The Dagger - NCAAB

The day before NCAA tournament games, team shoot-arounds held at each site are open to the public. If American University can somehow win the Patriot League tournament this week and secure an automatic bid, the Eagles will add a wildly exciting twist on one of the postseason's more mundane exercises.

AU junior reserve Joe Hill and senior starter Steve Luptak went viral this week with a trick shot compilation video that will rival anything of its kind that you've seen this season … or maybe ever.

The duo's personal favorite among the ridiculous makes is the last one on the video, where a seated Hill lobs a ball striaght up from the 3-point line, then Luptak throws another ball at it, forcing the original ball towards the hoop.

That's the shot that, earlier this season, started it all.

Sort of.

"We were out on the road, either in California at the Cable Car Classic or at Pitt," Luptak recalled. "When we were fooling around doing half-court shots, my ball hit his accidentally in the air and one went in."

One of American's rituals to that point had already been attempting trick shots during loose shoot-around sessions, but Luptak and Hill decided at that moment to try and re-create the magic of their accidental make and build from it.

"That was probably the one that took us the most time," Luptak said. "It took us anywhere from 30 to 40 attempts. It took the most time because we had to chase down the balls every time we missed it.

"If we would try it [now] 10 times, we'd probably make it once. I'd give it a 10 or 20 percent success rate."

As for documenting their exploits, Luptak said that they were inspired by the bevy of trick-shot montages popping up in recent months. Most notably, he said they admired that one of Johnny McEntee, a UConn quarterback who doubles as a trick-throw guru.

Team manager Tiana Hakimzadeh filmed it, and it was then edited by sophomore guard Blake Jolivette.

Luptak and Hill have also taken pleasure this season in scouting opposing teams' gyms as places that would add a degree of difficulty to their tries. Two gyms they've admired in particular to this point are those of league foes Lehigh and Army.

In order to scout out some new sites before his college career comes to an end, though, Luptak — a business major from Munster, Indiana, who wants to pursue a marketing career in Chicago after graduation — will have to help lead the Eagles through the Patriot League tourney.

At 21-8 overall and 11-3 in the league, they drew the No. 2 seed and will host No. 7 Colgate on Wednesday night. It's widely assumed that the odds-on favorite in the bracket is No. 1 Bucknell, who went 13-1 in the conference this season and swept American.

If the tournament plays out by seed, American would play for its third automatic NCAA tourney bid in four years at Bucknell on Friday evening.

"Right now, we're just basically looking at it how we've looked at the season all along," Luptak said. "We have to have a huge game against Colgate tomorrow. Hopefully we take them down and move forward."

But if they get a chance to explore a new, expansive arena in a two weeks?

"We could probably have some fun with that shoot-around," Luptak said with a chuckle.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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