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CoBL College Preview: Patriot League Coaches' Thoughts

10/29/2015, 9:01am EDT
By Josh Verlin

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
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(Ed. Note: This article is part of CoBL's 2015-16 College Season Preview, which will run from October 2-November 13, the first day of games. For the complete rundown, click here)

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While head coaches are obviously responsible for the ultimate game-planning decisions during the college basketball season, it’s the assistant coaches who do the advanced scouting and prep for much of the teams throughout the country.

So CoBL decided the best way to get to know each league we cover is to talk to the various assistants that work in those conferences.

Here are several anonymous assistant coaches’ thoughts on the Patriot League; for a breakdown of the league, click here:

American Eagles
Jesse Reed is very good. They’ve got a couple of good freshmen coming in, I believe. The Princeton stuff is always hard to guard, it’ll be interesting to see who plays the ‘5’ spot for them or if they decide to go with an undersized lineup all year like they did at the end of the year last year. …Losing their point guard (Darius Gardner) will make it tough, and (John) Schoof, losing those two guys is really hard. The way they play, they’ll be able to compete. If the finish fifth I’m not surprised, if they finish ninth I’m not surprised. … I think their biggest strength is their offensive system. To be in the championship game the last two years, Mike Brennan has done a great job. And I think Jesse Reed is one of the top three or four players in the league. I think they’ll be very good. …The one thing about American, everybody’s going to look at how they lose their top scorers and minute-getters except for Reed, but the one thing that’s been consistent with Brennan is how tough they’ve been on defense.”

Army Black Knights
“Some of those guys probably feel like they’ve been in the league for a really long time because they’ve had their core group of guys together for the whole entire time. With the amount of games they played together, the experience will be in their favor, they would just need to get on the same page and in the right direction. … I think they underachieved in a major way last year, and I don’t expect that to happen again. I think they’ve got a senior group and two of the best wings in the league with Kyle Wilson and Tanner Plomb. They also run a great offensive system that is hard to guard. I think they’ll be in the mix at the top of the league in February. ...They still have the same group back from when they were pretty good two years ago; last year they struggled a little bit but I would expect them to be right back where they should be with Kyle Wilson and Tanner Plomb, two really good players. …I know they finished 10th but they’ve got everyone back and they’re tough and gritty. The kid Wilson is really, really good, I think they’ll be towards the top of the pack. …”

Boston University Terriers
“Probably the fastest and most athletic, and a lot of it depends on the kid who tore his ACL in the spring (Cedric Hankerson). Is he back, is he healthy? Cheddi Mosely was all-rookie last year, he’s back, (John) Papale’s still there. ...Probably one of the most physical, most athletic teams in the league. With Hankerson, they’re a much different team than without. With Hankerson and Eric Fanning, they have two guys that are really explosive and really good scorers. Their size makes them a matchup problem. ...They’ll be tough. Obviously they bring everybody back, the fact that Cedric Hankerson is out for a while will be interesting to see who else steps up. Obviously Eric Fanning is a very good player who came off the bench a lot for them last year, but he’s very capable of being a starter in this league. …Their perimeter is terrific, they have two really athletic forwards that rebound the heck out of it. And they have everybody back, so I expect them to finish higher than last year.”

Bucknell Bison
“They’ll be interesting, obviously they have the talent to be very good with Chris Hass and Nana Foulland, those are two of the top players in the league in my opinion, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of offense they’re running and defense they choose to play with the new coach. With a new coach comes some question marks, but they definitely have the talent to be at the very top of the league. ...They’ve had a very good tradition with them in the last five or six years with the success they’ve had in the league and non-conference and NCAA Tournament. I think they bring back two of the better players in the league in Hass and Nana. Then the rest of that freshman class they had last year, I think, really exceeded expectations. … It’s going to be all about how their players adjust to a new coaching style and new philosophies. If you look at their talent on paper, they’re as talented as anyone in the league. …I don’t know, because of the coaching change, how good they’ll be. Losing J.C. Show, I don’t think it was a huge deal but that was a bit of a loss. Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas are really good, and Hass might be the best player in the league."

Colgate Raiders
“They’re rebuilding, losing four out of five starters. I think they were as well-coached as anyone in the league, and I think they were good but--and I mean this in a good way--they were overachievers last year. They got every ounce of everything out of their players last year. ...They lost a bunch of guys, I think they almost lost everybody except Austin Tillotson, so obviously he’s going to have to carry a lot of the load. But it gives opportunities for some new guys to step up. They’ll have somewhat of a rebuilding year this year, I don’t really expect them to compete for a championship but it’ll give some of the younger guys some good experience. …They’re a team going from being one of the most experienced in the entire country, let alone our conference to now losing so much. They’ll be relying a lot on new faces and how they adjust. … They’re kind of the one team you don’t know. They have a really good point guard, but the rest of their roster is just so young.”

Holy Cross Crusaders
“New coach at Holy Cross, they don’t have great players that fit the Princeton style offense that coach Carmody runs, but I’m sure they’ll make it work. They’re starting to recruit players who work better in the Princeton stuff but it might take a few years to transition. They were so uptempo and in-your-face the last few years, it’ll be interesting with the change of style with the players that they have …Their team is going to be an interesting one, because I think it’s going to be such a drastic change in playing styles from what they did before. It’s going from an up-tempo and pressing style to more of a half-court Princeton offense. … They’ve got some kids that were recruited that may not be great fits for the Princeton stuff right away. But that’s another program, once it gets going, there’s no reason to think they won’t be really hard to guard. ...Expect the pace to be a little bit different. I think they have tons of question marks in terms of who's going to be a leader for them on the court."

Lafayette Leopards
“Lost a lot obviously, graduated three 1,000-point scorers but Nick Lindner is one of the top point guards in the league and he’s as good as anybody else in terms of running his team and willing their way to victory. I don’t count out Lafayette. …Lost a lot of good players but they’re still really good offensively, they’re hard to guard. Lindner’s probably the toughest guy in the league, actually I would say he is the toughest guy in the league. ...They lost a lot, but have one of the best guards in the league in Lindner. They have some other pieces that will be able to expand in bigger roles. ...Everything's going to go through Lindner. Defensively, they've always struggled but it hasn't affected them because of how great their offense has been. I think if they can find some pieces that can really complement Nick and be able to score the basketball, they're going to be competing as well."

Lehigh Mountain Hawks
“Lehigh has the best 1-2 combo in Kahron Ross and Tim Kempton. One kid’s out for the year (Brandon Alston), so as long as the other guys, Austin Price and Jesse Chuku and Justin Goldsborough, as long as they’re just being solid, they’re going to be so hard to beat. ...Everybody says that Kempton is the best post player in the league, so the ball is going to run through him. They've got dynamic guards that are really athletic, so their pace of play is going to be very fast, which the Patriot League typically struggles with. ...They’ve shown how talented they are especially in their system. Even with the Player of the Year and the Rookie of the Year, with the rest of their returning guys they have, I think it’s a really group of young players who will be able to grow together. … They’re the pick to win the league and justifiably so, based on their talent level. Their overall talent level, I think it’s the best in the league right now.”

Loyola Greyhounds
“They’ll be tough, I think some people are underestimating them a little bit. They bring almost everybody back, they’ve got some guys who can get going between Andre Walker and Tyler Hubbard, Eric Laster’s a good player and their bigs are pretty good. I would expect them to be in the top five in the league rather than bottom half. ...They’re a team that is probably starting to figure themselves out better now. They’ve been able to bring some guys in the last couple of classes that fit their system, and I think this is a team that really plays to their style. So you’re going to have to adjust to that. … As one of the most veteran teams, that's always been a key factor towards success in this league. While they haven't performed great the last couple of seasons, they're older and their experienced. They're a threat. . …I put them in the same category as Army, because they have a lot of their guys back. Walker’s a tough-as-nails point guard, really strong, really fast, he’s going to be one of the better point guards in the league.”

Navy Midshipmen
“What they do well is playing with toughness and physicality. It’s seeing what guys will step up for them and fill some of those scoring pieces they lost. …Will Kelly and Ed Alade, those are two really good big kids in the league who have a lot of experience. And I think it will be about how the rest of their guys will fit in. ...I think the Naval Academy will come into the Patriot League season pissed off that they're in 10th place preseason, they've shown they can be competitive and compete. They're one of the more talented Navy teams from top to bottom in the last few years. ...Lost their two very good players, I think Worth Smith was by the end of the year maybe one of the best players in the league, he was incredibly difficult to guard, and their other guard, Brandon Venturini, was very good as well. Tilman Dunbar is a good player and can get them going but they’ll need their bigs to really step up."


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