American University has been selected to repeat as Patriot League men's basketball champions, according to a poll of the league's coaches and sports information directors released Thursday.
Speaking at the league's media day event, coach Jeff Jones pointed out that his team will only play 11 home games. But he said his biggest obstacle during the preseason has been finding a way to meld his seven seniors with five incoming freshmen.
"The divide is certainly a challenge to allow the veteran guys to move forward," Jones said. "At the same time, I don't want to overwhelm those young freshmen."
American's top player is expected to be 5-foot-11 guard Garrison Carr, the preseason pick for Patriot League player of the year. Carr led the league in scoring last year (18.4 points per game) and had 26 in the 72-57 loss to Tennessee.
The Eagles received 14 of 16 first-place votes; Holy Cross received the other two. The Eagles garnered 98 points, finishing ahead of Lehigh (75), Holy Cross (68), Colgate (67), Bucknell (47), Navy (46), Army (29) and Lafayette (18).
AU will start the season without 2 of its starters from last year's Patriot League Championship. Senior Bryce Simon, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament during last season's Patriot League Tournament, reinjured his right knee during the off-season and will not be ready until January. Center Cornelio Guibunda, who earned his degree last spring, has decided not to return for his final season of eligibility.
American opens its season on November 14th against Oklahoma before raising a Patriot League Championship banner at Bender Arena in the home opener November 17th against St. Francis of Pennsylvania.