This is a big season for the future of the basketball program, no doubt. We should on paper have one of our best, if not the best, teams in the history of the program. It is imperative, if we want the program to continue to build to a long term winner, that we finally get support from the students, university and the Lehigh Valley. 800 fans at a home game is not going to cut it any more, if we want to build a real program. We need to get Stabler to be a dominant home court for us, where we can put at least 2500 in the seats for home games, and near capacity for the larger games. If they can put in another season like last year, with fan support of the community, retain Reed, and continue to attract better quality athletes to campus, they have a chance for relevancy. If we continue to draw the same interest as past years, we are doomed to be a relevant program in the PL a few times every decade and little more. With the home schedule shaping up like it is, it is going to be tough to draw big crowds. I wonder if they are having any additional success with season tickets, and if they can start to get 1,000 students or more at each home game.
The beauty of lacrosse and wrestling for Lehigh is they can attract Top 20 teams to come play on campus. People want to see those teams play, which is why you can get 5,000 at a wrestling match and 2,500 at a lacrosse game. Basketball is never going to have that luxury. But, we should be making every effort to bump up the program’s interest to the level seen at Bucknell. Certainly, not impossible, but they have to make the students passionate about basketball.
What always gives me hope about basketball is you only need to get a few studs on the team to be good. And, in this era of one and done basketball players at the higher levels, the mid-majors are more competitive than ever. The mid-majors can build senior laden teams that are tough come tournament time. There are also a number of ways to skin a cat in recruiting. A team like Loyola (MD) has done it with transfers. Whether that can be done now with an academic index is in question. Colgate this year is bringing in 4 new players, none directly from high school in the traditional manner. They have a Euro guy from Spain, who played one year of PG basketball in a US high school. They have a JUCO player from Alaska. And, they have a transfer from Monmouth and a transfer from Ohio U. With European and African players, JUCOs and transfers, you can build something very quickly (although much tougher in the PL). Every tradition has to start somewhere, and hopefully CJ is what starts ours.