Midseason Awards – Patriot League

With the non-conference season in the books, now is the time to divvy out our mid-season awards for the Patriot League. There have been plenty of surprises in the first two months of the season, but most surprising has been the production from the conference’s underclassmen. Let’s begin!

All-Conference First Team
PG: Maurice Watson, Jr., Boston University (14.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.5 apg, 2.2 spg)
G: Dylon Cormier, Loyola (MD) (24.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.9 spg)
G: Austin Tillotson, Colgate (14.1 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.0 A/TO, 66.2% FG%)
G: Seth Henrichs, Lafayette (20.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 47.2% 3PT%)
PF: Dave Dudzinski, Holy Cross (17.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 50.4% FG%)

The first team feels right, as all five of my selections have been outstanding from the start. Maurice Watson, Jr. has emerged as one of the best floor generals in the country. Because of a diminished supporting cast, few have a higher possession rate than Dylon Cormier, yet the shooting guard has been excellent on both sides of the ball for G.G. Smith’s Greyhounds. Austin Tillotson is playing out of his mind, so well in fact that’s he’s a serious POY candidate (more of him later). The versatile and invaluable Henrichs is posting a career high 121.9 offensive rating, buoyed by spectacular shooting percentages (58% FG/47% 3PT/88% FT). Inside the Patriot League, there isn’t a skilled big that’s better than Dave Dudzinski at the moment. He’s been virtually unguardable in the post.

All-Conference Second Team
PG: Darius Gardner, American (10.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 2.0 spg, 51.9% FG%)
PG: Mackey McKnight, Lehigh (13.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.0 bpg)
G: Bryce Scott, Lafayette (16.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 40.0% 3PT%, 94.4% FT%)
F: Murphy Burnatowski, Colgate (14.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.5 A/TO)
F: Dom Morris, Boston University (12.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 58.2% FG%)

It seems odd to leave Bucknell’s Cameron Ayers off the second team, and I’m anticipating some backlash because of it. Still, these five all possess a strong case to be part of my second team. Darius Gardner, a transfer from Stephen F. Austin, has been terrific implementing Mike Brennan’s Princeton style offense. Mackey McKnight has been the much-needed senior presence on a talented Lehigh club loaded with underclassmen. As a breakout candidate here on Big Apple Buckets, Bryce Scott has been the deep threat Fran O’Hanlon was expecting coming off an underrated freshman season. Murphy Burnatowski’s numbers are a down, albeit slightly, but that’s probably a good thing for Colgate. With more production around the 6’7″ senior, he no longer has to shoulder a monster load on offense. Dom Morris, though undersized, has been wonderfully efficient around the rim. A quick look at the career statistics tells a story of a player who has progressed each and every season.

All-Conference Rookie Team
PG: Nick Lindner, Lafayette (11.1 ppg, 4.2 apg, 1.6 A/TO)
G: Anthony Thompson, Holy Cross (9.0 ppg, 2.8 apg)
G: Austin Price, Lehigh (10.4 ppg, 1.2 spg)
F: Malachi Alexander, Holy Cross (10.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
PF: Tim Kempton, Lehigh (13.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 51.4% FG%)

I likely won’t get much argument from anyone regarding my all-rookie team, as each player above has been valuable out of the gate. While inconsistent, Nick Lindner has shown flashes of his potential. When he’s playing well, the Leopards offense is a well-oiled machine. Anthony Thompson has given Milan Brown another backcourt presence to pair alongside Justin Burrell. Austin Price was given the start in his first career game, and so far he hasn’t looked back. Malachi Alexander has shown an ability to protect the defensive glass, while also being aggressive on the offensive end. He looks like a future star in this conference. Speaking of future stars, Tim Kempton is currently the favorite to land ROY honors at season’s end.

Mid-season Player of the Year – Maurice Watson, Jr.
With no clear-cut winner at the moment, I selected the 5’9″ sophomore who’s the engine that runs Joe Jones’ Terriers. Watson, Jr. has been nothing short of spectacular in his second season, averaging 15.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 6.5 assists, and 2.1 steals per contest. With a 49.2% assist rate that’s second in the country, his ability to protect the basketball (1.9 A/TO) and be remarkably efficient inside the arc (63.1%) is rare indeed. Many pundits will call attention to Watson’s backcourt teammate, D.J. Irving, but without the speedy point guard, Boston University isn’t the favorite to capture the Patriot League championship.

Mid-season Coach of the Year – Matt Langel, Colgate
A lot needs to be determined, but the early season results are certainly encouraging for Langel in his pivotal third season. Colgate’s latest victory on the road over Albany has been the program’s biggest victory of the season, yet their other four Division I victories came against terrible defensive teams. Nonetheless, Langel has built the program wisely utilizing the transfer process, and as a result, has the Red Raiders in a position to contend. Their double OT defeat at the hands of Columbia was disappointing, but the loss wasn’t as bad as most think. Colgate will be a factor in February.

Mid-season Surprise of the Year – Austin Tillotson
Finally, a no-brainer. Tillotson has been nothing short of magnificent in his first season at Hamilton, as he’s hit nearly two-thirds of his shot attempts through 11 games. Sure, his shooting ratios (64.8% FG%/62.3% 3PT%) aren’t sustainable, yet his play is a prime reason why Colgate’s offense is averaging an unexpected 1.13 points per possession. As a mere sophomore, he’s a wonderful building block for Langel moving forward.

Mid-season Rookie of the Year – Tim Kempton
With all due respect to Nick Lindner, Kempton has played like a grizzled veteran in the post for Brett Reed’s Mountain Hawks. The 6’10” center has three double double in his past five games, and is a big reason why Lehigh has more non-conference wins than losses. Among all freshmen in the country, Kempton finds himself tied for 15th in the country in rebounding (6.7 rpg) and tied for 28th in scoring (13.6 ppg).

Do you disagree with any of my selections? Feel free to let me know in the comments section!

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

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