The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Men’s Basketball Shoots For Fourth Straight Title

Mary Grygier / Colgate Athletics

Between 1996 and 2018, the Colgate University men’s basketball team did not win a single championship; they went 22 years without a title.

But, in the last five seasons, they have won an astounding four championships — including the last three in a row. With six total championships under their belt, the Raiders are now tied for the most in Patriot League history.

Head Coach Matt Langel, the winningest coach in the program’s history, has been coach for four of those championships and has racked up a laundry list of accolades in his 12 seasons and counting. He has led the Raiders to four 20-win seasons, six consecutive Patriot League championship appearances, and four NCAA tournament appearances.

The Raiders won a program record 26 games and Patriot League record 17 conference games in the 2022-23 season. Statistically, it was the Raiders’ best season in program history and one of the most successful seasons in Patriot League history by any college.

How do you expect to follow up that kind of historic success? Let’s take a look at their roster, schedule and expectations for the 2023-24 season.

The team’s 15-man roster consists of five first years, three sophomores (including one transfer), one junior, four seniors and two fifth years — a great balance of young energy and veteran leadership.

Senior Sam Thomson from Ontario, Canada, spoke about welcoming their new teammates.

“As a team, we have been working hard to introduce our new first-years to our offensive and defensive systems.”

Thomson added that the team went on a trip to France this summer where they visited the Eiffel Tower, Mont Saint-Michel and other historic sites.

“[We got to] bond with the new freshmen and welcome them to our basketball family,” Thomson said of the trip.

Sophomore point guard Braeden Smith — who was the fourth highest scorer on the Raiders and 19th in the Patriot League in just his rookie season — also spoke about the importance of their excursion to France.

“We played a few games and we were able to grow our friendships [and] chemistry throughout the trip,” Smith said.

The team lost four seniors from last year, including Tucker Richardson and Oliver Lynch-Daniels, two of their top three scorers from 22-23. Losing Richardson and Lynch-Daniels will certainly hurt, but the Raiders are welcoming back fifth-years Keegan Records and Ryan Moffatt, who were each among the top five scorers on last year’s squad.

Moffatt, who grew up in Pennsylvania, explained that they have already got to meet and play with the first-years over the summer.

“The team was on campus on two separate occasions over the summer, so it was nice to be able to meet the incoming first-years and try to get them acclimated to the team as soon as possible,” Moffatt said. 

Both Records and Moffatt were elected to the 2023-24 Patriot League Men’s Basketball Preseason All-League Team. Records also took home the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year award, which is no surprise, as he had the second-most blocks in the Patriot League last season.

It is clear that both fifth-years will serve as not only incredible players but also as important leaders for this Raider squad.

In terms of their schedule, the Raiders have 31 total games: 13 non-conference games followed by 18 conference games. They play four Ivy League teams: Brown, Yale, Harvard and Cornell, as well as Arizona (a Pac-12 team) and Illinois (a Big Ten team). 

Their 18 conference games consist of two against every Patriot League team: one home and one away.

A few players shared their thoughts about this year’s schedule. Many emphasized their excitement for the game against Arizona, including senior big man and Pennsylvania native, Jeff Woodward.

“I’m very excited for our game at Arizona. They should be a top 25 team in the nation and it will be a great test for us,” Woodward said.

“We have an extremely difficult non-conference schedule, so we will be getting tested right out of the gate to see where we are at as a team,” Moffatt added.

ESPN ranked Arizona 12th in the nation, and other rankings put Illinois in the top 25 as well. While these games will pose a challenge, they are certainly winnable for this tested Raider team.

Smith, still very early in his career, exhibited his impressive maturity when speaking of the schedule. 

“There are only 31 guaranteed games in a season, so we want to make the most of each game,” Smith said.

What are some of the team’s expectations for this season? They’re high, to say the least.

“We have been working really hard this preseason and I like where we’re at,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to going on the journey of this season with this group of guys.”

“We are hopeful for the upcoming season,” Thomson said. “We have plenty of experienced returners as well as great young talent to work with.”

A few of the players added what areas they will be most focused on. Shooting and defense were some of the areas most frequently mentioned.

“I think defense will be the most important, as we know we can score with anyone in the nation, but playing great defense will allow us to reach new heights,” Woodward said.

“Shooting is always very important to the offense and style of play that we run,” Moffatt added.

Senior guard and Georgia native Chandler Baker added an interesting point about how good defense translates to more possessions — reflecting the intelligence that this team prides itself on.

“Coach always preaches that the team who wins the possession game usually wins the game, and to get more possessions than your opponent, you need stops on defense […],” Baker said.

This team, like their previous seasons, will continue to focus on the fundamentals. The cuts, the screens, the ball movement, the rebounds, the defense and so on. That is what has led to numerous championships and it will continue to guide them this season. It is already what got them unanimously voted first in the Patriot League preseason poll.

It will, of course, be hard to follow up last season — winning 26 of 32 games, the Patriot League championship, breaking numerous program and Patriot League records and making it to March Madness is a tough act to follow.

But with fresh faces, veteran returners, high team morale, good chemistry and an intelligent and careful focus on the fundamentals, these Raiders have their sights set on another historic season.

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