Making History: A Quick Check in with the Men’s Basketball Team

The Colgate Men’s Basketball season has been a major success so far. With the exception of a historic victory at Syracuse University, which saw the Raiders drill a JMA Wireless Dome record 19 threes en route to an 80-68 victory, the beginning of the season was a bit of a disappointment. Over the course of the non-league season, the team went 6-7 with a tough one-point loss to Buffalo in the season opener and an even tougher home loss to Vermont at Cotterell Court prior to winter break. The non-Patriot League season had some fans worried about whether the Raiders could repeat as Patriot League champions. 

Now 12 games into the Patriot League slate, the Raiders have proven any doubters wrong with a dominant 11-1 start. In addition to starting the league season 11-1, the Raiders have managed to win in a variety of ways. They have won blowouts, such as the league opener at Loyola MD, where the Raiders put up a staggering 101 points. 

Senior guard Tucker Richardson spoke about the team’s exciting performance in the Patriot League:

“Starting off with 11 straight wins in league play has been really special for our team and program. It proves that when we play well, we can be a really special team. However, we also know that the games that really matter happen later on when we get to the playoffs, so our goal is to be playing best when that part of the season comes around.”

More importantly, however, the Raiders have won a handful of close encounters. Two close league games come to mind when addressing the “league win of the season” thus far. 

Despite being the home opener, the Raiders fell behind by nearly twenty points before 10 minutes elapsed on Jan. 5th against Navy. However, the Raiders found a way to regain momentum as they managed to get the 77-67 win at home. 

Another great win on the year came against American University at home on Jan. 21st. It was a close game throughout, with the lead going back and forth between the Raiders and the Eagles. With under four minutes to play in the game, American held a five-point lead. Despite the late deficit, the Raiders were able to buckle down on defense and hold American scoreless for the last three minutes of the game en route to a 62-61 win on home turf. 

What these two games are indicative of, more than anything, is that this Raiders squad is prepared to do whatever it takes to get a win. Whether the game calls for a barrage of three-pointers or a grinded-out effort in the paint, the Raiders know what needs to be done to get a win.

Unfortunately, the Raiders lost a heartbreaker at American University on Saturday, Feb. 4th. The game was in reach, but a combination of stagnant offense, costly turnovers and big shotmaking by American guards late in the game resulted in the Raiders losing their first conference game. 

Junior forward Jeff Woodward elaborated on the loss:

“I think the team has been really focused after the loss. Obviously winning is great, but sometimes losing teaches you more about what we need to focus on moving forward. We know what we need to work on and how to improve. And now we’re looking to bounce back by really getting back to the things that make us a great team and ensure we’re peaking at the right time headed into the tournament.”

Despite the perfect start coming to an end, it can be argued that this was a much-needed loss in the context of the Patriot League Tournament. Without this loss, it was a real possibility that the Raiders could finish the league season undefeated, which, in my opinion, would put an immense amount of pressure on the players to become the first-ever team to win the Patriot League after an undefeated season. 

Despite the recent loss, the season has seen the Raiders become Patriot League record-breakers. Not only had they jumped out to a school-record 11-0 league start, the team has also broken a Patriot League record by winning 24 consecutive league games after the Jan. 21 victory over American University.

Junior forward Sam Thomson spoke to the team’s energy heading into the final stretch of the season:

“We’ve started the season well. Winning 11 games to open the year is fantastic for the program. However, we have yet to play our best basketball and we continue to get better every single day. We are always focused on the next game, never looking ahead but just being in the moment. Preparing for the next team we have to play is always our top priority. Doing our best in the remainder of the regular season schedule is integral to secure home-court advantage for the playoffs.”

Looking ahead, the Raiders host three more home games as they look to secure the number one seed for the Patriot League tournament. The Raiders host Lehigh on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Cotterell court. Be sure to catch your Raiders at home before the season ends to see what all the hype is about, and to support our extremely talented and kind peers as they look to end the season with some strong performances.