Perhaps if junior G Marquis Hall looked more like he does in this photo than the brick-layer he's appeared in the last three games, perhaps followers of Lehigh Basketball wouldn't be in a near-panic that their historic season is getting away from them.
But Hall's play in the last three games has been a key part of Lehigh's three-game losing streak - and he'll need to heat back up this Saturday in what has become a must win game against a 4-12 Army team at 7:00 PM Saturday night at Stabler Arena.
It's not just me that has been noticing, as Andre Williams of the Allentown Morning Call has also been saying that it's time for Lehigh to go back to the drawing board.
It's time for Lehigh men's coach Brett Reed to go back to the drawing board to quickly figure out how he can turn around a season that has gone from promising to upsetting after three straight defeats.
Lehigh has a bad tendency to play inconsistently over long stretches and Reed now has to find out how to correct the lapses before the Hawks -- picked to finish second in the league's preseason poll -- fall into too deep of a hole.
As Reed and his staff continue to teach, wins also need to mount and Hall (1-or-8 for three points against Navy) cannot struggle in big games if Lehigh is to contend for the Patriot League regular-season title.
It may seem unfair to put the blame for all of the losing streak on Hall for all three losses - one an obvious "tweener" game at Princeton, and two league opponents in American and Navy that were never going to be easy, with both going down to the wire.
But Hall's decline in production, as Williams pointed out, was a key ingredient in all three losses - especially considering that junior F Zahir Carrington has been a monster in those games, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. Expanding on Williams' point, Hall's shooting in his last three games have been abysmal: 8 for 33 shooting, or 24% shooting. More amazingly, 7 of those 8 shots were 3-point attempts: meaning inside the arc the last three games, Hall is 1 for 15.
That's not a recipie for winning games.
Looking at records, for 10-6 Lehigh (Real Time RPI: 222), it would seem that 4-12 Army (Real Time RPI: 333) would be just what the doctor ordered. However, the Black Knights have had a history of posing the Mountain Hawks, especially in Stabler where Army has eliminated Lehigh from the Patriot League tournament two years running. They're not going to win any style contests for scoring, led by junior F Cleveland Richard's 10 points per game, but if they manage to lure Lehigh into playing a plodding, physical style, they could easily come away with a win this weekend.
Other goings on this weekend:
* The wrestling team, No. 8 in the nation and 15-1 in duals this year, travel to Annaoplis, MD to grapple with Navy in a key EIWA dual this Saturday at 7:00PM. Lehigh may get lucky, as two of Navy's top-ranked wrestlers may be out due to injury - but all eyes will certainly be on a couple of big matchups between nationally-ranked wrestlers: at 149, No. 14-ranked senior Trevor Chinn will go against No. 5-ranked Bryce Saddoris, and at 174, No. 14-ranked sophomore Alex Caruso may go against No. 19-ranked Luke Robertus. Should be a challenging match.
* If there's any justice in the world, the 13-4 Lady Hawks' (Real Time RPI: 104) Sunday game against 10-6 Army (Real Time RPI: 176) would be pushed up to a 1:00 PM start instead of a 3:00 PM start. (I wonder why?) This matchup between two of the best women's basketball teams in the Patriot League would be the perfect lead-in to, well, that NFL game that is scheduled.
The Lady Hawks, who survived a scare against 7-10 Navy this week, have changed their game from being guard-dominated to getting things done in the paint. Sure, sophomore G Erica Prosser continued to shine with 22 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assits, but also senior F Haly Crites (9 points, 9 boards) and sophomore F Courtney Dentler (11 points) have given Lehigh a presence in the middle that have looked formidable in the last few games.
Until the Patriot League honors my request to have the game time changed, though, I'll have to settle for firing up the laptop to listen to the game on LehighSports.com for scoring updates while the Eagles are on. Unless the NFL honors my request to have their game time changed... but somehow, I'm doubting it.