Coach: Jeff Jones (59-59 in four seasons at American, 205-163 overall).

Last season: 18-13, 10-4 Patriot League.

The Eagles have made tremendous strides during Jones's tenure, advancing to the Patriot League tournament championship game in each of the past three seasons. But American has come up painfully short each time, losing the league's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

American is expected to battle for the championship again this season, with two starters and five seniors coming back. Sophomore guard Andre Ingram, the Patriot League's preseason player of the year, averaged 13.6 points and led the conference with 78 three-pointers as a freshman.

Sophomore Linas Lekavicius, a native of Lithuania who played at the Miller School in Charlottesville, replaces point guard Andres Rodriguez, who led the conference in assists last season. Senior Jason Thomas, the team's best defender, also starts in the Eagles' three-guard lineup.

"I think losing Andres Rodriguez is a big loss, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity for Linas Lekavicius, who came into our program heralded," Jones said. "I think a lot of our season's hopes are hanging on him developing into the point guard position and being able to hold down that spot."

Jones has beefed up his team's nonconference schedule, starting with tonight's game at Virginia Commonwealth in the Preseason NIT. The Eagles also play at Maryland (Dec. 23) and Missouri (Jan. 4) and host Vermont on Dec. 4 and Ohio on Dec. 11.