the offseason by adding Ethan Okwuosa and Ben Palacios from the Division II ranks. They will play alongside senior Miles Brewster and freshman Kyrone Alexander in an exciting Terrier backcourt. BU should rebound at a high level, not just with Otto Landrum and Malcolm Chimezie returning in the frontcourt, but the guards are excellent on the boards as well.

6. Loyola Maryland, 79

Loyola Maryland has one of the most daunting and experienced frontcourt in the conference. The Greyhounds boast four projected rotational players at 6 foot, 10 inches, including Golden DIke and Alonso Faure. Deon Perry will have an expanded role in the backcourt while Chris Kuzemka is expected to take a major step forward.

T-7. Lafayette, 74

Losing three double-digit scorers, all of whom transferred up, is a difficult pill to swallow for Mike McGarvey’s first season in Easton. Shooting will likely be hard to come by for this unit, as Jon Brantley, TJ Berger and Kyle Jenkins all haven’t shot particularly well at the college level.

Jenkins and Justin Vander Baan are expected to form a solid frontcourt, but a lot relies on how Luka Savicevic steps into his role as the point guard. Ryan Pettit and freshman Mark Butler will also provide options at the point.

T-7. Navy, 74

The Midshipmen return just two players that played over 10 minutes per game last year in guards Austin Inge and Austin Benigni. It’ll likely have to be the Austin and Austin show in the backcourt.

Mac MacDonald and Kam Summers should both provide some shooting aid. Much of Navy’s success last year was fueled by the 3-point shot, but almost all of the top shooters are now out of the mix.

9. Bucknell, 50

New head coach John Griffin III has to deal with the departure of the three top scorers from last year’s group. Nevertheless, a lineup featuring Jack Forrest, Ian Motta, Elvin Edmonds IV and Ruot Bijek is expected to shoot the ball really well and push the tempo.

10. Army West Point, 28

Army raised a lot of eyebrows when it decided to fire Jimmy Allen after last season, in which the Black Knights finished fourth in the Patriot League. His departure certainly left a mess for new coach Kevin Kuwik. All four double-digit scorers from last year are no longer with the program, including two-time All-Patriot League selection Jalen Rucker.

Army’s roster is almost entirely unproven with senior big man Charlie Peterson being the most decorated of the bunch. There is a plethora of guards that could make an impact, including TJ Small, Jared Cross and Isaiah Caldwell. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of freshman Josh Scovens.