Not since the 2001-02 season, when American University joined the fold, has the men’s basketball landscape of the Patriot League experienced any change.
The addition of Boston University, from the America East, and the MAAC’s Loyola (Md.) brings the PL membership to 10 for the 2013-14 season.
“I think this a great move for a couple of reasons,” said new Loyola coach G.G. Smith. “Academically, it is a great fit for us as we have the same goals and visions. Athletically, we are joining a league that was among the top-15 in college RPI. It is the best of both worlds.”
Smith, the son of Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, takes over for Jimmy Patsos who left for Siena after a pair of 20-win seasons and leading the Greyhounds to a 2012 NCAA tournament appearance.
Loyola lost a pair of two-star recruits in forward Lavon Long and guard Marquis Wright, who de-committed and followed Patsos to Siena. Smith is confident the Greyhounds will be competitive behind senior Dylon Cormier — the team’s leading scorer in 2012-13 — and forward Jordan Latham and guard R.J. Williams.
“There are some things we are going to differently than when Jimmy was here and there are some things we will do the same,” Smith said. “Hopefully we get the right mix and can maintain the success. We won 23 and 24 games the last couple of years. Obviously, I don’t want to change too much because we must have been doing something right and we can keep this thing rolling in the right direction.”
Boston University fully expects to not only be competitive in their inaugural season, but don’t be surprised if the Terriers are tabbed as the league favorite when the pre-season poll is announced in late October.
If that is the welcome gift bestowed by his new peers, BU coach Joe Jones insists they won’t run from the label.
“That won’t affect us,” said Jones, about to begin his third season on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. “It might be bulletin board material for other teams, but I am not concerned with where we are picked. We have a lot to prove.”
On paper, Boston University would stack up favorably in any mid-major conference. The Terriers return their top seven players from a 17-13 squad that participated in the CollegeInsider postseason tournament (CIT) a year ago.
Senior guard D.J. Irving returns following an All-America East first team campaign in which he finished in the top-5 in both league scoring and assists. Dom Morris and freshman Maurice Watson Jr. were named to the third team and John Papale joined Watson on the All-Rookie team.
“Without this senior class, we wouldn’t be where we are,” Jones said, referring to Irving, Morris and Travis Robinson. “They are great leaders and it pays off in so many ways.”
The Terriers played against — and lost to — fellow new Patriot League entrant Loyola in the CIT postseason to end the 2012-13 season.
Jones indicated he is familiar with many of the PL teams and coaches from his seven seasons at Columbia (2003-10), but for now is primarily focused on getting his team ready to play.
“We have to learn how eight teams play and travel the right way,” said Jones. “But we have a terrific staff and players. I feel good about our program. We have great kids who will represent the school and the league very well.”