CBB: Patriot League gets ready to rumble

Isaiah Roberts (Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE)

Navy basketball is about to hit its conference schedule. Here's a look around the Patriot League courtesy of the SportsXchange.

Patriot League Standings
           CONF  O-ALL
Lehigh     0-0   11-4 
American   0-0   9-6 
Bucknell   0-0   9-6 
Holy Cross 0-0   6-7 
Army       0-0   6-8 
Colgate    0-0   5-8 
Lafayette  0-0   5-8 
Navy       0-0   3-11 

KEY CONFERENCE GAMES TO WATCH:

Jan. 11
Lehigh vs. American
Potential league title preview?

Jan. 11
Holy Cross vs. Navy
J.J. Avila versus Devin Brown in a clash of two exciting scorers. 

Jan. 11
Colgate vs. Bucknell
The Raiders have struggled recently, but overall have been better than expected. Can they upset the defending champs? 

Jan. 14
Lafayette vs. Bucknell
A rematch from last year's title game.

Jan. 18
Lehigh vs. Bucknell
A big test for both teams as they battle for pole position at the top of the conference standings.

AROUND THE LEAGUE
AMERICAN
   --With scoring a major issue for the Eagles this season, a key factor is the play of senior G Troy Brewer, the team's second-leading scorer after Player of the Year candidate Charles Hinkle. Brewer's value was evident in the two pre-break games he missed with a toe injury and in his return against Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 29, when he posted a team-high 15 in the Eagles' 49-42 win.
   --Senior F Charles Hinkle scored seven points and chipped in five boards and junior G Daniel Munoz scored a team-high three assists with five points.
 
ARMY
   --In a rebuilding year, the Black Knights are starting to build a core of freshmen that could pay huge dividends in the next couple of years. Against St. Francis (N.Y.), freshman G Milton Washington (10 points) joined Mo Williams as the only two Army freshmen to post consecutive double-digit scoring games this season.
   --Freshman G Maxwell Lenox continues to be a strong contender for Rookie of the Year honors; Lenox came off the bench and handed out a career-high eight assists without committing a turnover in 21 minutes of action in the St. Francis game.

BUCKNELL
   --In trying to defend his Player of the Year award from the 2011-12 season, junior F-C Mike Muscala has had a bumpy first half, but is coming alive in January. His 18-point, 13-rebound effort against Cornell on Dec. 31 was classic Muscala, with solid all-around play from the big man.
   --Depth continues to be an advantage for Bucknell. When the team's second best rebounder Joe Willman landed into foul trouble against Cornell, junior F Brian Fitzpatrick stepped up with nine boards of his own to go along with seven points.

COLGATE
   --Senior Mike Venezia continues to bring the scoring touch for the Raiders, leading the charge with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor (3-of-4 from beyond the arc) against New Hampshire on Dec. 31, and another 15 to lead all Colgate scorers against Quinnipiac on Dec. 28.
   --Nick Pascale is rightly considered the Raiders' most dominant player on the boards, but Brandon James could become his equal by season's end. The junior F chipped in seven rebounds against New Hampshire.

HOLY CROSS
   --Sophomore F Dave Dudzinski is starting to remind Crusaders' alum of graduated forward Andrew Keister. Dudzinski has been a terrific all-around big man for Holy Cross this season, and chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots, and a pair of key free throws down the stretch in the Dec. 31 win over Dartmouth.
   --Depth has been an issue for Milan Brown's team, but he may have found a key weapon off his bench in junior G Jordan Stevens. Stevens recorded double-digit points in back-to-back games, with 16 points against San Francisco back on Dec.22 and 11 against Dartmouth on Dec. 31.

LAFAYETTE
   --Junior G Tony Johnson continues to rehab from a back injury and has yet to play a full game in the 2011-12 season. Johnson recently began individual workouts and strengthening activities and could be ready come conference play.
   --In Johnson's stead, senior G Rob Delaney has stepped up big for the Leopards. Delaney dished out 11 assists against Monmouth on Dec. 28 and a nine-point, six assists performance against Columbia on Dec. 30.

LEHIGH
   --With Lehigh's Dec. 31 win over Bryant, the Mountain Hawks swept the season series against the Northeast Conference, going 5-0 with other wins against Fairleigh Dickinson, Quinnipiac, Saint Francis (Pa.), and Wagner.
   --Junior G C.J. McCollum has a tendency to heat up as the calendar turns and is right on schedule with a 34-point explosion against Bryant on Dec. 31. McCollum scored 20 of his points in the first half.

NAVY
   --Senior G Jordan Sugars has been mired in a shooting funk in recent games, and has struggled adapting to a new coach, but he looks to be snapping out of it. Sugars matched a season-high 21 points with a Dec. 30 loss to Mercer.
   --Navy ended 2011 on a six-game losing skid, but could be an interesting dark horse in the second half, given the continued excellence of sophomore J.J. Avila and a decent rebounding performance as a team.

 

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