October 31, 2009 at 11:08 pm #1000
CBS Sports and the PL Coaches and SIDs agree on one thing – the placement of HC (1st), LU (2nd), AU (6th) and LC (8th) in the preseason rankings. Link below for a closer look at the CBS report.
http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketb … y/12440626
More opponent info to follow in the days leading up to the start of the season – now just 13 days away.November 1, 2009 at 4:41 pm #1006
For those who do not have access to ESPN INSIDER, here is the text of Lehigh’s ’09-’10 Blue Ribbon Yearbook entry. The report is based on information as of October 1st.
COACH AND PROGRAM
When Dr. Brett Reed took over the Lehigh program three seasons back, he and his team had one big thing in common: both were inexperienced.
In his first season as a head coach, Reed inherited a team that had lost more than 3,000 points worth of scoring to graduation the previous spring. His 14-player roster that season consisted of 10 sophomores and freshmen.
So when Reed coaxed a 14-15 season out of his youngsters, a record that might have been .500 had a questionable call not led to Lehigh’s elimination in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament, it seemed like a pretty fair accomplishment.
Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Last Season 15-14 (.517)
Conference Record 5-9 (t-5th)
Starters Lost/Returning 1/4
Coach Brett Reed (Eckerd ’95)
Record At School 29-29 (2 years)
Career Record 29-29 (2 years)
RPI Last 5 years 240-149-241-243-250
It also raised expectations to a level the Mountain Hawks were unable to meet last season. After winning 10 non-conference games — the most Lehigh has won since joining the Patriot League in 1990, many expected Reed’s team to challenge for the league title.
Instead, the Mountain Hawks laid an egg, going 5-9 in conference play, finishing below .500 in the Patriot for just the second time this century (not counting the 2004-2005 season when they had to forfeit 13-of-14 league games for using an ineligible player).
"We had a lot of meaningful milestones, but we weren’t able to sustain it," Reed said.
In Lehigh’s defense, the Mountain Hawks were still a relatively inexperienced team. Only one senior started and only one other senior had a significant role in Reed’s rotation.
But it was the inability to consistently put the ball in the hole that played a much larger role in Lehigh’s underachieving 15-14 season that ended with another loss to Army, this time without any controversy.
Those freshmen and sophomores Reed inherited are juniors and seniors now. They are running out of time, and excuses.
"We are poised to be an experienced team. It will be a nice change," Reed said. "We are talented enough to be in the upper echelon of the league. I fully expect for us to compete for a conference championship."
Certainly the Mountain Hawks have a solid nucleus to build on in seniors Zahir Carrington and point guard Marquis Hall. Hall (13.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.1 apg) is a 1,000-point scorer and an All-Patriot selection the last two years after being chosen the league’s rookie of the year as a freshman. The 5-11 Hall has started 88 of Lehigh’s 89 games since he arrived on campus.
Carrington (14.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg) is the inside ying to Hall’s perimeter yang. A 6-7 match-up nightmare for the league’s post defenders, Carrington is too quick for bigger guys to stay with, too strong for smaller forwards to handle. Lehigh’s leading scorer and rebounder, Carrington posted 10 double-doubles to earn second team all-league honors.
Together they could become the first post-point duo from the same school to earn first team all-league honors since Jave Meade and Patrick Whearty did it for Holy Cross in 2003.
The Crusaders won the title that year, but Meade and Whearty did not do it alone. Holy Cross guard Brian Wilson was a second-team all-Patriot pick, too. Reed is hop-ing for similar support for his two stars.
"We need performance and consistency from some of our secondary players to relieve some of the pressure on our top guys," Reed said.
One player who appears ready to provide that kind of support, especially on offense, is 6-3 junior wing Rob Keefer (8.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg), a two-year starter who was a Pa-triot all-rookie selection as a freshman, when he shot 43.5 percent from three-point range.
Keefer’s scoring average went up about a point per game as a sophomore, but his efficiency sagged, especially from the arc, where he shot .317.
The deeper three-point arc might have been a factor, but the bigger problem was mechanical.
"Rob had some mechanical problems that affected his ability to score the basketball," Reed said. "We’ve changed some of his shot mechanics. We have tried to give him a quicker release, which should make him a more effective weapon. We hope to give him opportunities at the three-point line."
That would help make Hall, Lehigh’s top three-point scorer last season, more dangerous by allowing him to penetrate more, creating more opportunities for everybody on offense.
Dave Buchberger (7.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg), a 6-3, 200-pound junior, is the incumbent on the other wing, having earned the starting nod last season with his defensive prow-ess. Buchberger is Reed’s top perimeter defender, but like many Mountain Hawks, he struggled shooting the ball last season, knocking down just 34.9 percent of his shots.
That could open things up for 6-5 junior Michael Ojo (3.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg), if Ojo can stay healthy, something that has not been easy for him his first two seasons. Ojo played just six games in a freshman season limited by a leg injury. Last season a concussion knocked him out of the rotation for four games.
But when he has managed to stay on the floor, Ojo has shown signs of being an offensive threat. In one five-game stretch last season, he averaged better than 10 points per game. A solid (34.5 percent) three-point shooter, Ojo could blossom on the offensive end if he diversifies his portfolio.
"I’d like him to penetrate, find some opportunities in the open floor and ultimately get some free throw opportunities as well," Reed said. "He could be one of our biggest keys. He can really make a difference."
Junior Prentice Small (5.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg) is another experienced player Reed hopes will develop a more rounded game. The 5-9 Small backed Hall at the point and also saw time at the two his first two seasons. In that time, he still has not made the mental adjustment from high school scorer to college role player.
"We need Prentice to pick and choose his moments and to continue to improve his decision making," Reed said. "We want him to knock down open shots, but he needs to create opportunities for other people. He needs to be content in that role. It’s an adjustment in mentality."
Also battling for minutes in the backcourt will be 6-2 freshman C.J. McCollum, last season’s Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio. McCollum averaged 29.3 points and nearly eight rebounds a game as a senior, finishing his career at Canton’s Glen Oak High School with a school record 1,405 points. That was 108 points more than the previous record holder, Kosta Koufos, a 7-footer and former Ohio State player now with the NBA’s Utah Jazz.
"C.J. can score. He is a good ball-handler with great vision and a feel for the game," Reed said. "The biggest thing for him will be the need to adjust to the physical nature of the college game."
Up front three players will battle for a starting spot next to Carrington, with minutes available to pretty much anybody who shows an inclination to get their hands dirty. Reid won’t turn down any points that come from the rest of his big men. But he won’t count on them, either.
Sophomore John Adams (2.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg) showed flashes of being the kind of glue guy Reed is looking for during his 15 minutes per game as a freshman. The 6-9 Adams missed three games because of an injury, but he played in all 26 he was healthy for and recorded a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double in his lone start, the Mountain Hawks’ first-round league tournament loss at Army.
Fellow sophomore Justin Maneri (1.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg) saw limited action as a freshman, in part because he underwent reconstructive ankle surgery before the season. The 6-8, 240-pound Maneri has an unorthodox offensive game, but Reid hopes his toughness and intensity will bring rewards on defense and the boards.
"With a year under his belt and an opportunity to learn our system, I hope Justin will bring solid interior defense and will rebound the basketball," Reed said.
Freshman Gabe Knutson, who’s 6-8 and 210 pounds, is a two-time class 4A all-state selection from Iowa, where he was also chosen the state’s 19-U AAU MVP. Those are lofty honors for a kid who used to live in Australia and play water polo and is relatively new to hoops.
"Gabe is still learning the game," said Reed.
Even though the left-handed Knutson has a knack for scoring, Reed no doubt would prefer the luxury of letting a youngster so new to basketball ease into the college game. But Reed may not have that luxury.
The only other big guys on the roster are 7-foot junior walk-on David Safstrom and 6-8 late bloomer Holden Greiner, a freshman who will need to learn to play in the post after being a three-man type. Neither is ready now.
"There are minutes available [in the frontcourt]," Reed said. "It’s a matter of who fills them."
BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS
Simply put, Lehigh is Hall, Carrington, and a bunch of question marks. That probably is not enough to challenge for the league title. In fact, it might not even be enough to gain Lehigh a top-four seed and a first-round home game in the Patriot League’s campus sites tournament.
Can Keefer fix his shot? Can Ojo stay healthy? Can Small adjust to setting teammates up instead of finishing himself? Can Buchberger be at least enough of a scoring threat that opponents won’t feel free to leave him unchecked while doubling on Hall or Carrington? Will the skinny (165 pounds) McCollum be able to hold up against bigger, stronger, Division I players? What about Adams, Maneri and Knutson? Will they be able to plug the hole up front?
With a relatively weak non-conference schedule — the Hawks don’t play anybody from the BCS conferences — Lehigh should again head into league play with a decent record. But the schedule might not even offer enough possible scalps to gain consideration for even one of those third-tier postseason tournaments that have sprung up in recent years, much less any sort of decent seeding for the NCAA Tournament should Lehigh win the Patriot League.
Not that anybody is suggesting this is a postseason team. While the senior presence of Hall and Carrington probably gives Reed the best shot at winning the Patriot League that he has had in his short career, there are simply too many unanswered questions for Lehigh to be considered a contender.
After going 5-9 in league play last season, a winning league record, with a first round tournament win, coupled with a solid non-conference showing, would signal marked improvement. That is probably a realistic goal.November 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm #1007
Pretty accurate assessment overall. Key is extending Hall’s season. by last 15 games last year he was pyysically worn down. Less minutes and pressure early , a better rotation. Need another point to step up keefer and McCollum need to score. Anything we could get up front would be a bonus. Knutson like McCollum are real but are they ready?November 1, 2009 at 6:01 pm #1009
Here’s a look at how Rivals.com from Yahoo Sports sees the 2009-10 order of finish among the 347 D-I college basketball programs.
BEST PLAYER: F Zahir Carrington
QUICK TAKE: The Mountain Hawks hope the league’s best frontcourt propels them to the league title.
BUZZ: The Mountain Hawks are coming off a disappointing season, but every key piece returns. Those pieces should be good enough to push Lehigh to the top. Carrington (14 ppg, 8.6 rpg) leads the league’s best frontcourt and rebounding team. Marquis Hall (13.9 ppg) keys a backcourt that must become more productive overall.
171. Holy Cross
BEST PLAYER: C Andrew Keister
QUICK TAKE: New coach Sean Kearney had been a Notre Dame assistant for the past nine seasons.
BUZZ: Is a second consecutive second-place finish in store for the Crusaders? Kearney will try to win a title in his first season at Holy Cross. It’s possible if he can get more out of talented big man Keister (8.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and sophomore guard R.J. Evans (13.4 ppg). Three valuable seniors from last season’s team are gone, though.
BEST PLAYER: G Chris Harris
QUICK TAKE: The run-and-gun Midshipmen should be the best of the three service academies this season.
BUZZ: When it comes to entertainment value, there’s no contest in the Patriot League. Navy and its fast-paced offense is a treat to watch. The question is whether it can be as much fun without Kaleo Kina and his 18 points per game. Harris (15.4 ppg) will get even more shots, and that’s a good thing. Center Mark Veazey (7.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) might be the key.
BEST PLAYER: G Cleveland Richard
QUICK TAKE: The Black Knights are stingy defensively, especially on the perimeter. But a lack of size hurts.
BUZZ: A fast, ball-hawking backcourt keys a defense that gives Army a chance to be a long-shot contender. Richard (12.0 ppg), Patriot League top defender Marcus Nelson and talented sophomore Julian Simmons make up a mean perimeter trio. The Black Knights need to be more consistent offensively, though, and a third shooter to complement Richard and Simmons would help.
BEST PLAYER: F Yaw Gyawu
QUICK TAKE: The Raiders have a chance to make some noise in the league; a top-three finish is possible.
BUZZ: Gyawu’s is a name that will be mispronounced often in the next few years. He showed a lot of ability for Colgate as a freshman last season, scoring 10.2 points a game. Fellow frosh Nick Pascale has the potential to be a force at center, and Mike Venezia (10.8 ppg) and Ben Jonson (10.4 ppg) make up a solid backcourt. The Raiders bear watching.
BEST PLAYER: F Patrick Behan
QUICK TAKE: The Bison were last in the Patriot League last season, but they appear to be slowly climbing back into the mix.
BUZZ: Expect a significant leap from last season’s last-place showing. The young Bison lose Justin Castleberry, but Behan (13.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg) should be one of the league’s top scorers. Sophomore guard Bryan Cohen (11.8 ppg) is terrific as well. He and wing forward G.W. Boon (9.8 ppg) combined for 104 3-pointers last season.
BEST PLAYER: G Nick Hendra
QUICK TAKE: The Eagles have made back-to-back NCAA appearances. They lost way too much talent to get a third consecutive bid.
BUZZ: Coach Jeff Jones and American wowed college basketball by building a 14-point lead on Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tournament, only to fade late against a team that went on to the Final Four. Jones’ program is strong, but this year could be trying without Garrison Carr, Brian Gilmore and Derrick Mercer and their 42.1 points per game. A plummet appears inevitable.
BEST PLAYER: F Ryan Willen
QUICK TAKE: Remember the "Lafayette, we are here!" cry from World War I? Now, it’s "We’re Lafayette, and we’re down here!"
BUZZ: Lafayette can score in bunches but has trouble limiting others from doing the same. Leading scorer Andrew Brown is gone, but G Jeff Kari (10.7 ppg) and the explosive 6-8 Willen (9.4 ppg) can produce more. Still, the only way the Leopards are getting out of the basement is by figuring a way to get some stops.November 1, 2009 at 7:17 pm #1011
For those who can’t get enough preseason analysis, here’s another. This one courtesy of USA Today. For their view of other PL teams, link onto:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/ … t/home.htm
Last season was a tale of two halves for Lehigh.
Following 10 wins in the non-conference portion of their schedule, the Mountain Hawks fell apart against their Patriot League foes, going just 5-9 and finishing the season 15-14. Part of the problem was a lack of experience. Only one senior filled out the rotation.
This season, the Mountain Hawks are a bit more balanced, led by a pair of seniors — forward Zahir Carrington and point guard Marquis Hall. Hall, who averaged 13.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season, is an All-Patriot selection in each of the past two years.
The 6-7 Carrington (14.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg) is a beast in the post and led the Mountain Hawks in scoring and rebounding,
After Carrington and Hall, it gets a bit iffy for Brett Reed’s team. Junior guard Rob Keefer has had shooting issues and junior guard Michael Ojo is recovering from a concussion. The Mountain Hawks have a gaping hole in their frontcourt.
For Lehigh, a Patriot League title is probably unlikely, despite what should be another solid non-conference showing. To compete in the conference, the Mountain Hawks need to be stronger and deeper.
–Senior PG Marquis Hall has started 88 of Lehigh’s 89 games since he arrived on campus.
–Senior F Zahir Carrington posted 10 double-doubles last season, most on the team.
–Lehigh led the league in offensive rebounding last season, hauling in 39.6 boards per game.
LAST YEAR: 15-14 overall, 5-9 in the Patriot League, tied for fifth
HEAD COACH: Brett Reed (career 29-29); third year at Lehigh (29-29)
QUOTE TO NOTE: "During the early stages we will attempt to implement our defensive strategies and our foundational philosophies for guarding our opponents. We also hope to continue to layer the complexities of our offense upon one another to create a slightly more dynamic attack for this season." — Coach Brett Reed, on LehighSports.com, discussing his strategy for the season.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SCOUTING THE NEWCOMERS: Freshman G C.J. McCollum, last season’s Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio, is the first-year player most likely to grab minutes for coach Brett Reed. McCollum averaged 29.3 points and nearly eight rebounds a game as a senior. Freshman F Gabe Knutson is also a dynamic talent, a two-time class 4A all-state selection from Iowa, where he was also chosen the state’s 19-U AAU MVP.
KEY EARLY SEASON GAMES: The nonconference schedule won’t pose much of a challenge for Lehigh, with not one game scheduled against a BCS opponent. The Mountain Hawks won’t do much traveling either, with not one road game taking place outside the Eastern Time Zone.
PROGRAM DIRECTION: Lehigh is a work-in-progress. The Zahir Carrington-Marquis Hall combo makes the Mountain Hawks tough to beat, but a thin frontcourt and a ton of inexperience could mean another season in which the team struggles down the stretch.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP: G Dave Buchberger, G Rob Keefer, G Marquis Hall, F Zahir Carrington, F John Adams
–Sophomore F Justin Maneri saw limited action as a freshman after undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery before the season. The 6-8 Maneri is expected to be healthy for the Nov. 13 opener.
–The Mountain Hawks added 7-foot junior walk-on David Safstrom in the offseason. Safstrom is expected to be a bench player this season.November 5, 2009 at 8:09 pm #1019
Here’s how the Sporting News see it playing out this year in the PL……….
Hit link below for team capsules.
http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnf … id=4264410November 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm #1116
Andy Katz, senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com, ranks the PL 21st among the 32 D-I conferences and gives the nod to Holy Cross…..
21. Patriot: Ralph Willard left what might’ve been his best Holy Cross team to become Rick Pitino’s top assistant at Louisville. New coach Sean Kearney should take the Crusaders into the NCAA tournament and be a potential thorn for a first-round opponent.
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