The Washington Times - December 16, 2009, 07:50PM

In less than an hour, what amounts to American’s second season will begin.

The Eagles struggled to a 1-8 start before a break for final exams. The last game was a 73-46 loss to Georgetown – not an unexpected result, but reflective of how things have gone to date for Jeff Jones‘ youthful outfit.

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But the end of the semester also brings a vital new face – forward Vlad Moldoveanu, who transferred at midseason from George Mason last year.

The junior is eligible to play tonight at DePaul. There’s little question he’ll change the dynamic of American’s team. How much remains in question.

“It’s hard for me to really quantify,” Jones said after the Georgetown game. “I think he will make a difference. He gives us a guy who is our best shooter. He’s our best post player. I think he can become maybe a settling factor for us. But I think it would unfair to him and unreasonable to heap too many expectations on him.”

The interesting thing about Moldoveanu is his numbers didn’t exactly stand out at Mason – averages of 2.3 points and 2.1 rebounds over 38 games. Most of that was earned as a reserve on the 2008 CAA title team in which Will Thomas and Louis Birdsong started in the frontcourt and Chris Fleming earned additional time off the bench.

Coaches have a way of looking past numbers (see how much value Maryland coach Gary Williams placed on the recent return of Dino Gregory), and it’s not like it’s a fair comparison in this case. Moldoveanu is going to play – a lot. That’s not in question. How quick there’s an impact might be.

“It’s been a while since he played, and he’s playing a much different role than he played at George Mason,” Jones said. “He’s playing a different role than he did at St. John’s [in high school]. Quite honestly, at St. John’s he had a great career but he also had [current Georgetown point guard] Chris Wright right there taking most of the shots.”

There will be shots to take at American. Stephen Lumpkins is the only Eagle averaging more than 10 points. Nick Hendra was the lone scorer in double figures against Georgetown.

“I think Vlad will definitely help us,” Jones said. “How much remains to be seen.”

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Patrick Stevens