Friday, February 13, 2009

Lehigh Weekend: Grapplers and Hoopsters Look To Build More Momentum

For the Lehigh wrestling team, momentum is something everyone knew about with five straight dual wins and a 20-1 overall record. But after last weekend's double hoops defeat to American last weekend, few dared to hope that both the men's and women's basketball teams would be riding a one-game winning streak going into the weekend.

The Lady Hawks, after their 66-48 win over Navy on Wednesday, sport a 7-2 record at sit tied with American at 7-2 atop the Patriot League standings. Leading only by 3 at the break, Lehigh's depth proved to be too much as the Lady Hawks surged to a 30-15 run the rest of the way to put away Navy. Senior G Claire Sullivan contributed 8 assists, while the bench also contributed 12 of Lehigh's 39 rebounds on the game. Junior G Alex Ross (13 points, 4 rebounds) and sophomore G Erica Prosser (15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) had their typical great games as well. (Prosser (pictured) was just featured in a nice article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which was reprinted on Lehighsports.com.)

The 18-6 Lady Hawks (Real Time RPI: 86) host 15-9 Army (Real Time RPI: 189) at 7:00 p.m. at Stabler Arena this Saturday. Lehigh will be doing more than defending their 11-game home court win streak, they'll try to avenge their 54-52 defeat at the hands of the Black Knights last month at West Point. Senior G Alex McGuire killed us in New York in that game with 24 of Army's 54 points, and with McGuire celebrating her 100th career start this weekend, she'll be trying to outdo her performance last time.

***

But before the Lady Hawks take the court, there are a pair of wrestling duals at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall where the Lehigh grapplers will be looking to extend their amazing dual record this Saturday - starting with a dual against Army where Lehigh will be looking to avenge a loss from last year. The Black Knights have a 10-4-1 dual record, and should they win this weekend they would displace Lehigh atop the EIWA rankings - so it should be a good one.

Two matches stand out: at 149, No. 14-ranked senior Trevor Chinn will be taking on No. 10-ranked Matt Kyler (who got a major decision against Lehigh in last year's dual), and the phenom at 197, freshman Joe Kennedy, will be taking on No. 20-ranked Richard Starks. Win one of these matches, and Lehigh will likely prevail; but Lehigh more likely will need big wins at 133 (No. 15-ranked junior Matt Fisk) and at 165 (No 14-ranked junior Mike Galante) in order to come away with the win tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.

Immediately following the Army dual is 4-10 Franklin & Marshall, which would frankly be an upset. Watch for some of our better wrestlers, like No. 17-ranked sophomore 174 lb Alex Caruso, No. 9-ranked junior 184 lb David Craig, and No. 17-ranked sophomore heavyweight Zach Rey to get some big wins en route to a dual victory immediately following the Army dual.

***

This Wednesday, the men's basketball team got its biggest win of the year: a 70-59 win over Navy where the Mountain Hawks held one of the top scorers in the Patriot League, guard Kaleo Kina, to 5 points on the evening. Four Lehigh players scored in double figures, including the three you'd expect: junior G Marquis Hall (18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), junior F Zahir Carrington (12 points, 9 rebounds) and sophomore G Rob Keefer (10 points, 4 rebounds). But it was the resurgence of junior G David Buchburger (14 points) that may have been the difference: his defense on Kina, as well as timely scoring, were huge factors in the game.

The 14-9 Mountain Hawks (Real Time RPI: 202) shouldn't be deceived by 7-16 Army (Real Time RPI: 314) at 4:00 p.m. up at West Point this weekend: they've won their last three at home and took Holy Cross to the wire in Worcester this past Wednesday in a 62-59 defeat where the game-tying 3 pointer rimmed out. Senior F Kenny Brewer excelled in that game with 12 points and 9 rebounds, while the Black Knight's leading scorer, junior F Cleveland Richard, had 10 points.

All the excitement will be broadcast on Lehighsports.com.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lafayette's Holcomb Moves On, As Does Fred Mariani

As we wait to find out all the total number of names in Lehigh's incoming class of 2013, some more movement in the coaching ranks in the Patriot League these days.

Following the departure of Lafayette offensive coordinator Bob Heffner to Northwestern last week, this week Leopard defensive line coach Al Holcomb recently announced that he accepted a postition with the NFL's New York Giants.

"I think it's a tribute to what we have built here with Lafayette football that members of our coaching staffs are highly sought after by institutions and organizations at the highest levels of football," Tavani said. "I'm confident that we will continue to work with some of the top coaches in the country."

Coach Tavani is right, of course: it's a great tribute that both of these coaches are moving to big-time positions. But it's equally true that as a Lehigh fan, I'm pretty happy to see the back of two coaches that played a big part in giving me nightmares the past seven years about the third weekend in November. Still, we wish them the best in their new positions.

Holy Cross reportedly announced their new schedule for 2009 at their postseason banquet, which includes home dates against Sacred Heart, Harvard and Dartmouth while their two out-of-conference road games are short trips to Brown and Northeastern. A link to the full schedule is here at the Any Given Saturday message board.

Finally, former Lehigh assistant coach Fred Mariani, who was formerly the head football coach at Iona College, had a nasty surprise after this season when the Gaels abruptly announced they were discontinuing football. After by every account going the extra mile to find homes for the players on his former team in other college football programs, coach Mariani got a great reward: he was hired by Rutgers as director of football recruiting operations.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Weekend Wrapup: Wrestling Almost Stumbles While Both Hoopsters Trip

Give the Mountain Hawk basketball team some credit: undermanned in Stabler Arena against the defending Patriot League champions, they had a chance to come away with the biggest victory of the season. But the 13-9 men's hoopsters (Real Time RPI: 225) ultimately couldn't overcome a dismal 18.8% shooting percentage from 3-point range and fell 66-58 to first-placed 15-7 American (Real Time RPI: 85). An early season full of possibilities may be rapidly becoming one of "wait 'til next year".

Junior F Zahir Carrington, with 20 points and 11 boards, is clearly one of the premier players in the Patriot League with performances like these. Sophomore G Rob Keefer also stepped up with 12 points, while junior G Marquis Hall added three steals and four assists - but it was defense (allowing 44.2% shooting for American for the game) and rebounding (losing the battle of the boards 36-30) which did in Lehigh on Saturday.

And the road gets no easier with a trip to Annapolis to face 16-7 Navy (Real Time RPI: 130) this weekend. A win here, quite frankly, would be an upset: with a 2-3 record in their last five games, including a couple of cardiac wins over 5-18 Bucknell and 6-17 Lafayette, confidence isn't exactly running high.

*****

With a golden opportunity to make a statement at the top of the Patriot League women's basketball standings, the 17-6 Lady Hawks (Real Time RPI: 92) lost a tough game on the road to 16-7 American (Real Time RPI: 101) 65-56. In front of a national television audience on ESPNU, you got the distinct impression that this wasn't going to be the last time these two teams square off this year.

Down 55-48 midway through the second half, it was a tough 5 point swing that ultimately the Lady Hawks couldn't overcome: a turnover turned into a 3 pointer by Talicia Jackson, followed by a missed layup converted to points on the other end by Liz Leer made it a 12 point deficit that ultimately was too tough to overcome. Like on the men's side, it was not enough perimiter defense, allowing 50% shooting in the second half, despite sophomore G Erica Prosser's "customary" 15 point, 4 assist game, junior G Alex Ross' 11 points and 3 rebounds, and the gritty effort of junior F Courtney Molinaro with 10 points and 9 boards.

Now a logjam, with 6-2 Lehigh and American tied atop the Patriot League, followed closely by 5-3 Holy Cross and Navy - and even tough teams Bucknell and Army looming at 4-4 - all signs point to an interesting close to the regular season. Finally back home after a brutal 3-game road trip, this Wendesday sees the Patriot League-leading Lady Hawks take on 12-11 Navy (Real Time RPI: 229) in a big game. Lehighsports.com will be televising the game.

*****

Lehigh's grapplers came close to stumbling against Bucknell, but the No. 7-ranked wrestling team ended up taking care of Bucknell to bring their dual record to an amazing 20-1. It ended up coming down to No. 9-ranked junior 184 lb David Craig's major decision to wrap up Lehigh's victory. It came after a split of the two bouts against ranked competitiors, with No. 15-ranked junior 133 lb Matt Fisk beating No. 20-ranked David Marble by an 8-2 decision, while No. 13-ranked junior 165 lb Mike Galante fell to No. 15-ranked Bucknellian Andy Rendos.

Two more weekends of duals remain before the EIWA championships, in which there is an excellent chance that we place five wrestlers or more in nationals. Heady times for Lehigh wrestling - even if we did almost slip up against Bucknell this past weekend.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...