Lehigh Mountain Hawks
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #119
Conference Rank: #1 Patriot
Like so many teams in the Patriot League, Lehigh’s NCAA Tournament hopes were dashed by the improbable conference tournament run of Holy Cross. Still, the Mountain Hawks finished with a 13-5 conference record, which was good enough for second in the league. With four starters returning for Dr. Brett Reed, Lehigh is the team to beat in the Patriot League. And barring a Holy Cross type of run, the Mountain Hawks will be eyeing a trip to the NCAA Tournament. That is a very reasonable goal in large part due to Tim Kempton. The 6-10, 225 pound senior is an absolute beast in the paint and led Lehigh with 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds. Kempton is too big and strong for most opposing centers to handle in the Patriot League and it does not make it any easier that he can step out and knock down some outside shots.
2015-16 Record: 17-15, 13-5
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Dr. Brett Reed
Coach Record: 162-119 at Lehigh, 162-119 overall
Of the regular starters, only Jesse Chuku is gone. Chuku averaged 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds and proved to be a fine complimentary player to Kempton in the paint. Chuku did not spend too much time in the paint on the offensive end though, knocking down 55 three-pointers on the year. The frontcourt takes a hit with the graduation of Justin Goldsborough too. On a team that did not go very deep, Goldsborough filled nearly 15 minutes per game in the frontcourt. Losing both Chuku and Goldsborough leaves no frontcourt experience besides Kempton. Guard Tyler Jenkins opted to transfer after his sophomore season where he averaged just 8.6 minutes per game and John Ross Glover ran out of eligibility after averaging just 7.4 minutes during his senior season.
Lehigh needs bodies in the frontcourt from this group and they should be able to get it. Ideally, Matt Holba would have gained some experience last season, but he was sidelined with an injury. The 6-7 forward is a superb talent though and a great pickup for the Mountain Hawks. With few other options, unless Lehigh wants to play small around Kempton, Holba should step into the starting lineup. He may not be as productive as Chuku was last season, but Holba can certainly knock down shots like Chuku. Caleb Sedore is another big man who missed his true freshman campaign with an injury. At 6-11 and 215 pounds, he is an option to earn some minutes when Kempton needs a break. The same is true for incoming freshmen Jack Lieb and Josh Wolf, who both stand 6-10. Pat Andree is 6-8 and could be forced into early action as well. The lone newcomer to the backcourt is Jordan Cohen. He should have some time to develop his game behind a talented group of guards.
Who to Watch:
Kahron Ross emerged two years ago as a great point guard and he did not disappoint last season either. Ross ended his sophomore season averaging 11.2 points and 6.1 assists. He also committed just 2.0 turnovers per game and Ross has turned into a great leader on the floor. He has enough of an outside shot to keep the opposition honest and can easily attack the basket when the defenders start worrying too much about Ross on the perimeter. Austin Price is the team’s top outside shooting threat. He knocked down a team high 69 three-pointers and was second to only Kempton with 13.0 points per game. Kyle Leufroy is a very dangerous shooter too. He only made 45 on the year, but connected on 44.1 percent of his attempts. If he can keep up that percentage and take a few more shots, Leufroy will easily increase his 10.6 point scoring average. Devon Carter provided most of the backcourt depth and started ten games in place of Leufroy. His outside shooting is not as efficient, but Carter is a bigger guard. Speaking of big guards, the backcourt returns Brandon Alston after he missed his sophomore season with an injury. Two years ago the 6-5 guard averaged 4.9 points per game and showed plenty of potential during his freshman campaign.
With bigger guards like Carter and Alston, Lehigh could conceivably run a four guard lineup with Kemp in the paint. That sounds good on paper right now due to the lack of experience in the frontcourt, but Holba and the other freshmen should be able to fill the void. Not having another forward on the floor would hurt quite a bit on the glass and put a lot of pressure on Kempton. Thus, the development of Holba will go a long way in determining just how good this Lehigh team can be. They have proven playmakers at every other position and more backcourt depth than they had a year ago. Whether or not the frontcourt can find any other quality players to team up with Kempton, this is a good team that will be the favorites to take home the Patriot League title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Kahron Ross, Junior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Kyle Leufroy, Sophomore, Guard, 10.6 points per game
Austin Price, Senior, Guard, 13.0 points per game
Matt Holba, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Tim Kempton, Senior, Center, 17.7 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.9 (229th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.1 (103, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.6 (89, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.6 (181, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (132, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.2 (15, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.7 (66, 1)
Rebound Margin: 1.2 (144, 4)
Assists Per Game: 14.9 (75, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (206, 3)