I thought Reed basically had to pull C.J. there for reasons other than the two fouls. It would have been one thing if he were ripping things up and already had 10 points, and it would have been another thing if Tu was on fire and they sorely needed C.J.’s defense. But both Tu and C.J. and 2 points between them at that point, and I thought the rest would do C.J. good and have him come back strong in the second half. IMO, he was not the same player in that game – whether it was distractions, playing 2 high-pressure games in 2 days, I don’t know.
I think way too much emphasis is being put on C.J. “not carrying the team” or something. C.J. is obviously a special player, but there are a lot more people on the floor than just C.J. Not to make excuses, but every player on the court had a chance to make buckets in the second half, and it wasn’t done. You can’t shoot under 20% in the second half and hope to win in the NCAA tournament.
I think you have to make it a learning experience, kind of like how the football team took the Delaware loss in the playoffs in 2010 and used it to springboard the following year. It’s a tough loss, sure. But the gap between Xavier and Lehigh, as everyone is pointing out, isn’t that big. What can be done next year to get to not just win a game, but reach the Sweet Sixteen? More conditioning? Being, perhaps, just a tiny bit tougher? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that losing to Delaware was a huge inspiration to the Lehigh football team this year.
If C.J. returns for his senior year, I am licking my chops thinking about B.J., M Squared and C.J. in that backcourt. It could be the best team in Lehigh history.