#134 Lehigh Men's Basketball Preview

Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Overall Rank: #134
Conference Rank: #2 Patriot League

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2010-11: 16-15, 6-8
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Brett Reed (67-55 at Lehigh, 67-55 overall)

Lehigh suffered a minor setback during the 2010-2011 campaign, but their fortunes can easily change as long as C.J. McCollum and Gabe Knutson are on the team. McCollum has been the best player in the Patriot League for the past two seasons and that will not end now that he is an upperclassman. Last season the 6-3 guard averaged 21.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.1 assists. His outside shooting needs to improve, but obviously McCollum is a great scorer and this group will go as far as he can take them. However, he is not the only talented junior on this team. Gabe Knutson is the inside threat, ranking second to only McCollum in scoring and rebounding.

Who’s Out:
The Mountain Hawks were a very young team last year, starting four underclassmen, but the losses are significant. Michael Ojo was the most consistent shooter on the team and was often the third scoring threat behind McCollum and Knutson. Finding another player who can become that third scoring threat and hit the long ball is imperative for Lehigh’s success. Rob Keefer and Prentice Small were a couple more guards in the regular rotation that are now gone and the depth at guard is suddenly a concern. Little used center David Safstrom is the only other departure.

Who’s In:
Incoming freshman Stefan Cyraklj will have an opportunity to replace Ojo’s production. He is a good shooter and overall scorer. If Cyraklj can consistently hit the long ball he may find himself in a starting spot sooner or later, but either way he should at least play a big role off of the bench. Corey Schaefer is another shooter, but is not a polished all-around scorer at this point in his career. Yet, on a team that lost its best shooter, Schaefer can help out right away off of the bench and is full of potential to develop into a solid player. Conroy Baltimore rounds out the group of newcomers and can already make an impact on the defensive end, but should have some time to develop with enough talent in the frontcourt returning.

Who to Watch:
Mackey McKnight will be the unsung hero of this team. The 6-0 point guard averaged 7.6 points and 3.7 assists last year as a freshman and did a great job keeping the team under control and feeding McCollum and Knutson. That will be his job again, but he could also fill the void of a third scorer. He is not a bad shooter and can attack the basket effectively. As a freshman last year, he did not look to score too much, but he certainly can. If McKnight cannot become the third scorer, the only other guard on the roster with any major experience is Anthony D’Orazio, but he is pretty much a shooter off of the bench and averaged just 2.4 points per game last year. The answer to replace Ojo is likely small forward Jordan Hamilton. By the end of his freshman campaign, Hamilton turned into the team’s sixth man and proved to be a capable scorer, shooter and rebounder. The bigger question for Hamilton and Lehigh is if they want a 6-6 forward at the three spot on the defensive end.

Final Projection:
Holden Greiner secured a starting spot for most of his sophomore season. On the year he tallied 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds. Those may not be great numbers, but Greiner does do the dirty work under the basket and is the team’s best shot blocker. With fellow big men John Adams, Justin Maneri and Kevin McCarthy, Coach Brett Reed will have some options off of the bench. They may not be the most talented group of frontcourt players to ever come off of the bench, but they are gaining experience and bring a lot of different attributes to the table. Knutson will have to carry the frontcourt and McCollum will carry this team. After making the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Lehigh missed the postseason entirely in 2011. That will not happen again now that McCollum and Knutson are ready to be leaders instead of just productive players.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Mackey McKnight, Sophomore, Guard, 7.6 points per game
C.J. McCollum, Junior, Guard, 21.8 points per game
Jordan Hamilton, Senior, Forward, 5.0 points per game
Holden Greiner, Junior, Forward, 6.4 points per game
Gabe Knutson, Junior, Forward, 12.2 points per game

Madness 2012 NBA Draft Rankings
#94 C.J. McCollum

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