T-E-A-M Win For Lehigh

Lehigh opened up Patriot League play in style at Stabler this afternoon, taking Holy Cross out back to the woodshed and chopping them apart in a true team effort. Lehigh won their opener in impressive fashion, blowing out the Crusaders by 32 points, and putting up 79 without the talents of CJ McCollum.

Playing in their first real game minus their All American, I’m not counting the D3 scrimmage from earlier in the week, Lehigh showed that anyone who thinks their going to fold just because a brother of theirs is out with an injury is crazy. Lehigh showed that anyone who thinks this was a one man band is crazy. This team is deep and talented and it was a total team effort today in Bethlehem.

The leaders of this team lead the way, as the top 3 scorers left on this team all played well and hit for double figures. Mackey lead the way with 16, and scored in a variety of ways. Mackey drilled home 2 trifectas, had some nice pull-ups and intermediate range jumpers, and had some transition buckets at the rim. Mackey was an energizer bunny out there for the Brown & White. Holden was just as effective by pouring in 15 for the Mountain Hawks, including 4 triples. Holden added 6 boards and 3 blocked shots, truly stuffing the stat sheet. I think he drew 2 charges as well for Lehigh, and he played with raw emotion and energy that was contagious. Gabe had some nice buckets and finished with 12 points.

Lehigh’s depth showed off big time today, as the eight players earned double figure minutes all chipped in atleast 5 points. There were some really positive performances including D’Orazio. Anthony continues to play well for Lehigh, he showed some active hands on defense that lead to some transition offense, and some nice shake and bake to the tin for some buckets. BJ continues to shake some rust off the tires, and this was by far his best game of the season after missing almost the entire non-conference slate with a concussion. BJ was active, hit some 3-balls, and took the ball to the tin. Bailey adds another dimension to this team as he is a long and athletic guard who can defend multiple positions, and if he can continue to chip in and add to the offensive attack Lehigh will be in good shape. Schaefer continues his solid play with some phenomenal assists including the highlight off the game when he threw a behind the back bounce pass to a trailing Knutson on a fast break opportunity that Gabe finished at the rim. Without question though, the biggest impact off the bench for Lehigh was Justin Goldsborough. Goldy as he is known by some, had his best game of his short Freshman campaign, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. This was the coming out party for the freshman big man, and he finished with 10 boards including 4 on the offensive end. Goldy showed great energy, hustle, and grit as he battled Holy Cross bigs down low. Lehigh has been looking for a front court compliment to Gabe and Holden, and maybe Justin is ready to put a stranglehold on that 3rd big man spot behind the two senior front court men.

Spielberg or Scorsese couldn’t have written a better script for how today went, honestly, the good Dr has to be pleased with the effort of his squad. Lehigh held serve on home court verus what looked to be a top half PL team in Holy Cross. To win by 32 without CJ was a great effort, and truly showed that this is a TEAM, a TEAM that believes in itself and has a lot of talent up and down the roster.

Big test in game 2 down in American, where Lehigh will have revenge on its mind as AU took it to Lehigh down in DC last year.

LHN

The Unofficial Lehigh Commit List for the Class of 2017

(Photo Credit: Matt Smith/The Express-Times)

Yes, it's that time of year once again!

What has become an annual rite for Lehigh Football Nation readers is the yearly posting where I assemble all the known recruiting information for the incoming freshman football class.

For the last five years I've been competing with the legendary poster RichH to determine the incoming class.

Below the flip, get a sneak peek of Lehigh's class of 2017 - and come back to this page often, as I'm going to be updating it frequently over the next few weeks until Lehigh officially announces their incoming class.
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A 12th Game for Lehigh in 2013?

(Photo Credit: Lehigh Valley Live/Brown & White)

Back in November, I released a tentative version of Lehigh's 2013 football schedule, which included 11 games.

There's nothing earth-shattering about that, either.  Most seasons FCS football teams play 11 regular-season games.

But thanks to a quirk in the calendar next season, 2013 offers a rare opportunity for Lehigh: to play a 12th game.

For Lehigh or other schools in the Patriot League, is it a good idea to play a 12th game?

Absolutely.
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2012 Mountain Hawks of the Year

Out of 128 seasons of Lehigh football, only ten teams have enjoyed ten victories or more, and the 2012 chapter of Lehigh football was one of those ten rare teams.

Most of the ten victories did not come easy, which, combined with the perception of a weak schedule, had to be the reason why Lehigh was the first 10 Division I-win school since the expansion of the playoffs to 20 teams to be denied a playoff bid.

That shouldn't take away from the great accomplishment of this 2012 Mountain Hawk team, however.

There is plenty to celebrate from 2012, and plenty of good things to write about. 

The cardiac 28-26 victory at sold-out Liberty, in front of nearly 20,000 intense fans, before the Flames would end up being Big South co-champions. 

The heart-stopping wins against Fordham, Holy Cross and Georgetown, which all came down to the last play. 

And, of course, falling behind 21-10 early to Lafayette in the 148th version of "The Rivalry", before roaring to a 38-21 victory and shotting out the Leopards for three consecutive quarters.

For this last post of 2012, we celebrate the wins one more time, and unveil the Hawks of the 2012 season.
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FCS Playoffs Help Distract from a Tough Weekend

Overall, people in the Northeast are tough.

Maybe it's the cold, New England winters, the thick atmosphere around the financial and media centers of the large cities, or maybe it's just something in the cold melted waters in the tiny hills we call mountains.

 Or maybe it's some of the calamities we've had over the last decade-plus. 9/11. Terrorism threats. Multiple storms that have knocked out power, crippled businesses and wrecked homes.

The latest happened this Friday, in a tiny, upper middle-class Connecticut hamlet only a half an hour from where I grew up.

My toughness, and a lot of the toughness that exemplify many of the people in the Northeast, disappeared.

Like many others, I wept for the victims of Newtown. But I was also appreciative for two hugely entertaining FCS football games that provided a very welcome distraction from the horrible events of Friday.


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Wagner to Patriot League in Football Could Open Up Great Rivalry Opportunities


(Photo Credit: Staten Island Live)

While the news has broken that Quinnipiac and Monmouth will be accepting bids to the MAAC conference and leaving the NEC in all sports, nothing is official just yet. 

The MAAC's presidents will be conducting a formal vote on the matter tomorrow, and until then, it's technically speculation.

So is the thought of Wagner and Monmouth headed to other football conferences - something that seems fairly logical, should their moves to the MAAC be confirmed.  The MAAC does not sponsor football, and while the Hawks and Seahawks could spend $250,000 in exit money and then re-apply for associate, non-voting membership in the NEC for next season, it's far from clear whether either party would welcome the arrangement.

If Wagner is thinking about joining the Patriot League in football, what could that mean to them?

It could open up an interesting concept I've felt has been a missed opportunity for years - annual contests to see who's the best FCS team of New York City.
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Realignmentaggedon: Monmouth, Quinnipiac and Wagner to the MAAC


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According to sportswriter Mark Blaudshun, a 30+ year beat veteran of college football now residing in New Jersey, a key move was made by two schools, Monmouth University and Wagner College, that affects the FCS football landscape next season.

"Conference reconfiguration continues on all levels," the short blog post stated.  "According to the sources familiar with the process, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will add Quinnipiac, Wagner and Monmouth from the Northeast Conference. The announcement will be made on Friday."

In and of itself the announcement doesn't directly affect the Patriot League.  But it might.

With their move to the MAAC, a conference which does not sponsor football, the Seahawks and Hawks now have to make a decision on their football programs.
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The 150th "Rivalry" at Yankee Stadium

It was one of the worst-kept secrets of the 2012 season. 

Even though it was unconfirmed for many months, people in the know heavily suspected that something big was on the horizon for "The Rivalry" for the upcoming 150th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette.

In 2014, when "The Rivalry" celebrates its 130th birthday, the game will be played outside the state of Pennsylvania.

In two splashy announcements before the 148th meeting between the two rivals right before Thanksgiving, Lafayette and Lehigh jointly announced that the 150th game - Lafayette's home game - will be contested at the new, 36,000 seat Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
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Realignmentaggedon: Should The NCAA Intervene?

If you've been following collegiate athletics like I have, you've undoubtedly seen the latest news flying around this week as colleges have been dumping long-standing conferences like, apparently, top military brass have been dumping husbands and wives.

Maryland abandons the ACC, a conference which they've called home for 50 years, to join the Big 10, for little other reason than cash money to bail out their near-bankrupt athletics department.  Rutgers abandons the Big East, a conference which they've called home for more than 20 years, to join the Big 10, for little other reason than cash money to fund their struggling athletics department.

From there, all hell has broken loose, as Louisville has leapt to the ACC to replace Maryland, while the Big East seems convinced that East Carolina and Tulane are acceptable replacements for the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights, and the forgotten conferences of FBS, Conference USA and the Sun Belt, reshuffle their deck chairs to refill their conference with new members as the Big East poached Tulane and East Carolina.

From the perspective of this reporter who clings to academics when it comes athletics, it's awfully depressing viewing to watch.
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5 Observations Through 5 Games

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all. Below are 5 quick observations from LU’s first 5 games.

We’ll give you 3 Ups and 2 Downs, to match the LU record.

3 UPs

1.) CJ – It is hard to believe that CJ has gotten better, again, but that is what he has done for the Brown & White. It seems that once again the hard work in the offseason has paid off, because through 5 games CJ has not only met expectations but he’s exceeded expectations, which is hard to do with all the media coverage and All-American teams that he was placed on prior to the season tipping off. The fact of the matter is you’d be hard pressed to find a better player anywhere in the country. To me, the thing that has been startling is his efficiency, he has been getting what he wants whenever he wants it, and he is shooting 50% from the field and 50% from the 3 point line. Add 5 rebounds and almost 3 assists per game, and it is going to take an army to stop this guy. Every game LU plays for the remainder of CJ’s career, the best player on the court each night is playing for Lehigh.

2.) Other Starters – CJ’s primary associates need to have big years, and they’re all off to a good start in Mackey, Holden, and Gabe. Mackey looks to have picked up where he left off when we saw him last causing trouble for opponents in March, with the 3 point shot(43%) operating at a high level and ability to get the the free throw line. File this under the “Die You Know” column, but Mackey has gotten to the charity stripe 8 more times then CJ through 5 games, pretty impressive. The only area of concern with Mackey has been the turnovers, as he is averaging over 3.5 turnovers per game which is too many, but that is a small sample size and will turn itself around. Holden is off to a nice senior season, as he has been rebounding effectively with almost 6 a game, and has been shooting the ball at a good clip. Gabe does what he does, shoots high percentages from the field and the line, and is a smooth operator down low in the post. Putting up 15 ppg and 6 rpg, to go along with a block per game, what a treat it is to watch such a skilled post man operate in Knutson.

3.)  Scoring – This team won’t have problems scoring the basketball this season, and is averaging 75 points per game through their first 5 games, which puts them right in-line with last year’s team average of 75.7. With CJ and the other big 3 starters mentioned above, putting up points shouldn’t be a problem. When BB comes back, it just provides another weapon in Coach Reed’s arsenal.

2 Downs

1 & 2.) Rebounding, Rebounding, Rebounding – What was the fear of many Lehigh faithful during the preseason has clearly been the major problem so far in the very early going, and it is a big enough concern that it will occupy both my “Downs” for the team through the first 5 games. The team has lost the rebounding battle in 4 of their first 5 games, and for the season is averaging 31.4 rebounds versus their opponents who have grabbed 39.2 boards per game, good for an almost negative 8 rebound differential. Now I know you have two BCS teams as opponents thus far, but if you take Baylor and Pitt out of the equation, the team is a minus 17 in the rebounding department in the 3 games versus other mid-major teams. That is a big red flag. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that in all 5 games of the season the team has given up at least 11 offensive rebounds, and the team with only 11 was Baylor(a number that was so low because they had so many dunks/layups that night). An average of over 15 offensive rebounds per game by the opponents is difficult to overcome. The rebounding needs to pick-up for this team to get to where it wants to get to, as giving up a ton of second chance shots/points is a tough recipe to overcome night in and night out. The ineligibility of Jesse Chuku and the fact that the McCarthy open scholarship wasn’t used, means LU is playing down 2 schollies in the frontcourt, and that is certainly a factor when looking at the rebound differentials. In the preseason we talked about the team introducing more zone defense this year, and we’ve not seen a ton of zone so far this year, as LU has been running primarily M2M defense. Packing it in with a 2-3 zone might be something that can help the rebounding efforts, help minimize taller frontcourts offensive advantages in the post, while also potentially helping keep our bigs out of foul trouble.

LHN

The Bonds That Tie The Lehigh Family Are Strong, May They Never Be Broken