With an upgrade to the Atlantic 10, the Patriots will confront bigger and stronger players. Coach Paul Hewitt emphasized the importance of meeting physical goals in the preseason. “It’s one thing to play against teams that are physical every fifth or eighth game [in the CAA], but to do it every game can be a grind. We don’t want to turn them all into bodybuilders, but we realized we would need a little bit of a bump in strength and speed.”
At 6 foot 8 and 250 pounds, Erik Copes (right) is well equipped for Atlantic 10 rigors. He will have to prove himself on two fronts: returning from a six-game suspension to start the campaign and establishing himself after a season marred by a hip injury. He blocked 90 shots in two years while playing an average of 20.6 minutes per game. Johnny Williams (6-8, 260) will complement Copes after missing last season with a shoulder injury.
Corey Edwards and Bryon Allen shared point guard responsibilities for much of the previous two years, but as he proved the second half of last season, Allen is best on the wing. He will remain there, leaving the playmaking responsibilities to the 5-11 Edwards, who isn’t much of a scorer but made 30 of 60 three-pointers in 2012-13. The third back-court starter, Sherrod Wright, averaged 16.6 points as a junior and is a preseason second-team A-10 pick.
— Steven Goff