I agree with the eventual tightening of a mainly 7 man rotation of CJ, HG, GK, BJB, MM, JC and DC. Probably mix in minutes for a couple additional bigs (CB and JG), and a few minutes for shooters (AD and SC), and limited backup minutes for CS at the point.
This team’s strength is going to be athleticism. That is why they can beat a team like a Bucknell, which has good players, but not the athletes that Lehigh has right now. For that reason, I give Lehigh a slight edge over the Bison this season. But, you will need to play disciplined basketball to beat Bucknell.
I don’t see the necessary athleticism in the CS, SC and CB class. Those guys are all limited. CS can run the show in limited action, but his handle is not tremendous and neither is his shooting. He also is lacking in foot speed, which makes him a liability on the perimeter. I do like that he shoots a high percentage from the line, which is key for a PG. SC can stroke it, for sure, but he is a one trick pony at this point of his career. He needs to develop some ability to create off the dribble and get his own shot. Currently, he relies exclusively on stuff that has to be run for him (screens and picks). CB, hopefully, can be a meat and potatoes guy on the low block. But, again, you have to hope he can rebound and play D, as I see no offensive low post moves (drop step, fade away J, hook, face up game). I only see him scoring off the offensive glass. And, with AD out of the next class, I don’t know what he is at this point. Is he a shooter? Is he offense off the bench? Can he slash? Lot of unknowns. Outside of his Wagner winner and the freshman outburst at Penn St, he is a bit of an enigma. We know what he is not, a lockdown defender.
To get minutes under this coach, you need to show a willingness to defend, particularly on the perimeter, and AD, CS, and SC are far below average on the defensive end. That, to me, is the crucial factor why their minutes will be limited. I am hopeful that DC and JC have the quickness and willingness to defend. I think JG is going to be more of an eraser at the glass. Long arms, shot blocking, wing span.
Finally, I think the coaching staff needs to look at the long term goal here … NCAA bid. That road is going through Bucknell, no doubt about it. With the Bison, you have a given in Muscala that needs to be limited. Gabe is really your only answer on him. He will eat CB alive inside and out, as he gives up way too much size and experience. Maybe a guy like JG can limit him on the low block, but with his inexperience and thin body, mismatch. With GK, you hopefully offset him by what Gabe can do on the offensive end. Then, outside of Muscala, you need to matchup in the other positions. CJ can match Ayers, no worries there. Bison are soft at the point, no real worries there for MM. Johnson is a one dimensional player from 3, so you have a stopper for him in BJB on the perimeter. But, the key to stopping the Bison is Willman. He is big and skilled, and deadly in the midrange jump shooting game. You need a player to stop or limit him. When I look at the Lehigh bench, I don’t see that player as CB (too small and slow to guard away from the hoop). AD, too small. HG too slight on the block. I think that is where you need Chuku. A big body who can match the size of Willman, and can hopefully stay with him in the midrange game. It’s all about the matchups. Bucknell played Lehigh super tough, because they had an answer for CJ in Cohen. Lehigh needs an answer for Willman this season in the 2, probably 3 matchups. Muscala is probably going to get his, and CJ will as well, but you need to limit that second scorer, which projects to be Willman. I am hopeful Dominic Hoffman is not quite ready as a freshman, or else Lehigh is going to need more size upfront.
We all want Lehigh to have another dream season, but let’s not kid ourselves, there is no way Lehigh (no matter their record) is getting an at-large out of the PL. So, you need to take care of business with Bucknell, first and foremost, as I don’t see any other significant challengers in the league. Gate, Army and Navy will be awful, Pards not much better, maybe equal or worse, which leaves only HC and American, who on paper do not look great.