January 5, 2011 at 11:31 pm #3086
As OOC play is now finished, and we get into the league, I think this team is where most of us thought it would be. We haven’t lost many games we shouldn’t (except perhaps Fordham at home and the tough L at Monmouth), nor have we upset anyone we weren’t expected to beat.
No one has played wildly above or wildly below expectations. Mackey has been quite good, but I think a lot of us saw that coming after his senior year of high school. It would be great if he could give us another ROY – although Avila from Navy has been excellent of late. Whatever kept him out of last night’s game, I hope it gets cleared up quickly so he can get back on the ROY campaign trail.
The most dissappointing aspect of the season thus far has to be lack of anyone stepping up into the role as the 5th starter. We have four very solid PL level players right now: CJ, Gabe, Mackey, and Ojo but we need someone ANYONE to step up. Hopefully Greneir can string together a few consecutive solid performances and wrap up that spot for the rest of this year and two more years to come.
Unfortunately, as I watched this team in OOC play, I fear that LUHoops may be right, and that we may waste the CJ "era" if we don’t find some big men – and quick. Gabe is a crafty post scorer and solid rebounder, but not a shot blocker or enforcer. Safstrom has found a way to contribute, but has a limited ceiling and is on his way out the door. It would be fantastic if McCarthy and/or Maneri is able to step up. The time is now as league play starts.
I now am in full agreement with LUhoops about our recruiting class. It’s tough to swallow that we are only bring in one "post" player next year. And he is 6’5/6’6 at that (although I have VERY high hopes for Conroy Baltimore and think he could become quite a find). If we want to beat teams we "shouldn’t" (Penn St., Kent St., USC) – we need big guys we are able to defend and rebound (and perhaps even score) at a high level.
Maybe that person is on our roster now, or maybe he is cmoing to LU next year. But whever he is, we need him to capitalize on CJ’s next 2.5 years.January 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm #3091
SB, you’re not the only one that’s disappointed. I had hoped for far greater things out of Mineri and Adams but at the same time can’t believe the improvment in Safstrom. He certainly has his shortcomings (ball-handling, footwork, and speed) but he’ll battle and come down with some rebounds while causing a few misdirected shots each game. McCarthy, while exhibiting a soft touch around the basket in very limited playng time, will be a project – not to the extent of others who have shown up on South Mountain – but a project nonetheless and perhaps a big contributor in 2012. Back to JM and JA. Check out their minutes played in the last six game:
Aparently, the jury is not longer out. My guess is that we’ll ride out this season with forwards Holden Greiner and Hamilton Jordan. Each will get time. During OOC play it was 14-15 minute per/game each. Gonig forward I’m thinking HG’s time will approach 20 and Hamilton’s drop a bit. This, when going "small." When faced with the need to "go big," I see David Safstrom when getting 20+ with both HG and JH’s time peared-back. Personally, I like the way HG battles for position on the boards. He’s not intimidated in the least. His put backs are strong and when finding himself along up top, he’s not afraid to put up a three. For a big guy, his quickness (9 steals) and ball-handling skills are refreshing to see. He’s also got an inch on Hamilton (6’7" to 6’6") and a year to boot (soph vs. jr.). Together wtih CJ and Gabe, it’s quite a trio of 2nd year men. The three are averaging over 37 points per game in what is now year 2 of the CJ era.January 7, 2011 at 4:53 am #3094
It is perhaps helpful to consider where this team is today compared to the same time last year. By position:
1. McKnight has certainly exceeded expectations. Compared to Marquis Hall, he is not as good from the 3-point line and has fewer assists and rebounds. But, his point production is very close and turnovers are lower. And this is comparing a freshman to an all-league senior. Replacing Hall was one of the great concerns going into this season, and McKnight has allowed us to forget all about that. Let’s also give some props to Prentice Small for an excellent job in backing up McKnight. He doesn’t have the scoring potential but his assist rate is a bit higher. His higher turnover rate is mitigated a bit by his steals.
2. McCollum’s point production is ahead of last year’s pace, but he is taking more shots with lower fg percentages. For a team that is struggling a bit with rebounds, this is a bit of a problem. Hopefully, CJ’s shooting percentage will return to where it was last year.
3. Ojo is off to a terrific senior season and has become a “go to” player on the floor. His production is up across the board. He is not the defensive player we had with Dave Buchberger, and the Ojo/Keefer rotation is arguably not as strong as Buchberger/Ojo, but the falloff, if any, is slight.
4. Knutsen is avoiding any sophomore slump and is playing ahead of his great freshman season. Areas for his growth are to better defend the low post and cut down on his shots being blocked near the basket.
5. Safstrom has been the surprise of the season, emerging as a part-time starter. He works hard on both ends of the court and is especially effective as a low post defender. Greiner adds scoring potential when the team is able to ‘go small’ and he has a great nose for the ball. If we could take the best from both of them, we’d have an effective replacement for Carrington. As it is, Zahir’s offensive contribution will need to be picked up by the team as a whole.
We can expect Small, Hamilton, D’Orazio, and Keefer to be in the rotation and contributors from off the bench.
Let’s remember that this was a dominating team at last year’s Patriot League Tournament. American and Bucknell are stronger than they were last year, but I don’t believe Lehigh has taken much of a step back. It will be an exciting Patriot League season. I can’t wait for Saturday.January 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm #3109
If a Division One team could start five guards or four guards and one small forward, we’d be the best team in the PL – but the truth is you need at least two guys getting boards (and at least one guy off the bench doing so) to have a championship-winning team, and quite frankly Lehigh, despite C.J.’s awesome play, doesn’t have it yet.
C.J. is a special player, but he can’t do it alone. C.J. should not be our leading rebounder, with fellow G Michael Ojo at No. 3 on that list. Knutson is having a whale of a season considering he doesn’t get a heck of a lot of support underneath.
The key to this season, in my opinion, is the development of F Holden Greiner at the No. 5/sixth man position. If he can become a decent rebounding threat next to Knutson – to average, say, five boards a game the rest of the way – Lehigh has a chance to repeat.
Troublingly going into league play, I don’t think any of our big men – Greiner, Adams, Maneri, Hamilton, Safstrom, McCarthy – have established themselves as a "you’ve got to get me PT" sort of underneath presence. Greiner has come the closest, but I think there is opportunity still there for one of these six guys to stop focusing on being a go-to scorer and instead become a crucial guy netting five rebounds a game.
A temptation is to start Safstrom, and to give more PT to McCarthy off the bench, and see if he can make up some of the rebounding difference. But ideally, Adams becomes that 5 rebound a game guy off the bench, Greiner becomes a sixth man sparkplug, and Safstrom gets plugged in to disrupt the inside game of some of these PL teams.
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