Army hoops picked fourth in Patriot

Baltimore, Md. - With four starters back for a team that made the Patriot League Championship game last year, Holy Cross has been selected to claim the title in 2010 in a poll of the League's coaches and sports information directors, it was announced on Thursday at Men's Basketball Media Day at ESPNZone.

The Crusaders notched 13 first-place votes and 95 points overall to claim the top spot, and were followed in order by Lehigh, Bucknell, Army, Colgate, American, Navy and Lafayette. Coaches and sports information directors were not allowed to vote for their own team or student-athletes.

The top two squads also account for the majority of the Patriot League Preseason All-League Team, with four of the five selections coming from Holy Cross or Lehigh. Lehigh senior guard Marquis Hall was named the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year. Hall was the Patriot League Rookie of the Year in 2007, and has claimed All-League honors in each of the past two seasons, including First-Team status last year. Lehigh senior forward Zahir Carrington joins his teammate on the Preseason All-League Team, which also includes Holy Cross junior forward Andrew Keister and sophomore guard R.J. Evans as well as Army senior guard Cleveland Richard. Each player with the exception of Evans, the 2009 Rookie of the Year, was named All-Patriot League last year.

Holy Cross (18-14, 11-3 Patriot League) returns four starters and nine letterwinners from a team that finished second in the Patriot League regular season before falling at American in the Championship game. The Crusaders will have a new man leading the bench, as Sean Kearney enters his first season as head coach in Worcester. Kearney will be greeted with a strong nucleus that includes Evans and Keister. Evans led the Crusaders with 13.4 points per game last year, while Keister averaged 8.5 points and 6.3 rebounds while making 58.8 percent of his shots. Junior guard Andrew Beinert (8.5 ppg) and senior forward Eric Meister (6.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) also have starting experience.

Lehigh (15-14, 5-9) takes second place in the preseason poll in consecutive years, and will hope to improve on last year's fifth-place finish with two of the League's top players. Carrington and Hall are second and third, respectively, in scoring among returning players. Carrington averaged 14.0 ppg and led the Patriot League with 8.6 rebounds per contest, while Hall averaged 13.9 ppg and 4.1 assists per contest. Hall has 1,153 career points and is 11th in League annals with 379 assists.

Bucknell (7-23, 4-10) has reason for optimism after placing seventh a season ago. The Bison have four starters and nine letterwinners back, including Second-Team All-Patriot League pick Patrick Behan (13.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg). Junior guard Darryl Shazier led the Patriot League with 4.6 assists per game, while Bryan Cohen averaged 11.8 ppg in his freshman season. Bucknell also welcomes back senior guard Stephen Tyree, as the 2007-08 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year missed the entire 2008-09 season with an injury.

Army (11-19, 6-8) had its best-ever Patriot League finish in fourth place last year, and hopes to build on that success with four starters and 13 letterwinners back. Richard (12.0 ppg) was a Second-Team All-Patriot League pick last year, while Josh Miller averaged 9.2 points and Marcus Nelson was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year.

Colgate (10-20, 5-9) made the Patriot League semifinals for the second straight time last season, and has five starters back in the lineup. That group includes the top three scorers from last year, as Mike Venezia (10.8 ppg), Ben Jonson (10.4) and Yaw Gyawu (10.2) all averaged in double figures. The Raiders also bring back senior guard/forward Kyle Roemer, a Second-Team All-Patriot League pick in 2007-08 who missed the 2008-09 season with an injury.

American (24-8, 13-1) will have to rely on new contributors if it wants to claim a third straight Patriot League Championship. 2009 Patriot League Coach of the Year Jeff Jones does not have any starters back and loses the Player of the Year (Derrick Mercer) and Tournament MVP (Garrison Carr) from last season. Nick Hendra (6.3 ppg) is the top returning scorer, while Stephen Lumpkins averaged 3.4 ppg.

Navy (19-11, 8-6) has finished with a winning League record in each of the past two years. The Mids have to replace the Patriot League's leading scorer, Kaleo Kina, but have a good candidate to do so in senior guard Chris Harris. The two-time All-Patriot League selection is the top returning scorer in the Patriot League after averaging 15.4 ppg last year. Mark Veazey (7.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) also returns.

Lafayette (8-22, 4-10) loses just one player from last year's roster, and Jeff Kari (10.7 ppg), Ryan Willen (9.4 ppg) and Jared Mintz (9.2) all averaged more than nine points per game last season for Head Coach Fran O'Hanlon, the dean of Patriot League coaches.

Patriot League teams begin the season on Nov. 13, with seven of the League's eight teams in action on the opening night. Patriot League play tips off on January 9, and will include 10 regular-season games on CBS College Sports Network. The Patriot League Tournament begins with the quarterfinals on March 3 and semifinals on March 7. One quarterfinal and one semifinal game will be televised on CBS College Sports Network. The Patriot League Championship is set for March 12 at 4:45 p.m. on ESPN2. All Tournament games are played at the site of the higher seed.

2009-10 Patriot League Preseason Poll Points
1. Holy Cross (13 first-place votes) 95
2. Lehigh (3) 78
3. Bucknell 63
4. Army 59
5. Colgate 51
6. American 45
7. Navy 43
8. Lafayette 14 

Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year: 

Marquis Hall, Lehigh (Sr., G) 

Patriot League Preseason All-League Team
Zahir Carrington, Lehigh (Sr., F)
R.J. Evans, Holy Cross (So., G)
Andrew Keister, Holy Cross (Jr., F)
Marquis Hall, Lehigh (Sr., G)
Cleveland Richard, Army (Sr., G) 

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