Mids picked sixth in league

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The Patriot League's eight men's basketball coaches, including Navy second-year coach Billy Lange, gathered at the CSTV studios at Chelsea Piers in New York City Thursday afternoon for the league's annual media day. Flanked with media members, the league's coaches answered questions about the upcoming season, while several student-athletes representing their respective institutions also spoke with reporters from the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions.

In addition to the question and answer sessions, the 2005-06 Patriot League Men's Basketball Preseason Poll was unveiled. The Midshipmen, who turned in a 9-19 record under Lange in his first season, were selected to finish sixth in the conference according to the poll which was voted on by the league's coaches and sports information directors.

"I think it's a fair assessment based on our past couple of years and what we have returning," said Lange regarding Navy's preseason pick to finish sixth in the league. "You can't measure heart, commitment and team chemistry, but those are the things we are looking to help complement our talent and carry us through the season. I really don't put much credence into the preseason polls. Our goal is to play the best basketball we can by the end of the year."

Last season, Navy finished tied for sixth with Lafayette, producing a 5-9 conference mark and winning five of its last nine regular-season contests. The Mids pushed American to overtime in the league's postseason tournament, dropping a two-point decision to the Eagles. Navy finished the season ranked among the nation's top 50 in rebound margin (+5.1) and steals (8.9). Sophomore guards Corey Johnson (Anderson, Ind.) and Greg Sprink (Cardiff, Calif.), who were named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team a year ago, return in 2005-06, as does senior captain Matt Fannin (Lakewood, Ohio), who paced Navy in scoring and rebounding.

After Bucknell became the first league team to win an NCAA Tournament contest a year ago, it's to no one's surprise that the Bison would be the preseason pick to repeat as the Patriot League champion in 2005-06. Bucknell earned 14 of the 16 first-place votes, which means every school's coach and SID voted for the Bison since each school was not permitted to vote for their own team. The Bison return 12 of their 13 letterwinners, including preseason All-Patriot League pick Charles Lee and Preseason Patriot League Player of the Year Chris McNaughton.

Holy Cross, who claimed the regular-season league title a year ago and turned in a 1-1 record in the NIT, secured the final two first-place votes. The Crusaders lost five letterwinners, including three starters, but will be led by 2004-05 Patriot League Player of the Year Kevin Hamilton, a preseason all-league selection heading into this season. Third year guard Keith Simmons, who garnered first-team all-league kudos a year ago, joins Hamilton on the preseason all-league team.

Lehigh picked up 65 points to finish third in the voting, while just four points separated fourth-place Colgate and fifth-place American. Though Navy and Lafayette tied for sixth at the end of last season, Navy garnered 16 more points than Lafayette, to earn the sixth spot on the poll, followed by Lafayette and Army.

Lehigh plays the league's first contest on Nov. 13 in Wyoming where they will battle Northwestern in the Black Coaches Association Invitational.

The Mids, meanwhile, open their season Friday, Nov. 18, when they play host to Georgetown at Alumni Hall, tipping at 7:30 p.m.

2005-06 Patriot League Men's Basketball

Preseason Poll
                                  2005     2005 PL
        School           Pts.     Record   Record
1.     Bucknell (14)     98       23-10    10-4
2.     Holy Cross (2)    86       25-7     13-1
3.     Lehigh            65       14-15     7-7
4.     Colgate           59       12-16     7-7
5.     American          55       16-12     8-6
6.     Navy              42        9-19     5-9
7.     Lafayette         26        9-19     5-9
8.     Army              17        3-24     1-13
(#) - first-place votes

2005-06 Men's Basketball Preseason All-Patriot League Team
Chris McNaughton, Jr., C, Bucknell (POY)
Andre Ingram, Jr., G, American
Kevin Hamilton, Sr., G, Holy Cross
Charles Lee, Sr., G, Bucknell
Keith Simmons, Jr., G, Holy Cross

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