It is perhaps the great unknown going into the 2013-14 season: How will Boston University men’s hoops fit in now that it’s in the Patriot League?
Asked that very question late last month at the Massachusetts basketball media day, BU coach Joe Jones said there’s no way to know.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I like my team. I would think that we could be in the hierarchy right away, but I won’t know ‘til we get out and play. Some people will anoint us the champs because we have all our guys back, but I don’t know if that gives us the right to think that we should be the champions because we didn’t play in that league last year.
“So for me, I just want us to be the best team that we can be and get better as the year goes on. And I think the rest of this will take care of itself.”
On Thursday, the Terriers were unanimously picked to finish first in the Patriot League in their first season as a member. Jones’ team received 18 first-place votes and 162 total points in the annual preseason poll.
Lafayette was picked to finish second (130 points), followed by Army (115), Bucknell (113), Loyola Maryland (109), Lehigh (93), Holy Cross (70), Colgate (49), American (36) and Navy (23).
Senior guard D.J. Irving, who led the Terriers with 14.2 points per game in 2012-13, was picked as the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year.
The Terriers went 17-13 in their final season in the America East, winning nine of their final 12 games. They return most of their key pieces, including Irving, Dom Morris, John Papale, Travis Robinson and Maurice Watson Jr.
The preseason predictions of success are all well and good, and the Terriers will take them gladly, but Jones said all the talk won’t mean anything unless his players perform to their potential on the court in this first season in the Patriot League.
“You’re talking about a lot of really good programs, a lot of very good coaches and a lot of terrific academic institutions,” Jones said. “We know it’s gonna be a huge challenge and we’re excited about that. I think it’s a little bit of a different brand of basketball and our guys are gonna have to get used to that.
“These teams are gonna be much more calculated in what they’re doing on both ends of the floor. They’re gonna take care of the bask a little bit better. They’re gonna understand the scouting report a little bit better. So we have to be ready for that.”
The season tips off for the Terriers on Nov. 10, when they take on Northeastern in their annual rivalry game. This season, that matchup comes in the Coaches vs. Cancer tripleheader at TD Garden, which also includes Boston College-UMass-Amherst and Harvard-Holy Cross.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.