Friday, February 16, 2007

This Weekend in Lehigh Sports 2/16/2007

Sure, there's two huge dual meet this weekend versus ranked opponents for Lehigh's wrestling team. Sure, the men's basketball team has an always-huge game against Lafayette in Easton on Sunday. But no game in the Lehigh Valley is more important than the women's basketball team this Saturday at Kirby Sports complex.

Why is that? The Lady Hawks (9-16, 4-7) have a unique opportunity - to enter the postseason Patriot League tournament at Navy either as cannon fodder for Bucknell or a chance to wear the home jerseys for a game and put themselves with an opportunity to sweep their way into the NCAA tournament. With four teams at 4-7 (including 6-20 Lafayette) and two more at 5-6 (including next weekend's opponent Holy Cross), if Lehigh can find a way to win these three games this week, you have to like their chances in the tournament to possibly make a run. Beat hated rival Lafayette this weekend, beat league leader Bucknell at home on Wednesday, and finish off Holy Cross next Saturday, and all of a sudden, it's a brand new season. Lose all three games, and it's time for toast.

It will require complete efforts like we saw Tuesday against Colgate, where the Lady Hawks demolished the Lady Raiders 68-50. With six players with 8 points or more and 20 rebounds from the starting five, if Lehigh can keep this momentum up and play tough, we could still be in this thing. But the most important game is tomorrow night against a Lafayette team who will be eager to close out their regular season with some momentum as well. With so little separating six teams, every win is crucial.

Tonight, we're going to see the men's wrestling team continue their torrid pace with a couple of big duals versus nationally-ranked Nebraska (#19) on Friday and Penn (#20) on Sunday. The #24-ranked Mountain Hawks, and their three nationally-ranked wrestlers, will be looking to close out the duals season on a high note before the EIWA championships March 2nd and the NCAA Championships March 15th.

Finally, although the men's basketball team will be looking to close out their league slate with another win over their hated rival Lafayette on Sunday, the Mountain Hawks will be looking more to see how well C Jason Mgebroff can get back into the gameplan before the two "twin terrors" of Bucknell and Holy Cross to end the league schedule. Barring a complete collapse, Lehigh will be the #3 seed going into the playoffs and will host a first round game, but if there's any realistic hope to make a run against mighty Bucknell and Holy Cross, I'll be looking for a strong finish in the league. I'm hoping with Mgebroff back, we have a shot. We'll see on Sunday.

As always, you can follow the action on

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lehigh Announces Class of 2011

Yes, we can finally *officially* get excited starting.... now. Lehigh has announced their recruiting class for 2011 and it looks like an extremely exciting group of kids!

I know, I know, I'm only a few days removed from my piece about the two sides of my personality on CollegeSportingNews.Com regarding whether it's worth it to get excited about these announcements. Do we know if these kids will be able to make it academically, or athletically, in the Brown & White? No, we don't. But I think I successfully argued that it's certainly OK to think about the potential down the road for your team after seeing the incoming kids.

And Lehigh fans like RichH are already abuzz about this recruiting class. From Alquippa, PA to Jupiter, FL to San Jacinto, CA, Lehigh has been covering an ever-increasing area in terms of recruiting. It's hard to believe that a short 15 years ago that Lehigh largely recruited mainly in PA and NJ - nowadays, Lehigh athletes can come from anywhere in the country.

Fans like ngineer are also smiling ear-to-ear about the fact that with after 40 scheduled on-campus visits, 29 student-athletes decided to commit to Lehigh. That's a terrific ratio - and it should be encouraging that when competing with Colgate and Lafayette head-to-head for recruits, we seem to have won many of those battles. With a full year to show what he and his staff can do, coach Coen seems to have come up aces. Folks are saying, not without reason, that this Lehigh group could be considered their "best class ever".

I think one of the reasons that Joe Sterrett, Lehigh's athletic director, chose coach Coen last year was coach's ability to win a few of the head-to-head battles for recruits with the Ivy League. It's still an uphill battle in general for the Patriot League versus the Ivy League for recruits, but I really do think that coach Coen is winning some of these battles and making some good headway. If you look at the "schools interested" for some of these recruits, you do see Ivies on there, and we are winning some of them. Coach Coen deserves serious praise for that.

What sticks out to me? The ten linemen - 5 offensive, 5 defensive - that make up this class for starters. Of note is the "D" Line which is loaded with big guys that should plug gaps in defensive coach Kotulski's 3-4. This shores up what I felt to be our biggest need area, so I'm thrilled that coach Coen got a bunch of great kids. The three RBs - all in the Ron Jean, scatback variety - are also intriguing. The two QBs - one of whom is very highly touted - are also very interesting.

Overall, from what I can tell, I'm extremely happy with kids we got in this class. Best ever? I'm not so sure - we'll see.

Every year, I write a "Five Faces To Watch" in the incoming class that are noteworthy only for their lack of accuracy. (For example, two of my five "Faces to Watch" in last year's class aren't even with the team anymore, while rising sophomore LB Matt Cohen completely was left unmentioned.) Undaunted, I give you my five faces to watch for the class of 2011... and I hope I do a better job this time of picking.

1. Charles Brallier, DT (Elk Grove HS, Elk Grove, CA) 6'3, 310. What enthuses me the most is Brallier's potential to be a linchpin NT for Lehigh down the line as an effective run stuffer. Getting Brallier shows me we are serious at shutting down people's running games, and this kid from California looks like a good one.

2. J.B. Clark, QB (Jupiter HS, Jupiter, FL) 6'3, 205. A wing-T QB in high school, this kid is considered a very good prospect in Florida and could potentially fit Lehigh well in the same mold as a Sedale Threatt. He seems like a leader who was considering a slew of FBS schools before Lehigh won the battle. Seems like a keeper.

3. Jaren Walker, RB (Centennial HS, Las Vegas, NV) 5'10, 185. An intriguing back who can catch the ball out of the backfield as well as get yards between the tackles. Listed as 200 lbs, his ability to catch the ball could potentially work well in our offense a la Marques Thompson. I like how this kid could fit.

4. Keith Schauder, OL (Boyertown HS, Gilbertsville, PA) 6'4, 255. I have a hunch this kid could ultimately down the road end up being on our front five. I really like that he can play center or possibly play tackle. Don't look at the size here - look at the ability and the work ethic. I like what I've read.

5. Kenny Shaw, ATH (San Jacinto HS, San Jacinto, CA) 6'2, 180. Will this speedy kid, already offered a scholarship to Southern Utah and scouted by FBS, Big Sky and Ivy schools, make the team? I like what I see in this breakdown. A smart, hardworking kid with speed that could play anywhere they'll let him. I just like him!
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