What Position Will The Last Scholarship Offer Go To?

After the good Dr. and staff locked up their 3rd member of the 2013 recruiting class in Shane Whitfield, the only remaining question is what position the last available scholarship get allocates to.  The Big Three that is CJ McCollum, Gabe Knutson, and Holden Greiner are in their final year at Lehigh, so those mainstays on the court for the Brown & White won’t be with the team in the 2013-2014 season.  Below is a list of scholarship players who will be part of next year’s squad, organized by class (what year they will be next year).

Seniors

Mackey McKnight: 6’0

Anthony D’Orazio: 6’2

BJ Bailey: 6’3

Juniors

Corey Schaefer: 6’1

Stefan Cvrkalj: 6’5

Conroy Baltimore: 6’6

Sophomores

Devon Carter: 6’4

Jesse Chuku: 6’8

Justin Goldsborough: 6’8

Freshman

Austin Price: 6’3

Shane Whitfield: 6’6

Tim Kempton: 6’8

Despite the graduation of CJ McCollum, guard play should still be a strength for the ’13-’14 Mountain Hawks. For starters, Lehigh will have a 4-year starter at the point in Mackey McKnight, who will have the ball in his hands at all times in order to orchestrate the offense. Surrounding Mackey will be classmate BJ Bailey, who if he shows improvement from the level he was playing at last February and March, will surely have an impact role in his last two years in Bethlehem. If Lehigh again rolls with 3 guards, BJ can play the 2 or the 3 because of his athletic ability and length. Another guard and classmate of Mackey’s is Anthony D’Orazio, a two-guard who has shown the ability to score in spurts off the bench in his first two years at Lehigh. Next year’s junior class has two guards in it, with a pure point guard in Corey Schaefer and a shooting sniper in Stefan Crvkalj. Both were seldom used last year as freshman, but both showed enough in limited action to make one believe that each will have a role on this year and next year’s team. Schaefer will once again back-up McKnight, while Crvkalj could push for a bigger role in ’13-’14 depending on how his defense picks up and based on how he fares this year on the ’12-’13 team. Many around the Lehigh program are really high on current freshman Devon Carter, a highly ranked and versatile lefty guard out of Cleveland, he has a high upside as an athletic 6’4 off-the-ball guard who can play the 2 or the 3 for Lehigh if Reed goes small with 3 guards. When you throw in recent commit Austin Price who has a silky smooth game and who could take on a scoring role as a two-guard for Lehigh early in his career, the backcourt has endless options for ’13-’14. All in, next year’s team has 7 scholarship guards on it, and many of these players offer nice complimentary skill packages to one another. This collection of 7 guards, in my mind, absolutely has enough fire power to be a top backcourt in the PL in ’13-’14.

Four of the last six scholarships handed out by Reed and staff has gone to aiding and assisting frontcourt depth, as it should. The big question that I have is if there is someone from this 5 man unit that can fill the Knutson role of being an offensive threat in the paint. The ’13-’14 team needs someone who the guards can dump the ball down low to and feel comfortable that he will be able to execute one on one to get a high percentage shot off in the paint like we’ve seen Gabe do for the last three years.

As it stands right this second, the five frontcourt members that will comprise the Lehigh frontcourt in ’13-’14 have a combined 142 minutes of college basketball experience. Conroy Baltimore, who will be a Junior next year and who owns the entire 142 minutes of experience, is a long armed 6’6 rebounder, grinder, defender who needs to step up and carve out a role on this year’s ’12-’13 team. Conroy at his best, is a mini-Rodman rebounding stud that plays as an undersized 4, but not a guy you clear out for and let him operate offensively in the paint. To help out the ’12-’13 frontcourt Reed brought in Chuku and Goldsborough, who will be sophomores next year, but both have yet to suit up for a college game. While there is limited video of Goldsborough, Chuku is a hybrid forward who can get out and run in the transition game and hit outside jumpers, while showing some ability to break down bigs off the dribble and has shown some flashes of low post moves, but is clearly not a pure 5 that operates exclusively in the post. Goldsborough is a long 6’8 forward, but it is unknown if he has a back to the basket post-up game that Lehigh can consistently feed the ball to. Next year’s freshman class will bring two forwards to Bethlehem, in the 6’6 Whitfield and 6’8 Kempton. Whitfield, from videos posted online, appears to be more of a small forward, who likes to get out and run and attack off the dribble in transition. Kempton, who like Goldsborough has almost no video of him on the internet, has been discussed by analysts as a big man with a nice soft touch from 18 feet on in, but who needs to get stronger to be able to finish in traffic down low.

I see a super athletic group of 5 forwards for the ’13-’14 team that can cause some serious mismatches, but if the staff hasn’t seen enough in the form of post-up offense from summer and pre-season workouts in Goldsborough or on the recruiting trail with Kempton, they need to get a 5 man that can get up and down the court in this fast paced offense but who can also camp out down low and operate in the paint on the offensive end of the court. This would allow the remaining frontcourt members to slide back into their appropriate slots, and the frontcourt as a whole becomes much deeper.

As always, stay tuned folks!

Sunday’s Word: Sunny

It was not a "sunny" day this last Saturday at Murray Goodman stadium.

And just like the rain threatened but never came on Saturday, Lehigh threatened to make the game into a laugher this weekend, but somehow the dominating performance never came, and the Mountain Hawks let Columbia stick within striking distance until some late touchdowns finally led to the 35-14 win.

But as I was leaving the post-game press conference, a ray of sunlight bathed the field, and I snapped this shot of the scoreboard and field - the only "sunny" part of the weekend, I believe.

In a strange way, it seemed to sum up the Lehigh season thus far - "sunny" because the Mountain Hawks are 6-0, but with clouds on the horizon.
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Lehigh 35, Columbia 14, Final

Highlight reels can be very misleading.

I'm not saying, dear reader, that Lehigh's 35-14 win over Columbia was bad.  Not at all.  The Mountain Hawks went to 6-0 this afternoon at Murray Goodman Stadium, in front of a pacing break crowd of a little over 5,000 fans.

But if you simply judged this game by looking at the highlights, you wouldn't get an accurate impression of how this game unfolded.

Sure, Lehigh jumped to 14-0 and 21-7 leads, and the Mountain Hawks made some bursts of impressive plays to score touchdowns on Columbia.  But it was critical Lehigh mistakes that led to the Lions' 14 points - which put a bit of a damper on the post-game celebrations for Lehigh head coach Andy Coen.
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Water Cooler: The Collegiate Cash Drop

Sometimes, I wonder what I'm going to write about the world of FCS on a Friday afternoon.

But then, an idea drops in from out of the sky.

Almost literally.

That's after I discovered, thanks to Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated,  of Georgia State's effort to buy fans get students and fans to show up at a football game featuring a nationally-ranked opponent in FCS facing off against your 0-5 team.

That's to have - get this - a halftime drop of cash.

The Facebook promotion to my left is no joke.  No joke at all.  At halftime, Georgia's Own Credit Union is going to be dropping $10,000 cash from the rafters in order to booster attendance at their game against nationally-ranked New Hampshire this weekend.

It's probably not the dumbest idea in all of sports, but it's certainly up there.
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Game 6 Breakdown: Columbia at Lehigh, 10/6/2012

(Photo Credit: Columbia Athletics)

We break down the Columbia game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

WEATHER UPDATE: The weather situation for this weekend is evolving at this point, though the high of 68 and the 30% chance of showers remain.  Isolated thundershowers are now in the possible weather forecast for this weekend, so pack appropriately.  I happen to think that the weather will hold steady, and if it does, it will be an excellent October day at the stadium, which also happens to be "NCAA Take a Kid to the Game" day.

And when you do, Joe Uliana, ambassador to the Lehigh football program, also has this to say:

Off the field, we will be honoring the 55th Anniversary of the 1957 Lambert Cup Team at our pregame tailgate at the Rust Pavilion. Sixteen members from the team will be back and they will be honored on the field at halftime. If you are coming to the game, please stop by the Rust Pavilion to say hello to everyone and to tailgate with other former Lehigh Football players.  Also, the annual Jim Mahlbacher ’80 Scholarship fundraiser held by the Delta Upsilon brothers and players will be held this weekend.  Their tailgate area is near the Rust Pavilion so please stop by and say hello to them as well.

Let's now dive into the breakdown of the young Lions.

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Game Preview, Columbia at Lehigh, 10/6/2012

If Columbia head coach Pete Mangurian ever wants to take on another line of work, he'd be a great blogger.

Perhaps it's understandable that he hasn't done a lot of blogging in his first year as the Lion head coach - I can imagine he's, um, a bit busy -  but his blog makes for interesting reading when he does.

Last weekend, after a particularly tough 33-6 defeat to Princeton,  Mangurian made the game about something other than the lopsided score, or the turnovers - he made it about the fans.

It also highlights that Mangurian is in the middle of a rebuilding job at Columbia, and the fact that there will be growing pains as he crafts a winning football team in upper Manhattan.
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Reed Scores 3rd Recruit – Welcome Shane Whitfield

The good Dr. and his staff remained busy yesterday, as they landed their 3rd commitment in the class of 2013 in Shane Whitfield, 6’7 hybrid forward from the small town of Bayboro, North Carolina. Shane played 3 years of high school ball at Pamlico County High School before transferring to Word of God Christian Academy(alma mater of John Wall) in Raleigh, where he reclassified into the 2013 class. Raleigh, as some might know, is part of the “triangle” region down in NC, along with a little town called Durham that is home to a little college basketball team called Duke. You can draw your own parallels, but per Twitter it appears that Shane has grown up as a Duke fan(now a Lehigh fan!), so one can’t help but assume that the Lehigh upset from March 16th of this year certainly helped get Lehigh onto Shane’s radar.

Below is a link to a great article from Shane’s hometown paper with details on his decision(note article incorrectly had Lehigh listed as a 16 seed last year when we upset Duke, we were a 15 for those scoring at home, but really who is counting!).

http://newbernsj.com/sports/local/basketball-decision-made-1.21109

I’ve pulled out some interesting excerpts for you:

Whitfield on why Lehigh: “I liked everything about it, from the academics to the coaches,” Whitfield said. “The campus is great and they also win basketball games.”

Whitfield on future goals: “My ultimate goal is to make the (NCAA) tournament every year,” Whitfield said. “It’s just going to come down to hard work and hopefully the team that we have will be good, so that we can win the Patriot League Title and make a run in the NCAA Tournament.”

Whitfield on improving his game: “I’m going to keep working on my explosiveness and my consistency on my jump shot,” Whitfield said. “This offseason, I’ve been working real hard in the weight room and shooting the basketball.”

Naturally the next question is so what type of player is Whitfield. ESPN gives their opinion here:

ESPN Recruiting Commentary

Strengths:
Shane is one of the hardest playing guys in the state of N.C. Depending on the system he’s in he could be an undersized 4 or a power 3. He gets things done with effort. He possesses a strong upper body and he’s a very good rebounder. He can also shoot it to 18 feet. His execution comes off physicality and effort.

Weaknesses:
He has to develop his skill package and needs to add post scoring moves and add more reliability to his perimeter game. If he does end up at the 3 he must improve his ballhandling.

Bottom Line:
Shane is a super student and his a high character kid. He’s overcome two knee injuries in high school. He’ll probably find a home in the Big South.

Thank you ESPN!

Below is a fairly detailed highlight video that provides some insight into the type of game that Shane possesses. From my analysis of this video plus others that I’ve seen online over the past 36 hours, I see a highly versatile player in Mr. Whitfield. I think he cleanly fits in at the small forward position at Lehigh as an athletic 6’6/6’7 player, but not at the power forward spot. Shane will fit our up tempo offense quite well, as he’ll run and fill the lanes with ease. He has a versatile game, as he can hit the 18-20 foot jump shot, but can also break guys down off the dribble and finish in traffic while absorbing contact. I think he’ll spend a lot of his time causing havoc on opponents in the transition game. In the half court game he can isolate on bigger forwards by taking them off the dribble with his quickness, while also being able to shoot over smaller forwards and power through them by using his strong frame with the dribble in getting to the basket. He also shows off some nice passing ability in several of the videos I found, and it appears that Shane could be a serious matchup problem for Patriot League opponents.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akL-L3fKKTo

Kudos to Dr. Reed and his staff for securing the commitment from Shane, as until word got out on the web late last week that he was taking an official visit, there was no mention or rumors of a Whitfield/Lehigh connection, much like Tim Kempton’s recruitment. An official visit to the beautiful Bethlehem campus where Shane spent some time with the coaching staff and players while taking in a home football team win can all be listed as the common denominators that got a verbal quickly after returning from his official visit to Lehigh.

With Price, Kempton, and Whitfield in the bag, and one more scholarship available, where do the good Dr. and his staff turn to next?

As always, stay tuned folks.

Players of the Week and Press Roundup, Fordham at Lehigh, 9/29/2012

(Photo Credit: Kevin Mingora/Morning Call)

Sometimes, the most exciting, entertaining games are the ones you least suspect, and this well-recapped Fordham/Lehigh game was one of them.

I can't recall a week when it was so abundantly clear that there needed to be three special-teams Players of the Week.  As much as I tried to narrow it down, I couldn't - all three made such huge contributions, I simply had to include them all.

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