Some tremendous talent has graduated from the Patriot League – Mike Muscala, C.J. McCollum, Ella Ellis, just to name a few greats – opening up opportunities for veterans to grab spots for the 2013-14 all-conference teams. After Boston University, the prohibitive favorite among people who know the league, the Patriot League is as wide open as ever. Despite this, it wasn’t a difficult task, in our humble opinion, to carve out these two teams.
So without further ado, we present the Big Apple Buckets’ Patriot League all-conference second team:
Seth Hinrichs, Lafayette (14.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 45.6% 3PT%) – With everyone raving about the now graduated Tony Johnson, and rightfully so, Hinrichs went a touch under the radar during Lafayette’s remarkable stretch run, despite posting a fantastic 113.6 offensive rating as a mere sophomore. The three-point sharpshooter is one of the most intelligent players in the conference, possessing an elite ability to use his versatility and size to his advantage. He can play several positions on the floor and do it quite well. We’re confident Henrichs will continue to bolster another above average offensive effort from the Leopards.
Maurice Watson, Boston University (11.2 ppg, 5.4 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.8 A/TO) – The freshmen talent Joe Jones brought into Boston University last season was fantastic, and Watson was absolutely a part of that. All he did was lead the America East in assists and steals per game as a rookie, while registering a terrific, veteran-like assist to turnover ratio. As the season progressed, Watson only got better, posting an average efficiency rating of 15.8 in his final 12 contests. To put that number into context, a 15.8 average for the season would have been tops in the America East. And he still has three more seasons ahead of him.
Kyle Wilson, Army (13.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 41.6% 3PT%) – Admittedly, Wilson was the one player on the fringe for the second team, since it’s difficult to forecast Army’s offense without the superb play of Ella Ellis to fall back on. With or without Ellis, however, Wilson was mighty impressive as a freshman for Zach Spiker, posting shooting percentages an upperclassman would be proud of at 46.5%/41.6%/81.0%. With another offseason under his belt, and help from his teammates in Larry Toomey, Dylan Cox, and Josh Herbeck, Wilson projects to be the Black Knight’s leading man moving forward, even if Army is one of the more balanced teams in the league.
Murphy Burnatowski, Colgate (17.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 spg) – Burtatowski burst on the scene as a red-shirt junior with only four players in conference bettering his scoring average. As a prototypical Patriot League big man who can stretch the defense, Burnatowski can get his shot and subsequently score from anywhere on the floor, making him a nearly impossible cover. Heading into his senior campaign, less could mean more for Burnatowski, meaning a better shot selection – he’s a career 34.4% three-point shooter – could spike his overall efficiency. Even if he continues at this moderately effecient pace, the big bodied forward is the favorite to led the conference in scoring.
Dom Morris, Boston University (11.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 57.4% FG%) – Morris has always been an above average rebounder, but last season marked a rather unexpected progression scoring wise, as the junior’s points per game average soared by 41.4% thanks to a vast improvement in his shooting percentages. How much of an improvement? Well, the 6’7″ forward was one of the more efficient scorers in the country (114.6 offensive rating) and an integral reason why Jones’ team won 17 games last season. Heading into the Patriot League may take a little adjustment – you’ll find more quintessential big men there compared to the America East – but we’re confident Morris will continue to excel with a new-found desire and drive.
And now for our all-conference first team selections:
Mackey McKnight, Lehigh (11.9 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 spg) – Even as a freshman, McKnight was one of the nation’s leaders in assist rate, so it’s no surprise that three years later he made our all-conference first team. McKnight is a mesmerizing blend of speed and agility with an innate ability to drive the lane and finish around the rim. Of course, Lehigh loses a very strong group of seniors, so things only get more difficult for McKnight. But given the talented roster Brett Reed has assembled, we expect the veteran floor general to have another outstanding season. Even if his shooting percentages are less than stellar, McKnight will do his best to rack up points at the charity stripe. He’s the most difficult point guard to defend in the Patriot League at the moment.
D.J. Irving, Boston University (14.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.4 spg) – An America East all-first team selection last season, Irving took advantage of an emphasis to move off-the-ball more so than in season’s past. The lightning quick guard improved his scoring average in the process, but he also advanced his defense as well. Irving can truly impact a game on both ends of the floor, and for the Terriers to live up to a lofty preseason ranking, they’ll need another terrific effort from the two-guard. Another offseason of training should help the diminutive guard perform better as the season extends into February.
Dylon Cormier, Loyola (MD) (16.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.8 spg) – Cormier is a player whose value goes beyond pure statistics – think former Robert Morris guard Velton Jones – as he’s the heart and sole of a Greyhounds club that relocates to the more defensive minded Patriot League. The supporting cast is more suspect with the graduations of Robert Olsen and Erik Etherly, but G.G. Smith is expecting big things out of Cormier nevertheless. The shooting guard competes hard on both sides of the ball and should continue to improve his shooting, which has been a main focus this offseason. Really, if Loyola somehow slips into the upper third of the conference, Cormier has Player of the Year written all over him.
Cameron Ayers, Bucknell (12.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.1 A/TO) – For the first three seasons of his Bucknell career, Ayers didn’t have to be the guy – that role was reserved for the Patriot League two-time Player of the Year Mike Muscala. With Muscala playing professionally in Spain, though, Ayers becomes the opponents’ number one focus on the scouting report moving forward. The transition may not be easy – Ayers has never had a possession rate higher than 19.8% – yet Dave Paulsen is confident the 6’5″ senior will step when he’s leaned on more. The head coach is likely encouraged with Ayers career 41.4% from behind the arc and minuscule turnover rate.
Dave Dudzinski, Holy Cross (15.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 81.7% FT%) – As the most efficient Patriot League player returning, Dudzinski has really made the most of a lousy situation at Holy Cross. Despite being part of a somewhat challenged offense (97.1 points scored per 100 possessions), Dudzinski shined as a junior, finishing in the Patriot League top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage (48.3%), free throw percentage, and blocks (0.8 bpg). It’s been a fantastic career for the 6’9″ big man, and it’s foolish to expect any kind of a regression as a senior. He’s the most complete frontcourt presence the Patriot League has to offer.
Also Considered: Tilman Dunbar, Navy, Dan Trist, Lafayette, Dylan Cox, Army, Pat Moore, Colgate, John Papale, Boston University
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride
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