By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
As the Patriot League men's basketball schedule kicks off tonight with five games, the 2014 league season will certainly pose a different look than last year.
Arguably the two best players in league history have moved on in Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, the No. 8-pick in the NBA draft, and Bucknell's Mike Muscala, who was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks. Their teams, the top two in the league over the past four years, are both dealing with major graduation losses in addition to the draft picks.
Two new teams enter the league this year as Boston University and Loyola (Md.) begin their first season.
The Terriers (7-6) have the biggest win posted by a Patriot League school, winning on the road at Maryland. Boston might posses the most dynamic backcourt in the league this season. Sophomore Maurice Watson, Jr., leads the team at 15 points per game, while point guard D.J. Irving, a senior, averages 12.3 points per game. Dom Morris, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, provides a post presence for Boston at 12.7 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game.
Loyola (Md.) is struggling entering its first season in Patriot League play. The Greyhounds (5-6) began the season 4-0, but have lost six of their last seven games. Loyola does have the sixth leading scorer in the nation; senior guard Dylon Cormier is averaging 22.9 points per game, but he's the lone Greyhound player in double figures.
Bucknell (5-6) gets a chance to get off to a good start in Patriot play with two games at Sojka Pavilion to open the league season. The Bison open tonight at 7 with American before hosting Colgate at 2 p.m. Sunday.
American (4-7) is the lone Patriot League squad with a new coach this season. Mike Brennan, who spent two years earlier this decade as an Eagles' assistant under former coach Jeff Jones, returned as the head coach after four years as an assistant to John Thompson II at Georgetown. American had lost its last three games before beating Maryland Eastern Shore on Sunday. The Eagles have four players averaging in double figures led by guards John Schoff (12.5) and Jesse Reed (12.4).