Tag: Jesse Reed


Improved American team ready to defend Patriot League title in 2014-2015

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Moments after losing to Wisconsin, 75-35, in the NCAA tournament, first-year American head coach Mike Brennan gathered his team inside the Bradley Center locker room. His message was similar to the one he gave the team when he took over the program 11 months earlier.

“The biggest thing he told us after the game was we still had a lot to improve on,” starting point guard Darius “Pee Wee” Gardner told NBCSports.com last month. “We had a big year, but we had to take away from this season was that we still had more to improve on.”

That focus has carried over into the offseason workouts and into practice, as the Eagles shift from a surprise team that defied preseason polls in 2013-2014 to the reigning champion with a target on its back this season.

At this time last season, American was slotted ninth in the Patriot League’s preseason coaches poll.

“Last year we had a lot of doubts,” leading scorer Jesse Reed said. “We had a new coach and a bunch of new players who hadn’t had much play time. There was a lot unknown, but we had confidence that we could have a good season. It was an internal thing.”

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American kicked off Patriot League play with 10 consecutive wins, including a 30-point home win over Boston University. But as the law of averages evened out over the course of the next five games, the Eagles dropped four of five, relinquishing first place to BU in the process.

“I think we snuck up on some teams,” Brennan told NBCSports.com. “Second time around through the league was a little more difficult. Teams had a better sense to what we were doing.

The Eagles regrouped to reverse that trend, winning four of the last five to put them into the championship game. On the road in the Patriot League title game, American held BU, which shot threes at a 39 percent clip, to just 36 points, and forced the Terriers into a 1-for-17 shooting night from beyond the arc.

The key piece to that team defense — ranked 51st in that nation in adjusted defensive efficiency — was Tony Wroblicky, the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and first team all-league selection. The 6-foot-10 center is the only starter Brennan lost, but he’ll need a committee to replace him.

“Tony was special for us,” Brennan said. “He did a lot of things for us. We have some other guys who are pretty good basketball players. They won’t fill Tony’s shoes, but they’ll be able to contribute in their own way.”

Jonathan Davis and Kevin Panzer join the program after sitting out last season following their transfers from George Washington and Nevada, respectively. Zach Elcano, the 6-foot-11 sophomore, saw time in 16 games as a freshman while Gabe Brown, a 7-foot freshman, adds depth to the frontline. Like last season, as the offense adjusted to the Princeton offense, incorporating four new bigs into its defense will take time.

“[Tony] was a big part of our defense,” Reed added. “I’m hoping those guys will have a similar impact, protecting the rim and being in help-side defense. It’s going to take a lot of work getting our defense back in the swing of things.”

Those newcomers in the middle surround the four returning starters, which include Reed, the team’s leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, Gardner, a second-team all-Patriot League selection and John Schoof, the third returning Eagle to average double figures last season.

The words Brennan said seven months ago in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — on the heels of a 40-point blowout — resonated with his perimeter attack of upperclassmen. Yes, it was an accomplishment to reach the NCAA tournament (the third time for American in six years), but the Badgers bludgeoned the Eagles en route to a Final Four appearance. The consolation for American was it provided the perfect blend: the thrill of postseason play and the bitter taste of a nationally-televised beatdown. That mixed feeling has been integrated into the offseason workouts because like they know first-hand, the Patriot League is always up for grabs.

“Look at us last year, “Reed said. “We weren’t suppose to challenge anyone.”

2014-2015 Season Preview: American is the favorite in a competitive Patriot League

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Last season, the Patriot League had five teams recorded 10 or more conference wins. In the end it game down to a pair of 20-win teams in the Patriot League Tournament championship game, as preseason favorite, Boston University, hosted the league’s surprise team, American. The Eagles ended up punching their ticket to the school’s first NCAA tournament since 2009.

It was a great first season for American head coach Mike Brennan, taking a team picked ninth in the league’s preseason poll to the Big Dance, and for Year 2 he’ll have the bulk of his roster back, including Jesse Reed, Darius ‘Pee Wee’ Gardner and John Schoof. American’s only lost one key piece, but it is a huge loss as Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Tony Wroblicky graduated. The Eagles will look to several newcomers to the program to help fill the void in the Eagles’ defense.

Holy Cross, like American, exceeded expectations, finishing third and earning a bid in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Crusaders also lose a top player in forward Dave Dudzinski, but the Crusaders do bring back seven players from last season’s rotation, including Malcolm Miller and Anthony Thompson. Lafayette has the tools to make a jump back up the conference standings with arguably the league’s top player in Seth Hinrichs, as well as Nick Lindner, a 2013-2014 All-Rookie team selection.

Bucknell won six of its final seven games last season, and while the Bison lose Patriot League Player of the Year Cameron Ayers, they do have Chris Hass, an all-league caliber player. The only loss Bucknell suffered in those final seven games was to Army, which finished fifth in the conference standings last season. Kyle Wilson and his league-leading 18.4 points per game is back for the Black Knights.

Last season’s preseason favorite, BU, graduated D.J. Irving and Dom Morris while losing Mo Watson to transfer. The Terriers do have John Papale and adds transfers Blaise Mbargorba (SMU) and Eric Fanning (Wagner).


The 6-foot-8 forward was averaging 20.2 points and 5.7 boards through the first nine games of the 2013-2014 season before a knee injury sidelined him for the next 10. Upon his return he recorded a pair of double-doubles en route to 16.3 points and 6.1 boards per game, earning third team all-Patriot League honors. The versatile forward is one of three returning starters for a conference contender.


  • Jesse Reed, American: The leading scorer and top returning rebounder for the reigning Patriot League champion.
  • Kyle Wilson, Army: The 6-foot-4 junior guard was a unanimous all-Patriot League first team selection last season, averaging a conference-leading 18.4 points per game.
  • Darius ‘Pee Wee Gardner, American: The 5-foot-9 floor general averaged 11.3 points and 4.2 assists per game for the Eagles; earned second-team all-league honors.
  • John Papale, Boston University: With the departure of Watson, Irving and Morris, the 6-foot-3 junior guard will be asked to carry a heavier load for the Terriers.



1. American
2. Holy Cross
3. Lafayette
4. Army
5. Boston University
6. Bucknell
7. Colgate
8. Lehigh
9. Loyola (MD)
10. Navy

2014 NCAA Tournament Primer: American Eagles

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Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

Conference: Patriot League

Coach: Mike Brennan

Record: 20-12 (13-5)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 115
– RPI: 135
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: 16

Names you need to know: G Jesse Reed (14.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg), C Tony Wroblicky (12.1, 7.3, 3.0 apg), G Darius Gardner (11.3, 3.7, 4.2 apg)

Stats you need to know: American led the Patriot League in scoring (59.4 ppg allowed), field goal percentage (41.5%) and three-point percentage (32.3%) defense this season, and the Eagles’ work on that end of the floor was the biggest reason why they managed to win the automatic bid. A good man-to-man team, American also made very good use of the 2-3 zone in the second half of its 55-36 win over Boston University in the Patriot League title game. Offensively they aren’t a high-scoring team but American has four players averaging double figures, and they led the Patriot League in field goal percentage (49.3%) and ranked fourth in three-point percentage.

Tendencies: That offensive balance, with Reed and Wroblicky leading the way, is one of American’s best assets. And in their win over BU guard Darius Gardner stepped forward, scoring 18 points to go along with four assists and three rebounds. Tempo is key for Mike Brennan’s team, as they were ranked 342nd nationally in adjusted tempo per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Making teams play a full 35 seconds on both ends of the floor puts American in the best position to win.

Big wins, bad losses: American won two of its three games against the regular season champion BU, including an 86-56 home win in January. There were no major wins of note in non-conference play, and the Eagles dropped Patriot League road games at Lafayette and Loyola (MD).

How’d they get here?: Won the Patriot League tournament, beating Boston University 55-36 in the title game.

Outlook: It’s difficult to see the Eagles winning a game next week, but it was also difficult for many to see this group contending in the Patriot League back in October. Pace will be critical, and controlling it can be difficult against the caliber of opponent they’re likely to face.

How do I know you?: Despite being led by a first-year head coach in Brennan, American began Patriot League play with ten straight wins. And they’ll be making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009.