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 Riding High Into Playoffs

Colgate Athletics / Olivia Hokanson

With their win over Lafayette College on Monday, March 19, Colgate University men’s basketball team secured their fifth consecutive Patriot League regular season championship. While Colgate students have come to expect excellence from this Raiders squad, this group has been tested this season. 

Colgate played their most challenging non-conference schedule in recent history, as well as one of the top 50 hardest non-conference schedules, according to Head Coach Matt Langel. Yet the Raiders remain 22-9 overall and 16-2 in Patriot League play. 

Senior Forward Jeff Woodward spoke on the early days of the 2023-24 season.

“I think our non-conference play was huge for us this year. We played the toughest schedule out of conference since I’ve been here. Almost every team is at or near the top of their respective conference,” Woodward said. 

One of only two league contests dropped by the Raiders was against Lafayette back on Jan. 10, losing 64-69. It was the first time the two had met since Colgate beat the Leopards to win the Patriot League Championship in March 2023. It was Colgate’s first at-home Patriot League loss in three years, with the Raiders trailing the entire time. Still, Colgate posted an impressive performance — particularly fifth-year Ryan Moffat, who put up his first career double-double.

When Colgate tipped off against Lafayette for the second time this season, the memory of the loss only added fuel to their fire. The contest in Easton, Pa., was televised nationally, and both sides truly put on a show. There were 12 lead changes and 10 different instances in which the scores were tied as Lafayette sought to prevent Colgate from securing the regular season championship. 

While this championship does not guarantee Colgate another banner to decorate Cotterell Court, it does guarantee that should the Raiders reach the Patriot League championship game, it will be taking place at home. The first game of postseason Patriot League basketball for the Raiders took place on Thursday, Feb. 29, and unfortunately for Colgate students, it will be the only postseason basketball game before the beginning of spring break.

Despite the legacy Colgate basketball has built for itself, they do not have a complacent mentality, as senior Sam Thompson noted. 

“I think we try to create an underdog mentality within the league. Every year we want to prove to ourselves that we are the best team we can be. One of our key goals as a program is to reach our potential on the court. We do that, but [also need to] just focus on every rep, every practice and every game,” Thompson said. 

Fifth-year Keegan Records echoed this sentiment.

“Managing expectations can sometimes be a hard thing. When it comes down to it, you just have to be focused on getting better every day throughout the season and if we do that, we will put ourselves in the best position to have a successful run in the tournament. Pressure is a privilege,” Records said. 

The Raiders’ other Patriot League loss came on Sunday, Feb. 25, in their last home regular season contest, as American University was able to squeak out a win thanks to a late three-pointer that gave them the win. Four weeks prior, Colgate demolished the Eagles in Washington, D.C., by a score of 73-54, proving their dominance.

Colgate has not gone unrecognized for their success thus far this season. The Patriot League honored sophomore Braeden Smith with Patriot League Player of the Year, the first sophomore to earn the award since the 2014-15 season. Last year, he was honored by the Patriot League’s All-Rookie Team and Colgate Athletics Rookie of the Year recognitions.

It is no surprise that the Raiders picked up a handful of postseason awards, which speaks to their team culture. 

“Our team is full of really hard-working guys,” Thompson said. “We try to reach our potential on the court, in the classroom and in the community every single year. Focusing on being the best version of ourselves in all of those areas is key to our culture as a program.”

Records and Moffat also picked up awards. Records was named to the All-League first team as well as the Patriot League All-Defensive Team. Meanwhile, Moffat was named to the second team.

With Keegan named to the All-Defensive Team, it is clear that the Raiders have stepped up defensively. 

“I think this year’s team is really bought in on the defensive end. We’ve always been an offensively focused team, but this year, we have really put a focus on being a more complete and balanced team,” Woodward said.

The accolades do not end there for the Raiders, as Head Coach Matt Langel picked up his fifth Patriot League Coach of the Year award. Langel is the only head coach in Patriot League history to ever receive five Coach of the Year awards, cementing himself as a legend in the league. 

Players had lots of praise for their coach, as Thompson spoke on the impact Langel has had.

“Langel is a basketball genius — he is extremely focused on placing our players in situations where they will exceed. I think what also makes him unique is his authenticity and how genuine he is. He cares deeply about the players and coaches within this program. I think that encourages guys to work very hard for him and allows us to be the program we are every single day,” Thompson said. 

The Raiders are excited for the postseason, as Records expressed.

“March is the best time of the year — you work all season long to try to put yourself in the best position for the postseason; now, you have to take it one day at a time,” Records said. 

As history shows, March is when the Raiders get hot. With playoffs beginning this week, the men’s basketball shows no sign of slowing down.

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About the Contributor
Caroline Michaud, Sports Editor
Caroline Michaud is a senior from Lexington, MA concentrating in political science and religion. She has previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. On campus, Caroline is involved in a Greek letter organization.

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