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College basketball preview: American University Eagles

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AMERICAN EAGLES

Coach: Jeff Jones. 12th season, 182-150; 328-254 overall

Key Player: F Troy Brewer. The team's only returning starter will be saddled with plenty of responsibility during his senior season, particularly on the offensive end. In light of the departures of leading big men Vlad Moldoveanu (20.4 ppg) and Stephen Lumpkins (13.5 ppg), Brewer will need to use his athletic ability to attack the basket more than ever this season.

Biggest Loss:CStephen Lumpkins. Lumpkins' sudden departure for minor league baseball in July left the coaching staff with an unexpected void that will be difficult to fill. His exit means the center spot will be a position run by committee, with Riley Grafft and Daniel Fisher backing up Tony Wroblicky underneath.

Best Addition:FJohn Schoof. In addition to his experience in big games at the high school and AAU levels, Schoof has impressed coaches with his versatility and intelligence in practice. Jones - hardly known for his willingness to play freshmen - has indicated Schoof will start on the wing opposite Brewer.

Best Case: Jones' unheralded lineup replicates the success of his team three years ago, which relied heavily on its backcourt to overcome low expectations en route to a league title. A third-place finish might be the best this team can hope for at the conclusion of the regular season, though the all-important tournament title is always up for grabs.

Worst Case: Instability in the frontcourt could spell trouble for a team that must contend with the likes of Mike Muscala, Bucknell's dominant 6-11 center that poses headaches for coaches around the league. Add that to a lack of scoring balance and the Eagles could finish with a similar record to the 2009-10 season, when they went 11-20.

Key Games:

* At Richmond, Nov. 11. Intriguing test in season opener against a Sweet 16 team

* At Lehigh, Jan. 11. Tough road contest that will test team's mettle

* Bucknell, Feb. 23. Second-to-last home game against conference's top team

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