Call To The Post As Patriot League Race Set To Begin

Yes, there has been some variety, but unlike many other conferences this season the Patriot League has played fairly close to form in the non-conference slate. Perhaps because of that, you can make a case for several horses in the field of 10 to cross the wire first at the end of the league race, which begins on Wednesday when the conference gate opens. Continue reading “Call To The Post As Patriot League Race Set To Begin”

Three Thoughts: Yale 82, Lafayette 60

Javier Duren led Yale with a game-high 22 (photo courtesy: Yale athletics)

Despite a season-opening loss to Holy Cross, Harvard is still the three-time defending Ivy League champions and will be heavy favorites to make it four once Ivy play commences in six weeks. But Yale – which won at Lavietes Pavilion last season – fancies itself as the No. 1 contender, and although it will have to wait a while for a shot at the title belt, they sent another message with an 82-60 dismantling of a decent Lafayette team Wednesday night at Lee Amphitheater. It was the Bulldogs’ fifth straight win after losing their opener to Quinnipiac in double overtime, but to make it six, they’ll have to win at red-hot Providence, who bludgeoned Florida St. into submission and beat Notre Dame last week.

Continue reading “Three Thoughts: Yale 82, Lafayette 60”

NEC Recap – November 14, The Opening Night

With eight NEC programs beginning their 2014-15 season tonight, we summarized all of the opening night action. Going in, it wasn’t expected to be a strong night for the conference — according to KenPom, five of the eight teams were overwhelming underdogs (10% chance to win or less) with only Robert Morris considered as a moderate favorite (70%) over Lafayette. Continue reading “NEC Recap – November 14, The Opening Night”

Patriot League Preview – A Friendly E-mail Discussion

With just two days before college basketball tips off, Kevin Doyle and I engaged in some friendly Patriot League banter over e-mail. We already gave you our preseason all-conference teams/individual awards and top impact rookies, so instead of writing up a boring primer, we decided to chat it up regarding this league. Of course, feel free to add your opinion to the message board. Enjoy! Continue reading “Patriot League Preview – A Friendly E-mail Discussion”

Patriot League Tempo-Free, Simulations, and an All-Conference Rant

The Patriot League tournament has been paired down to eight teams (sorry Loyola and Navy) and the action continues this evening. To help make sense of the madness, John was kind enough to run 10,000 simulations for this tournament to determine who has the best chance at earning the NCAA’s automatic bid. But first, a look at the final efficiency standings for the Patriot League regular season. Continue reading “Patriot League Tempo-Free, Simulations, and an All-Conference Rant”

Tempo-Free Patriot League: A Three Team Race

Two Saturdays ago American had just won their tenth straight Patriot League game under the direction of Mike Brennan. The Princeton offensive system was working! Or at least that’s what everybody waxed poetic about. Continue reading “Tempo-Free Patriot League: A Three Team Race”

Tempo-Free Patriot League: The Top Three Are Legit

With six regular season conference games in the books, now is the perfect time to break out the first ever edition of the Tempo Free Patriot League! There have been some major surprises (Army, American, Lafayette) thus far, but what do the tempo free numbers tell us? Let’s dive right in.

Efficiency Margin (Offensive Efficiency – Defensive Efficiency):

  1. Boston University (6-0): +0.17 points per possession
  2. American (6-0): +0.14
  3. Army (5-1): +0.10
  4. Bucknell (3-3): +0.02
  5. Holy Cross (3-3): +0.01
  6. Loyola (3-3): -0.03
  7. Colgate (1-5): -0.05
  8. Lehigh (1-5): -0.06
  9. Navy (2-4): -0.12
  10. Lafayette (0-6): -0.17

The top three teams, and their records, are legit. At least that’s what the early conference returns tell us. With the exception of a narrow victory on the road over Lehigh, Boston University has dominated the competition with an average margin of victory of 11.2 points per contest. After losing seven out of 10 Division I non-conference games, Army has completely turned things around thanks to a stark improvement on the offensive end (more on that later). The trio of 3-3 teams are right where they should be in terms of efficiency. Colgate, the 50th most experienced team in the country, is off to a disappointing start, as is Lehigh, who sits on the opposite end of the experience spectrum (318th). Lafayette is … well you’ll see why they’re winless later on.

Best Offenses:

  1. Army: 1.14 points scored per possession
  2. American: 1.09
  3. Boston University: 1.09

After scoring a respectable 1.01 points in their D-I non-conference games, the Army offensive attack has kicked it up a notch for Patriot League play. Tanner Plomb’s inspired play of late (18.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 60.7% FG% in five league games) and Dylon Cox’s ability to take care of the basketball (25 assists versus 3 turnovers) have been a big reason for the Black Knights’ sizable jump in offensive efficiency. In Washington D.C., Mike Brennan’s Princeton style offense has been magnificent with the Eagles registering an assist on 72.8% of their field goals. Their crisp offensive sets are leading to a lot of layups and shots near the rim; they are second in the nation in two-point field goal percentage (57.5%) at the moment. Coming off a season ranked 127th in offensive efficiency, it comes as no surprise that Joe Jones’ Terriers are scoring the basketball with ease. Maurice Watson’s assist rate of 49.4% (second nationally to LIU Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman) likely has something to do with that.

Worst Offenses:

  1. Navy: 0.86 points scored per possession
  2. Holy Cross: 1.00
  3. Lehigh: 1.00

It’s really a shame that Navy’s offense has been so putrid, especially on the road where the Mids have mustered a puny 43.3 points per game. It’s led to the brutally honest Ed DeChellis breaking out these post game quotes:

“We were so god-awful, I’m not sure if we could have beaten four nuns and a priest tonight.” -DeChellis, after a 55-32 defeat at Boston University.

“We did not come out of the gate ready to play and we could never put two or three shots back-to-back-to-back to get some momentum.” -DeChellis, after an uncompetitive loss at Colgate, 63-41.

Navy has been good enough in other facets of the game to be successful, but as I wrote last week, the Mids will continue to struggle without their best playmaker, Tilman Dunbar, in the lineup. At 1.00 ppp, Holy Cross appears to be doing an adequate job scoring, but the Patriot League average is approximately at 1.03 ppp, making Milan Brown’s offense slightly below average. Still, the Crusaders are defending relatively well (0.99 ppp), therefore they’re projected by KenPom to finish third with a 11-7 conference record. It helps that Holy Cross still has Lafayette and Navy on the schedule two times each.

Best Defenses:

  1. Boston University: 0.91 points allowed per possession
  2. American: 0.95
  3. Navy: 0.98

Worst Defenses:

  1. Lafayette: 1.23 points allowed per possession
  2. Lehigh: 1.06
  3. Colgate: 1.06

In his 19 years of coaching, Fran O’Hanlon has never coached a defensive stalwart, but this season has been absolutely ridiculous. At 119.8 points allowed per 100 possessions for the season, only two teams IN THE COUNTRY have been worse in that regard. The Leopards defense is certainly approaching unchartered territory; inside the conference, only the 2011-12 Colgate Red Raiders have given up more than 115 points per 100 possessions in the past 12 seasons. Lafayette is fouling too much (47.6% defensive free throw rate, last in the Patriot League), not defending the perimeter (opponents are shooting 47.1% from behind the arc, last in PL), and failing to protect the defensive glass. That’s a trifecta of defensive incompetence.

Luckiest Teams:

  1. American: 0.98 wins above expected
  2. Navy: 0.95
  3. Boston University: 0.64

Unluckiest Teams:

  1. Colgate: -1.15 wins below expected
  2. Lehigh: -1.11
  3. Lafayette: -0.94

Due to their aforementioned woes on offense and a couple of blowout losses, Navy’s perceived as one of the luckiest teams in the Patriot League. Still, the Mids blew a 10-point lead with five minutes remaining at Loyola in their conference opener, so if anything they should be sitting at 3-3. American hasn’t blown anyone out so far – likely a factor for why they’re considered “lucky” –  yet their victories have been impressive nonetheless. A 4-0 road record is no joke, and on Wednesday, they’ll host the only other undefeated team in league play, Boston University.

While the numbers indicate the Matt Langel’s group is the unluckiest squad (the Red Raiders monster win over Navy closed their efficiency gap), Lehigh surely has the biggest gripe. Sans a blowout loss at Holy Cross last weekend, the Mountain Hawks had lost their previous four games by a combined 10 points. While their inability to close it out may be indicative of their youth, those narrow outcomes could eventually swing in Lehigh’s favor moving forward. They’re probably a better team than they’re 1-5 record indicates. Lafayette, who sits in the Patriot League cellar, should outscore a few opponents, especially if Seth Henrichs eventually returns from a knee injury.

Ryan covers the Patriot League on Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride