January 7, 2010 at 9:33 pm #1448
As the PL season gets underway, I sense a renewed optimism among the players, coaches and the fans – albeit few in number (687 average home crowd – how bad is that!). Maybe, just maybe there’s reason to hope a little March Madness comes to South Mountain. Why?
1. No one team appears positioned to run away with the PL title this year. You can argue that Army’s 10-4 record in OOC play is not that much better than HC’s 3-12 posting when you factor in the differing SOS’s. At least I buy-into that argument. Fully.
(Team / Record / Sagarin Ranking (347 teams) / Sagarin SOS (347 schedules)
Army / 10-4 / 163 / 330
Lafayette / 9-6 / 254 / 346
Lehigh / 9-6 / 232 / 344
Navy / 6-9 / 293 / 335
Bucknell / 5-11 / 279 / 284
Colgate / 4-10 / 296 / 304
American / 3-12 / 316 / 327
Holy Cross / 3-12 / 261 / 123
League Totals / 49-70 / 28th ranked Conference / 299 avg. SOS
If you believe in Sagarin’s Predictor Model, you’d conclude that if Army were to play American on AU’s home court tonight, the line would read "Army – 6." That’s a tight top to bottom league. Conference play should indeed prove interesting.
2. Player preparedness. Eleven players (5 forwards and 6 guards) have averaged double-digit playing time minutes throughout OOC play in what appears to be a masterful effort on Coach Reed’s part to ready his team while settling on a solid rotation scheme.
3. Multiple Scoring Threats. Seven different players have led the team in scoring this year with more than one shown capable of taking over a game with high output performances, e.g., McCollum’s 31 vs. Yale and 20+ nights against Quinnipiac, St. Francis (PA) and Longwood; Knutson’s 23 vs. NJIT, Keefer’s 21 vs. Longwood, and Hall’s 20 vs. Delaware State. To that you can add to constant threat that Ojo and or Buchberger will hit double figures as they have on more than one occasion this year. After 15 games, it’s plain to see scoring has not been our problem. We’re presently ranked 2nd in the PL @ 71.9ppg, 2nd in FG% @ .433 and 3FG% @ .375. The team finished the ’08-’09 season (OOC and PL) scoring an average of 63.9ppg.
4. Multiple Rebounding Threats. Seven different players have led the team in rebounding this year. The Carrington/Knutson combo, besides perfecting their high-low game on the offensive end, have proven worth opponents on the defensive glass pulling down 6.8 and 6.4 boards per game, respectively, and good enough for 4th and 5th billing among PL players.
4. Bench Strength. The "other 10 guys" have contributed 34% of the points and energized the team during scoring droughts. There’s little reason to hold your breath now when the horn sounds from the scorer’s table.
5. Zahir Carrington is hitting his stride. After a slow start, our star center has averaged 10.6 pts. and 9.8 boards per game in his last 5 outings after stumbling out of the gate and missing 3 1/2 games due to injury.
6. We’re riding a 5 game winning streak and winners in 6 of our last 7.
7. We’ve got arguably the best quarterback in the league in Marquis Hall boasting a 2.5 Assist to Turnover – tied at the top with BU’s Darryl Shazier. MH leads the PL with 86 helpers. The guy is 8th in steals and 17th in scoring, as well, with 1.3 spg and 10ppg, respectively.
It won’t be easy, but it won’t be easy for any of the other teams, either.
The dog fight begins on Saturday with:
HC @ LC 1pm
A @ CU 2pm
AU @ LU 7pm
N @ BU 7pm
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