By Kevin McGuire
Name: Nick Lindner #11
University: Lafayette University
Weight: 166 lb
Hometown: Doylestown, PA
Lafayette is one giant step closer to winning its first Patriot League championship since 2000. After a big win this weekend on the road against top-seed Bucknell, the Leopards will now host defending Patriot League champion American in the Patriot League championship game Wednesday night. Win, and Lafayette will go dancing looking to play the role of Cinderella with hopes the slipper will fit. With sophomore point guard Nick Lindner stepping up in a big way down the stretch, who knows just what story will unfold for Lafayette?
“It’s a dream come true,” Lindner said of the chance to play for the Patriot League title to City of Basketball Love’s Josh Verlin. Lafayette coming this close does not happen all too often, and getting there certainly did not come with ease. Lafayette’s road win at Bucknell was just the first time in school history winning at Bucknell’s Sojka Pavilion. It also marked the first time in the history of the Patriot League tournament the Patriot League’s top seed will not play for the men’s basketball championship.
The Germantown Academy product out of Doylestown has long been a key part of a 1-2 combo for Lafayette this season. Along with Australian forward Dan Trist, Lindner has led the offensive charge for Lafayette in each of the last four games. Lindner has scored 23 points in back-to-back games in the Patriot League tournament. His ability to run the offense and move the Leopards down the court has helped Lafayette find a groove at the best possible time.
The performance against Bucknell is commendable, but Lindner played a key role in helping Lafayette pick up revenge against Boston. Boston blew out Lafayette to end the 2013-2014 season for the Leopards, but the quarterfinal match-up this season was a far different story. Lindner led Lafayette with 23 points, five assists and a steal.
If Lafayette reaches the tournament, Lindner will be one of the key players to watch.
Lindner gives Lafayette a chance to take advantage of the opposition’s miscues in the offensive zone by moving into transition well. Transition and converting offensive opportunities into points is the mark of any potential Cinderella team this time of year. Lafayette is far from Florida Gulf Coast of a few years ago, but their draw in the NCAA tournament will be an uphill battle if Lindner and the Leopards are fortunate to win Wednesday’s Patriot League title game. Being placed in the opening round against another potential No. 16 seed in Dayton means Lafayette would have to win one more game before getting a chance to go head-to-head with a number one seed, perhaps even Villanova.
But before anyone can start thinking about a possible match-up with local appeal between the Wildcats and Leopards, Lindner and Lafayette must first win one more game. The Patriot League is one that will only send one team to the big dance, and Lafayette has quite a home court advantage in this situation. Lafayette is 9-0 all-time at home in Patriot League tournament games. Lindner contributed 17 points and four assists and a steal earlier this season at home against American, complimenting Trist’s 25-point effort. Lindner was four-for-four from the free throw line and six-of-eight from inside the three-point line. If Lindner can duplicate that kind of effort, he and Lafayette will be getting their dancing shoes ready for next week.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.