Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sweeping Up Before 2008 Comes to a Close

This blog posting is basically a hodge-podge of different things I wanted to mention before 2008 comes to a close.

My YouTube highlight film of Lehigh/Lafayette is still in the process of getting done (I forgot how much of a pain in the you-know-what it is to go through game film to make a ten-minute highlight reel), as is my announcement about the LFN "Hawks of the Year" (which, if I ever can get the hang of it, will have YouTube support as well). But those, alas, will have to wait until 2009 to be complete.

I've archived pretty much all of the Lehigh game wrap-ups for 2008 from the mainstream media on the CSN Log, before it's gone to the dusty archives of the Easton Express-Times and Allentown Morning Call. I've also been archiving much of the press clippings from the rest of the Patriot League, Richmond, and other schools. It's a big job - and I'm working to make it less so.

I also recently helped pick the College Sporting News Fab 50, as well as doing a full set of predictions and recaps for the national playoffs. Then it's doing the year in review - and by then, recruiting season will be in full swing.

Selected interesting headlines from the past few weeks before I close 2008:

  • While the Patriot League presidents sit on their hands, schools like Delaware are using their scholarships to lure disgruntled FBS quarterbacks like Penn State's Pat Devlin. Delaware, who were flat offensively with an Ohio State transfer quarterback last year, hope Devlin will be the next Joe Flacco - who, after getting drafted in the first round last year, will be starting for the Ravens in the playoffs as a rookie. We'll never know if Devlin, who hails from Downingtown, might have considered the "local Division I schools" like Lehigh or Lafayette as transfer targets had they been able to offer full scholarships. But it's a question worth asking.
  • Former Lehigh punter Ben Talbott ('97) has been putting his Lehigh degree to good use: as founder of Bird's Eye Sports, a repository of game film and information concerning Connecticut high school football.
  • The CEO of Schutt Sports, a firm who had done business with Lafayette College, admitted in federal court that he overcharged local school districts for supplies and failed to safety-test football helmets properly.
  • Lafayette alum Mike Palos was recently introduced as head coach at Bethlehem Catholic. He has an awful tough rebuilding job ahead of him, as he sits smack-dab of PIAA champion Liberty and Freedom, another high school powerhouse.
  • Not to be outdonw, Lehigh alum Brian Hensel ('90) was introduced as head coach of Central Bucks West as well. The most interestng part of the article was the following tidbit:

Brian Hensel didn't intend to become a football coach. Another guy had to have a heart attack first.

It was 1990, and Hensel had just graduated from Lehigh University, where he played guard before receiving a journalism degree. He was attending an early-season game at Towson when Fred Mariani, Lehigh's offensive line coach, suffered a heart attack right there on the sideline.

After the game, as he was mingling about and trying to inquire about Mariani, Hensel got to talking to Hank Small, the Lehigh coach at the time.

The two men lamented Mariani's possible fate — and then Small offered Hensel Mariani's job on the spot.

“He kind of said it tongue-in-cheek,” Hensel recalled. “I said, "Are you serious?' he said, "Kind of. Yeah.' And then my coaching career got started.”

  • A friend of the "Nitaninny Turkey" states his preferences, in regards to Penn State's upcoming spanking* I mean asswhupping* I mean game against USC in the Rose Bowl:
Sometimes, I wish I would have gone to Lehigh or Lafayette. That is real scholar athlete football. PSU football has gotten too big for its britches.It is almost like professional sports, which I abhor, even though I do watch Eagles and Steelers football. When my Club Seat contract expires, I probably won’t renew. I can save money by going through “Rick the Scalper” and only go to the better match-up Big Ten and other games. Even though we did not stay over, it cost me $492 to see Coastal Carolina, and I left at the middle of the third quarter. Perhaps if they go to a playoff, where you can play Alabama, Texas, Georgia and LSU and lose, but still make the playoff by winning you conference it will be worth $500 per game.

To this I say: Don't fret. Many, many a Penn State graduate has wished they went to Lehigh or Lafayette.

  • And finally... and certainly not least, the Lehigh women's basketball team did some sweeping of their own: namely, sweeping North Florida and LaSalle out of Stabler Arena to take their first Christmas City Classic since 2000. Best of all, they gutted out a win against a tough LaSalle team without the services of junior G Alex Ross. The 10-3 Mountain Hawks could be on the verge of a real special season on South Mountain.
Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year everyone.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Snow Can't Stop Lehigh Basketball (And Wresting)

When I heard that the temperate Pacific Northwest was getting hit by snow from my grandmother, I knew that the Lehigh men's basketball game versus Washington may have been in trouble. And while this picture of a snowman next to Seattle's space needle isn't necessarily a sign of the Apocalypse (though I'm still debating if the course of events that put the Eagles are in the NFL playoffs - a historic blowout of the Cowboys, alongside wins by the Texans and Raiders - the Raiders, fer Crissakes! - may very well be), it was enough to show that the Washington game would be postponed officially - and most likely cancelled.

It's worth mentioning, from the official release, what the men's basketball team went through:

8:00 AM – Team departs Taylor Gym for New Jersey to play Monmouth
3:03 PM – Lehigh defeats Monmouth, 80-71
4:00 PM – Team departs Boylan Gymnasium for Newark/Liberty Int’l Airport
5:00 PM – Team arrives at EWR
6:40 PM – Finish checking in for flight
7:15 PM – Scheduled departure of Continental Airlines Flight 1481 to Seattle/Tacoma
8:45 PM – Team boards 1481 at Gate C75
10:02 PM – Flight 1481 departs Newark/Liberty for Seattle
11:45 PM – Pilot informs passengers that SEA is no longer accepting inbound flights, and that Flight 1481 must return to EWR
1:41 AM – Team deplanes flight 1481 at Gate C74
2:25 AM – With all flights full to the Pacific Northwest, postponement of Tuesday’s game becomes inevitable
4:55 AM – Team begins return to Lehigh Valley

On the plus side, Lehigh didn't show any ill effects of the messed-up flights in a 72-57 drubbing of the Longwood Lancers, boosting their record to 8-3 (and putting their RPI at 173). Coming up are two very winnable games against winless NJIT (who have lost 44 straight games) on Wednesday and 4-6 Columbia (RPI: 262) during First Weekend.

The Eagles making a miracle postseason and ice and snow postponing Lehigh men's basketball weren't the only developments during the holidays.

* Lehigh wrestling has continued to climb through the national rankings and showed no signs of slowing down after an amazing 10-0 record in duals this year. That makes Lehigh 10-0 in wrestling for the first time in 41 years.

Their last two duals were huge, surprising blowouts: 27-6 over Ritgers and 25-9 over Rider, who knocked Lehigh down at the beginning of last year. After dropping the opening bout at 125 lbs, Lehigh junior 133 lb Matt Fisk scored a 11-3 major decision and kicked off eight straight decisions.

Capping this off are two huge duals to ring in 2009: one at West Virginia and the other at Penn State, which will be televised nationwide on Fox College Sports Pacific.

* Adding to the glorious winter, the 8-3 women's basketball team (RPI: 125) scored two straight wins against NJIT and Binghamton going into tonight's game against North Florida in the 12th annual Christmas City Classic in Stabler Arena. North Florida isn't exactly South Florida: the Ospreys are 2-7 (RPI: 317) and look to be Lehigh's opening-round victim - should the Lady Hawks win, they will face off against either 3-5 Valparaiso (RPI: 66) or 7-4 LaSalle (RPI: 149) in the finals to be played tomorrow.

The engine that makes the Lady Hawks go are sophomore G Erica Prosser (13.8 ppg) and junior G Alex Ross (14.4 ppg), while Ross is completely on fire from 3-point range this year with a 49.4% hit rate.

Let's hope the Lady Hawks - already 4-0 at home this year - keeps things up tonight!
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