. . . the rest of a dreary night for the Patriot League

Corky Blake's lead from the Express-Times story on Lehigh's 55-45 loss to Cornell:
Through 13 games the question still lingers: Is Lehigh ready to defend its Patriot League basketball championship?
Corky, buddy, pal ... are you serious?

Corky knows the game too well. As we have said before, he is one of the best writers on the Patriot League beat. We're not sure why he posed it as a question instead of an answer, but if he truly wonders, he would be one of the few, outside of maybe Lehigh's athletic department, who seriously thinks the Mountain Hawks have any chance of contending in the league.

Hey, they might surprise us all. Stranger things have happened.

Just look at how Bucknell's youngsters got hot in conference play last year.

Realistically, though, even before they lost at home (box score) to the dregs of the Ivy League, the more honest question about Lehigh would seem to be "Is Lehigh ready to beat out its rivals from Lafayette for the No. 4 seed in the Patriot League tournament?

Speaking of the Leopards, before reading too much into their 79-64 loss at St. Francis (NY) (box score) last night, be aware they played without Andrei Capusan and Pat Betley, who both sat out with injuries. On top of that, Jamaal Douglas was injured in the first half, though he returned and played 14 minutes in the second half.

Capusan's injury appears to be chronic. According to the Lafayette pregame notes, he has "retro calcaneal bursitis that has been accompanied by achilles tendonitis. The ailment has caused pain for Capusan when he runs and jumps." Betley sat out several games earlier in the season due to a concussion and also has had shin problems.

No word yet on their status for Saturday against Navy.

Rounding out a dreadful night for the Patriots, Columbia bounced back from its loss at Lafayette to beat winless (remember, D-3s don't count) Army, 75-59 (box score).

Too early to tell what all this will mean to the conference's RPI, though it can't be good. Already this week, Navy's loss at Air Force was enough to drop the Patriot down a spot to No. 24, behind the Atlantic Sun (that link if for those who say: Who the hell is in the Atlantic Sun?), after cresting at No. 23 in the wake of Sunday's fine showing by PL teams.

What we do know is that with Lehigh and Army losing to Ivies, the season series between the two conferences now stands at Ivies 11, Patriots 7, with four games to play, including tonight's Dartmouth at Holy Cross matchup.

Since Army doesn't play in any of those four, we're not ready to ship the mythical trophy to the Ivies just yet. But since one of those is Navy at Columbia (Jan. 17) and another is Penn at Lafayette (Jan. 18), we will stop at the UPS store for some styrofoam peanuts and packing tape.

The other remaining PL-Ivy game is Jan. 10, American at Yale. Maybe we should start filling out the shipping label now, eh?

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