The second part of the Lehigh season preview, posted below, will focus on the frontcourt and coaching staff.
Overall Analysis: The frontcourt lost 3 key contributors from last year’s team, and how the young and inexperienced members of this unit perform will determine how good Lehigh can be this year.
While Lehigh has the guard market cornered, it is the frontcourt that will determine how far the Mountain Hawks fly in ’12-’13. The frontcourt is led by the senior big man Gabe Knutson. Gabe returns for his senior year after having completed a stellar first three years at Lehigh, as the Urbandale, Iowa native has already eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark, becoming the 30th Lehigh player to achieve that milestone. Gabe was named a 2nd team All Patriot League Team member last year, after averaging 12.2 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game, almost identical numbers as he posted in his sophomore campaign. While Gabe will never be accused of being a bruiser down low, he is extremely cerebral and crafty in the paint, using a variety of low post moves to create openings where he can finish around the rim with either hand. Knutson has a soft touch with his shot as evident by his 51% field goal percentage and over 80% free throw percentage last year. Like McKnight, Knutson played well with the season on the line, as he matched All Patriot League Center Mike Muscala shot for shot in the Patriot League Championship game, finishing with 23 points in that contest and then posted up a 17 point game against Duke in the game that put Lehigh on the map. Gabe will lead the frontcourt but will need a lot of help from classmate Holden Greiner.
Greiner is a 6’7 forward from Michigan who had what can be classified as a good junior year when looking at the end results. Holden averaged almost 9.5 points per game and 5 rebounds per game, in a little less than 25 minutes of action. However, final statistics do not really tell the full story of his junior season, as Holden was on pace for a great junior year until an ankle injury derailed his season. Holden was the 3rd scoring option over the team’s first 25 games, as he posted double digits in 17 of those, including 24 big points in his homecoming game at Michigan State. The ankle injury impacted Holden’s ability to play at the same level he exhibited over the first few months of the season, and his playing time and output was diminished when compared to pre-injury results. Holden is a key for this year’s team, as he not only has to be a steady 3rd scoring option but he needs to help Gabe down low on the defensive rebounding front. Expect big things out of Greiner in his last year at Lehigh, as he will be motivated to finish strong and end his career with both him and the team playing at a high level.
Outside of Gabe and Holden, the Mountain Hawks three remaining frontcourt contributors have a combined 142 minutes of college basketball experience. That entire 142 minutes of experience comes from sophomore Conroy Baltimore. The NY native is a 6’6 forward with a long wingspan who posted strong rebounding statistics in limited minutes last year, recording 49 rebounds (25 offensive) in 142 minutes. Lehigh does not need Conroy to contribute much on the offensive end, because this team should put up points in droves, but in order for Lehigh to be as successful as they were last year they will need Conroy to develop into a rebounding machine and defensive stopper to help alleviate pressure from Gabe and Holden.
The remaining frontcourt depth comes from the likes of two 6’8 freshman forwards in Jesse Chuku and Justin Goldsborough. The former is a native of London who played in the strong New England prep school league at New Hampshire based Kimball Union Academy. Jesse is a hybrid forward who possesses the rare ability to shoot the basketball from 3 point range but also create off the dribble and bang down low in the paint. Jesse has a strong, athletic frame and he should be able to help on the rebounding front and with some secondary scoring from day one. He spent his summer representing his country playing in the European FIBA Under-20 Championships, where he rebounded at an extremely productive rate. Jesse has a really high upside and should be a big part of the team and in the frontcourt rotation from the beginning. Justin Goldsborough is a 6’8 forward from Maryland who Dr. Reed described as having “excellent length and size” and who “is a defensivein presence immediately upon entering our program with his shot blocking and rebounding ability”. Like his classmate in the backcourt Devon Carter, Justin took a summer class and worked out with the team to get a head start on his preparation for his freshman season. While there isn’t a lot of video of Justin from his high school or AAU teams, let’s hope that Dr. Reed’s description is spot on, because that is exactly what this frontcourt needs.
In summary, the Lehigh frontcourt has solid productivity and leadership from its two seniors, but for Lehigh to reach its ultimate potential, at least 2 of the 3 young forwards have to step up and take the opportunity by the horns.
Overall Analysis: Lehigh’s experienced and talented coaching returns to navigate Lehigh back to the promise land in ’12-’13.
Dr. Reed and his lieutenants from last year’s epic season will all be returning for the ‘12-’13 Lehigh Basketball Season. While there are some question marks for the Mountain Hawks as they try to repeat as Patriot League Champions, the coaching staff is not one of them. The good Dr. and his staff have proven that they know how to get the team playing their best basketball in late February and March when all the chips are on the line. The ’12-’13 campaign will mark Dr. Reeds sixth season on the sidelines as head man in Bethlehem, and his 94 wins ranks second all time at Lehigh, only 18 behind Tony Packer. With a strong nucleus returning this year it would be hard to fathom that Dr. Reed doesn’t end the ’12-’13 season as Lehigh’s all-time leader in wins. Having steered Lehigh to two Patriot League Championships in the past 3 years, Dr. Reed will be seeking his 3rd ring as lead man at Lehigh, and he’ll seek out to accomplish that with his entire staff returning alongside of him in Associate Head Coach Antoni Wyche, Assistants Ryan Krueger and Stephen Ott, as well as Director of Basketball Operations TJ Jordan. Success on the hardwood sometimes leads to defections when the staff is filled with as talented coaches such as these, so it is great news for all Lehigh fans that the staff returns in its entirety and is focused on hanging another banner at Stabler Arena.
In summary, the coaching staff has a talented group of players to work with, and the potential for this staff to take the team on another joy ride deep into March is extremely strong.
That concludes the 2012-2013 season preview of the Lehigh Mountain Hawk, I hope you all are ready for some basketball!