You play to win the game. You also play so that you're in position to peak at the right time and…
Second Basketball Scouting Report: Lafayette
Army's narrow loss to Boston University was obviously infused with a certain degree of frustration – no one likes to see a second-half lead go to waste – but that was a dress rehearsal, and nothing more, for the Patriot League Tournament. As long as Army can get one extra defensive stop or one more basket against Boston (and American), it could still realize its dream of playing in the NCAA tournament.
The Black Knights can use a good test heading into the Patriot League Tournament, and they should get one on Saturday against the Lafayette Leopards. Unlike other teams in the league, Lafayette is getting healthier as the season goes along, as you'll read below.
Unlike Loyola (Maryland), a team that was initially competitive but then collapsed after its leading scorer, Dylon Cormier, went down with an injury, Lafayette was helpless in the Patriot League for a long stretch of time before getting its star scorer back. The Leopards were 0-9 in the conference, but when Seth Hinrichs returned, the team found the scoring punch it had been missing. Lafayette has won six of eight to move to 6-11 in the league and become a legitimate threat as a low seed in the Patriot League Tournament. This team could be a dangerous floater I in the tourney precisely because of Hinrichs.
Forward – Dan Trist – Junior, 6-9, 246; 2013-14: 13 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.2 assists per game
Trist's production has remained very steady throughout the Patriot League season. That he did so for a number of weeks in Hinrichs' absence makes his performance that much more commendable.
Guard – Seth Hinrichs – Freshman, 6-7, 182 2013-14: 16.1 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game
Hinrichs rejoined the lineup on Jan. 27, but he didn't score more than six points in his first two games back. He then hummed along, reclaiming the full range of his gifts and abilities for five games, but in his last two outings, he's been held to a combined total of 8 points on 3-of-17 shooting. Defenses are throwing everything at Hinrichs, and he's showing signs of buckling. Army can hold him down… and the Black Knights must if they're going to win.
Guard – Bryce Scott – Sophomore, 6-3, 188; 2013-14: 11.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 apg
Scott's scoring average is down 3.5 points since Jan. 2. He did not handle the loss of Hinrichs well, but that context is different now. Lafayette is still evolving as a team, an odd but real thing to say in light of Hinrichs's prolonged midseason absence.
Guard – Nick Lindner – Freshman, 5-10, 161; 2013-14: 10.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 4 apg
Lindner is still the primary facilitator and distributor for Lafayette's offense. Making it hard for him to share the ball must remain a part of Army's defensive plan.
Guard – Joey Ptasinski – Junior, 6-2, 174; 2013-14: 11.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.9 apg
You can see that Lafayette has placed all five starters in double figures in terms of scoring averages. One key note: No one on the Leopards' bench averages more than 3.8 points per game.
Keys to the Game
1) Make Hinrichs work, and keep him away from the foul line. Hinrichs can't be allowed to see the ball go through the basket a lot in the first 10 minutes of the game.
2) Match Trist's energy and work ethic. Hinrichs is the main engine of the Lafayette offense, but Trist is engine number two. Army has to be able to hold him in check.