This upcoming season, Big Apple Buckets looks to expand our mid-major basketball coverage to the Patriot League. With three schools now within a 40 minute drive of my home in Maryland, it would be foolish of me not to cover the league! I kept tabs last season, especially at nearby Navy and American, but our website wasn’t fully invested in what has turned into a solid mid-major basketball conference.
So for my first exercise, I give you my “way too early” predictions on the 2013-14 preseason All-Patriot League teams. With lots of senior talent moving on – Mike Muscala, C.J. McCollum, Ella Ellis, just to name a few – and two new teams in the fold, formulating these all-conference teams wasn’t an easy task. Here goes nothing…
PG: Mackey McKnight, Lehigh
G: D.J. Irving, Boston University
G: Dylon Cormier, Loyola (MD)
G: Cameron Ayers, Bucknell
F: Dave Dudzinski, Holy Cross
With a fantastic trio of seniors gone in Bethlehem, how will Mackey McKnight handle the extra defensive attention? It may take an adjustment early on, but I’m confident McKnight’s explosive first step and playmaking abilities will inevitably shine through in his senior season. D.J. Irving’s first season off the ball produced another excellent offensive campaign, but it was his climbing steal percentage which may have been his most impressive feat. As part of the best backcourt in the Patriot League, look for Irving to challenge for POY honors. Lost in the fantastic senior season of Mike Muscala was how good Cameron Ayers performed for Dave Paulsen’s squad. Check out these fantastic KenPom numbers from last season – an 116.9 offensive rating, 54.7% effective FG%, and a 12% turnover rate. It’ll get a little more difficult for Ayers without Moose in the middle, yet the senior is the biggest no-brainer of this first team list. One look at Dylon Cormier’s shooting percentages, and you may come away unimpressed. Cormier’s value extends beyond that – just ask the MAAC coaches last year when they voted Cormier onto the All-MAAC first team - as the guard is the heart and sole of a Greyhound attack that’ll be led by new head coach G.G. Smith. It seems wrong to leave Murphy Burnatowski off the first team, but I’ll take Dave Dudzinski’s efficiency over Burnatowski’s versatility. If the 6’9″ Dudzinski can lower his defensive foul rate, his already terrific numbers (15.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg) may improve even more in what could turn out to be a pivotal season for Milan Brown.
PG: Maurice Watson, Jr., Boston University
G: Seth Henrichs, Lafayette
G: Kyle Wilson, Army
F: Murphy Burnatowski, Colgate
F: Dom Morris, Boston University
Boston University will likely be favored to win the Patriot League, so it’s only fitting to select three Terriers for my two fictitious all-conference teams. In his rookie season, Maurice Watson, Jr. established himself as perhaps the best point guard in the America East conference. Most point guards make that significant jump as a sophomore, so if the lightning quick Watson demonstrates that, he’s a first teamer at season’s end. His teammate, Dom Morris, also improved leaps and bounds for Joe Jones, but it’ll be interesting to see how the undersized, yet physically gifted Morris does in the Patriot League. Last year, Seth Henrichs spearheaded a Lafayette attack that won 14 of their final 19 games. The sharpshooting sophomore not only led the conference in three-pointers made, but nearly cracked the KenPom top 100 in effective FG%. I expect more of the same for his junior season. Murphy Burnatowski has a high ceiling, with an ability to average 20+ points per game for Colgate. If he can become a little less three-point happy, and attack the rim more often than not, then the sky’s the limit. Finally, I felt inclined to include a Black Knight on the second team, since Zach Spiker’s squad should be projected as a top four Patriot League program this preseason. This is far from a pity pick, however, as Kyle Wilson certainly has the upside to prosper. The reigning Patriot League ROY is expected to lead a rising Army squad to new heights.
Also Considered: Dan Trist, Lafayette, Tilman Dunbar, Navy
Do you disagree with my selections? Feel free to let me know in the comments section!
A special thanks to Kevin Doyle (@KLDoyle11) of NBC Sports College Basketball Talk for giving me his thoughts regarding these two all-conference teams! He’s a must follow on Twitter for any college basketball fan.
Ryan Peters covers mid-major college basketball for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride