Basketball Scouting Report: Colgate

Beating Bucknell might not mean what it used to, but it's still a very big accomplishment. Army basketball is remaining entrenched in the top tier of the Patriot League. The Black Knights can't endure a letdown against a Colgate squad that is feeling much more confident these days.


Beating Bucknell isn't an easy task for any Patriot League team, even at a time when the Bison are struggling far more than they did the past several seasons. Programs can and do carry auras about them, due to the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. It can be intimidating to play the school that has been the big dog in the Patriot League's back yard for so long, but Army surmounted that psychological hurdle and should feel that much more affirmed as it continues with its season.

Colgate might be at the bottom of the conference, but it just played its best league game of the season this past Saturday. Army has to take the Raiders seriously, full stop.

COLGATE AT-A-GLANCE

Coach Matt Langel hopes that even though his team is 1-5 in the Patriot League, it has found a comfort zone. Colgate doesn't possess a lot of depth, but the Raiders destroyed Navy by a 63-41 score this past weekend, defending as well as they have all season long. The starting five does almost all the work, and hardly any reserves are able to keep this team afloat when a starter needs a breather. Injuries to senior guard Pat Moore, who hasn't played since Jan. 2, have left this team even more in need of additional contributions to its roster, but those contributions have not emerged. Two reserves, Clayton Graham and Chad Johnson, played only three minutes apiece in the Raiders' loss to Boston University a week ago on Jan. 15. Two other reserves, Alex Ramon and Nathan Harries, have not played more than six games this season, typically with minimal minutes. It is as though the bench is being rebuilt from scratch in the latter half of January. That's an obvious point of concern.

Starting Lineup

Center – Ethan Jacobs –
Junior, 6-11, 235; 2013-14: 11.1 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game

Jacobs is a serviceable center, but he's not particularly imposing on defense. Army can attack him in the paint, and agile defense should be able to contain him when the Raiders have the ball.

Forward – Murphy Burnatowski – Senior, 6-7, 230; 2013-14: 14.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg

The leading scorer on the Raiders compensates for a lack of quickness with an accurate shooting touch. A 36.7-percent conversion rate on threes is quite respectable, and Burnatowski hits 82.4 percent of his foul shots. This is the player Army must hold in check.

Guard – Luke Roh – Junior, 6-4, 195; 2013-14: 6.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.5 apg

Roh is only 6-4, but he's the best rebounder on the team… yes, better than the 6-11 Jacobs and the 6-7 Burnatowski. He also helps out on the boards, making him a supremely coachable player and a "glue guy" on this roster.

Guard – Damon Sherman-Newsome – Junior, 6-5, 205; 2013-14: 11.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Sherman-Newsome's best attribute is that he's a selective shooter. He doesn't chuck large quantities of threes, but he makes 41.8 percent of them. He hits 47.9 percent of his field goals, so he knows what a good shot looks like. Army has to take him out of his comfort zone.

Guard – Austin Tillotson – Sophomore, 6-0, 175; 2013-14: 13.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.4 apg

Tillotson hits 54.8 percent of his threes, but he averages fewer than 2.5 long-distance attempts per game. He does what Sherman-Newsome does, only better. He's also the best assist man on the Raiders (even more than Roh).

Keys to the Game

1) Take away the three.
The Raiders are the best three-point shooting team in all of Division I, at 48.9 percent. If Army expects to win this game, it must take away the three from Colgate, which plays fairly good offense and noticeably poor defense. Rotations and switches must be effective in this game for Army, which must use speed to stay in front of Colgate players and close down shooting hands.

2) Clog passing lanes. Colgate is one of the 15 best teams in the country in terms of assists, at 17.8 per game. This means the Raiders get baskets within the flow of their offense, as a result of sharing the ball. If Army fills lanes and denies easy passes to shooters, Colgate will probably fight uphill throughout this evening's contest.

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