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Showing posts from 2006

The Last Weekend in 2006

Gah! Here I am closing out the last workday in 2006, and I flat-out forgot about my talk on the men's basketball, women's basketball, and wrestling for this weekend! It probably won't by my best posting of all-time, but here goes. The men's basketball team, who last week hung tough with Rutgers of the Big East but fell 76-71, travel to Monmouth, NJ tonight to take on the Hawks. Monmouth is 3-8 and has to be a "statement game" for Lehigh going forward. Two very winnable games loom before Lehigh hits the important part - the league schedule. After Monmouth tonight, it's Columbia (a surprising 7-5) who manhandled Lafayette two weeks ago. Despite the records, Monmouth isn't as bad as 3-8 and Columbia's not as good as 7-4, but our battered team needs two wins here to go into the league with a head of steam. The Lady Hawks are hosting Gardner-Webb (3-8) tonight at Stabler, followed by Yale (3-7) on Wednesday. Both winnable games, Yale has won some

2006 In Review; LFN Hawks of the Year; A Peek at 2007

In this holiday time when we're sweeping out 2006 and ushering in 2007, it's a time to look behind, pick Lehigh Football Nation's players of the year, and also to peek ahead a little. 2006 In Review In a season where the Mountain Hawks were picked to finish third in the preseason, you would think Lehigh fans would have been happy with a co-championship in head coach Andy Coen's first year. But in a season with tough losses to the Ivy League and NEC, and Lehigh's third straight loss to Lafayette (and losing a D-I playoff bid in the process), it sure as heck didn't feel like a championship. Yet the fact remains it still was a championship year as coach Coen slowly brought his brand of football to South Mountain, going 5-1 in the league after a 1-4 out-of-conference record. Coming off an offseason which saw the offense and defense have major shifts in phlilosophy, it could have been expected that the Mountain Hawks come out of the gate a little slowly. But after a

The America Channel To Broadcast Patriot League Sports

Thought I was was going to simply shout out a big "Happy Holidays", eh, or talk about the big basketball games yesterday? Although I will spend some time doing both - and I'll also give a thought to some interesting postings for the rest of the year - the first order of business involves a bit of news you may not have heard about. Five days before Christmas, there was a press release from a fledgling network called the America Channel. It stated that they had entered a multi-year agreement to broadcast Patriot League sports starting in the 2007 season. Here are excerpts from the Patriot League press release: The Patriot League has signed a multi-year deal with a new national-sports broadcaster, The America Channel, Patriot League Executive Director Carolyn Schlie Femovich announced Wednesday. The arrangement, which will begin with the 2007-08 academic year, will bring additional exposure to the Patriot League, specifically in the sports of football, women's basketb

Division I Football Championship Preview

This picture is a fairly accurate assessment of how I felt after last week's Division I Playoff picks. I mean, really, a Montana/Youngstown State final? Beleive me when I say I took my beating(s) like a man and I'm ready to make another pick. Despite Yosef fans' pleas to have me pick the Minutemen, and ZooMass' requests for me to pick Applachian State, I'll be doing what I always do - breaking down the game, and predicting the winner. So it's not Montana and Youngstown in Chattanooga, TN tomorrow, it's Appalachian State and UMass. A matchup of former champions, the Mountaineers are going for a repeat (having won last year's Championship), while the Minutemen are going for their first championship since 1998. For those Lehigh fans that remember, that was the team that defeated one of the best Lehigh teams ever, ending our season on a 4th-and-goal from the 9 in a 22-16 final. It should be a good game. Both teams only have one loss - UMass to non-play

FCS Semifinal Picks

Once again, here are my picks for this weekend's football "final four", the Division I Football Championship, the only NCAA-sanctioned national champion for Divsion I football. (P.S. Did you order yourself a Lehigh Football Nation hat recently - a perfect Christmas gift for that Lehigh football fan on your list?) Montana over UMass. It's not easy to pick against UMass, especially after their come-from-behind, denying QB Ricky Santos in the final minute, 24-17 victory. But in a very even matchup, you can't deny the fact that the Griz at home have been absolutely dominating. Holding Southern Illinois to 136 TOTAL yards really made me stand up and take notice. If Montana can shot down Minuteman RB Steve Baylark the same way they stopped Saluki RB Arkee Whitlock - and I have every faith that they can - I don't think QB Liam Coen can carry the Minutemen with his arm. In contrast, Montana QB Josh Swogger and the Montana offense have gotten better, not worse,

14 Hawks Make All-Patriot

Finally - FINALLY - I'm getting to congratulate the Lehigh Mountain Hawk Gridders that made the All-Patriot League team this year. PK Jason Leo heads the list of ten Hawks that made the first team - more than any other Patriot League squad. In addition, Leo won Special Teams Player of the Year for his efforts punting and kicking. The complete list of honorees is as follows: 1st Team Offense QB Sedale Threatt TE Landon Maggs OL John Reese OL Jim Petrucelli PK Jason Leo Threatt gets the nod, rightfully in my opinion, for first team QB over Lafayette's QB Brad Maurer and Holy Cross' QB Dom Randolph. Threatt may not have gotten the most yards passing (a solid 2,008 yards), but his passing accuracy (61%, good enough for a 144.66 QB rating) and his abilities as a runner (8 TDs to go with his 14 TD passes gave him 22 on the year) really vaults him ahead of the other two. Next year, it should be awfully interesting to see Threatt and Randolph, who will be returning for their senio

The Week In Lehigh Sports: 12/6/2006

I know I promised to get to Lehigh Football's All-Patriot League awards, and I have a few awards of my own to give out as well, but with the Lehigh Men's basketball team travelling to Princeton tonight to play the always-tough Tigers, I wanted to give a little preview of the men's basketball, women's basketball, and wrestling teams for this coming week. Tomorrow I'll get to the football accolades, I promise! Men's Basketball After beating the NEC's Central Connecticut State 55-52 last Saturday (on a last-minute shot by G Jose Olivero), Lehigh meets their basketball nemesis tonight when they face Princeton. We may as well call them "daddy" after looking at their overall record against us: 29-2, with our last win coming in 1930. (22 consecutive losses. 22! ) Our super-freshman G Marquis Hall had better be ready to play some defense: the Tigers have been known to launch it from 3-point land a lot this year at a 40% clip. Not to mention the added

FCS Playoffs, And No Ivy league

It always seems to come up this time of year, when teams like Montana, Appalachian State, Youngstown State and UMass are playing in the FCS (formerly the I-AA) playoffs. Namely, how come the "Ancient Eight" (pictorially represented to my left) are not in the playoffs? The short answer? They don't want to. I think any Lehigh fan (or Patriot League fan, for that matter) knows what the playoff bid has meant for the conference in terms of football identity. It has been invaluable in giving not only the obvious rivalry game (Lehigh/Lafayette) meaning, but also games like Colgate/Lafayette, Lehigh/Colgate, Fordham/Colgate, and others. You can get an Ivy or NEC education, but only the Patriot League gives you the opportunity to play for a national championship. The Northeast Conference, or NEC, doesn't have an autobid but has been desperately trying to get one. I think they see the instant "street cred" you get from a spot in the playoffs. But more curiously, the I

FCS Playoffs and Some Basketball Notes

The FCS playoffs, second round, have started. My predictions are posted on the College Sporting News website, which you can check here . The big upset prediction? Southern Illinois upsetting Montana. As for TV, you can watch New Hampshire at UMass on CN8 (or watch it live here ), and at 4PM on ESPN2 you can watch Montana State get hammered by Applachian State. (Well, that's what I think will happen.) The Lehigh Women's basketball team is currently on a swing through Ohio. After losing last night to powerful Ohio University 57-40, the Lady Hawks have fallen to a disappointing 2-5 after a 2-0 start (including a surprising win over Syracuse of the Big East). Hopefully 1-5 Akron will prove to be a good chance for a win, whose only win came over Binghamton this year, but the Lady Hawks will have to overcome some woeful shooting from the past few games to get this thing turned around. Predictably, the men dismantled D-III Swarthmore 96-33, which stopped a three-game slide to

Lehigh Football Ending... or Beginning?

The chants of "Lafayette Sucks" from Easton have died down; Lafayette's time in the FCS playoffs are done after this weekend; Lehigh's fall sports season is coming to a close; and the temptation is to put away the talk about Lehigh football for another year. Although I'm thinking about talking about other Lehigh sports in this space (though with the Lady Hawks basketball team sitting at 2-3 losing to the Lady Dragons of Drexel, and the men's basketball team sitting at an incredibly disappointing 2-6 after losing to Notre Dame last night), the truth is this blog is about Lehigh football, first and foremost. And although the 2006 season is over, recruiting for 2007 is very much underway already and in two short months we'll have an idea about how far Lehigh is in regards to getting another Patriot League title and FCS playoff bid in the future. With the FCS playoffs not even over yet, rumors are flying. Will a former Patriot League freshman of the week be

Sunday's Word: Rematch

Against the advice of some of the readers of this blog, Sunday's word isn't going to be the word "apologist" (for my Leopardphilia this week) or "unprofessional" (for my humorous post about UMass). Instead, I'm going for "rematch". There is going to be plenty of time to recap the 2006 Patriot League season, which ended Saturday with Lafayette's loss to UMass 35-14. There's time to go over the performance of coach Coen and to start thinking of the offseason. But it's still playoff time, and the two games everyone must be following are a pair of regular-season rematches between bitter leaguemates. It's somewhat ironic that in the BCS world we're very likely going to be denied the rematch that most fans would rather see (Ohio State/Michigan) in favor of a game which will be a whitewash in Ohio State/USC. In the world of the FCS playoffs, however, we get two interiguing second-round matchups that are very special rematches that

UMass 35, Lafayette 14, final

You can read my writeup of the game on CSTV's website. Even though Lafayette kept this game close through the third quarter, for the third straight playoff trip Lafayette played a top team close for (nearly) three quarters, but being unable to pull things out in the end. Lafayette acquitted themselves well in my opinion. UMass head coach Don Brown praised Lafayette saying that their staff "is the smartest I've coached against this year". If you couldn't bring yourself to root for Lafayette, you got your with with the Leopard loss. But the Patriot League in a down year showed that they will still be heard from in years to come. All in all, not a bad deal for the Patriot League as 2006 has come to a close for everyone in the Patriot League. I think I went 7-1 in my playoff picks this week... not bad.

UMass 21, Lafayette 14, halftime

Are you watching this game? UMass had this game under control until about 3 minutes in the second quarter, and then got an interception, converted for a TD. Then the Leopards forced a fumble off the return, and then converted THAT for a TD, making this a game. It's on CN8. You really should be watching this.

10 Reasons To Root For Lafayette

Awaking from my turkey coma, it dawns on me that I forgot to do my promised blog posting on Lehigh and the All-Patriot League teams. It will have to wait probably until early next week. Why? The first round of the FCS playoffs is tomorrow, and you're simply going to have to do the unthinkable: root for Lafayette. Yes, dear reader, I know. It's difficult to bring yourself to look yourself in the mirror and root for the team that kicked our ass last Saturday. But trust me when I say it's worth it. Just to help you out, here are 10 reasons to root for Lafayette. 1. Revenge for 1998. If it wasn't for that bogus pass interference call, Lehigh would have beaten UMass and won the I-AA championship. 2. You just know that the players are looking at Lafayette's 6-5 record and are thinking to themselves at some level, "cupcake". 3. As ugly as they are, Lafayette is the only member of our league, the Patriot League, playing in the playoffs. 4. UMass whined

I-AA/FCS Playoff Predictions

It's a little hard to read, but to your left is the brackets for the I-AA (oops, I mean D-I Football Championship Subdivision) playoffs for 2006. As promised, I'm weighing in on my thoughts on the selections. Like the NCAA basketball tournament, the bracket is broken down in a series of "seeds". You could call each section of the bracket the equivalent of an NCAA "regional", though it's not necessarily geographic in nature. The four seeds: #1 Appalachian State, #2 Montana, #3 UMass and #4 Youngstown State are guaranteed a home game through their "regional". Let's break down the bracket. The Appalchian State Regional Coastal Carolina at #1 Appalachian State. "Congratulations Coastal, you've just gotten the first-ever invite to the playoffs. What are you going to do?" "We're going to Boone, NC!" was probably not the first thing they had in mind, but there we are. Hard to see the Mountaineers lose this game, but ke

Worst Sports Weekend Ever?

I guess I haven't totally gotten "grace" yet, but I can't stop thinking about the flow of the weekend, sports-wise, that couldn't be described in any other way than "train wreck". (Apropos for a blog talking about Lehigh Enigneer... I mean, Mountain Hawk football.) I wake up on Saturday, and it's a sunny day. Beautiful. And I couldn't have had a better feeling of karma driving up to Easton. It felt like the moon was in the seventh house, Jupiter aligned with Mars, and the sports world was aligned for me. Let's recap what happened after that, shall we? * The 142nd. Lehigh, of course, loses. * Later that evening, I watch my wife's alma mater, Rutgers, get humiliated by Cincinnati 30-11. Their outside shot at a national championship is gone; their shot at a BCS bowl requires them to run the table. * I wake up the next day greeted by the realization that the Flyers, unsurprisingly, got drilled 6-1 by the San Jose Sharks, cementing their

Sunday's Word: Grace

The long offseason of Lehigh's football team starts now, with the lingering image to my left being the lasting memory of the 2006 season. Next week, we learned, Lafayette will have to play mighty UMass up in Amherst, MA, as a reward for beating us. I'm not sure if the Leopards will be able to compete with the strong defense and powerful running game of the Minutemen. But there's plenty of time to talk about that, predict the playoffs, and honor the seniors who did their best yesterday. It's time to talk about "grace". We're in that difficult situation right now where we need to find some "grace". Something inside us that puts the loss behind us, and allows us all to cheer for Lafayette next week. But these losses hurt, and you can't go through that much emotion without feeling some lingering bad feelings. I have them too. The view of the (thankfully few) drunk Lafayette students swearing and cursing out the Lehigh players as they left t

Lafayette 49, Lehigh 27, final

Where to begin? I'm tossed. Part of me wants to lay into Lehigh's inability to tackle today, and their inability to stop 3rd down conversions. Letting the Leopards drop 49 points on us is something that is incredibly disappointing, with an eye-popping 6-for-6 in the red zone. Not to mention the 466 yards of offense. It was a bad day for us in "The Rivalry" defensively, to put it mildly. I can't remember a day when our defense got such a butt-whoopin'. 1994 leaps to mind - of course, that was the last time Lafayette pounded us in Fisher by scoring more than 40 points. (That game was 54-20.) Yet, it wasn't 1994. The team didn't simply turn over and play dead down 28-7. They came all the way back and rode the momentum back to 28-27. The team battled back, and that shouldn't be forgotten. Midway through the 3rd quarter, we all had serious hope. There is no doubt about that. But that was the end of the line. In crunch time, the offense didn

Friday Happy Hour: Lehigh/Lafayette

With apologies to the NYC Lehigh Club of 2003, it's time for this weekend's Water Cooler... I mean, Happy Hour! Lehigh and Lafayette alumni are undoubtedly getting their final arrangements together to either head back to Bethlehem and Easton to catch the 142nd, or you can make like these folks did and go to a Lehigh/Lafayette telecast party anywhere around the country. If you haven't gotten your plans ready, you can just surf on over to the Lehigh Alumni web site for information. A list of locations for the Lehigh/Lafayette telecasts are listed, directions to Lafayette, and a link to the best unofficial news source on Lehigh football. (One guess.) As to tailgating at Easton, I only have a couple of suggestions, namely: Get there early. The parking garage next to Fisher is a great place to tailgate, but it's the pros that generally get there early (if it's not for season-ticket holders - I'm not sure). If you miss that (like I probably will), you'll have to p

Memories of "The Rivalry"

"The Rivalry" means different things to different fans. To some, it's an extension of the high school rivalries between Bethlehem and Easton. To others, it's a fun party and a way to blow off steam after a tough semester at Lehigh or Lafayette: the last big blowout before Thanksgiving or the Christmas holidays. To others it's being a part of history: something that has been here long before us. Everyone can agree that "The Rivalry" is simply something that trancends a mere football game. Lehigh and Lafayette are only separated by 13 miles along historic Route 22, which means that the fans, students and alumni of both schools don't have to travel far to see the game. If you're a student, you can leave your fraternity in the morning, get to the game, and be back in time to celebrate on Saturday night. More than other rivalries, the Bethlehem, Allentown, and Easton communities are also flush with "The Rivalry" as well. It transcends "

Preview of Lehigh/Lafayette

This picture, taken just after the end of the Lafayette/Georgetown game, lends itself to the imagination as to what exactly head coach Frank "GQ" Tavani is telling his players. It probably involves the words "focus", "championships", and "climbing higher". But the point is clear. Just like 2004 and 2005, he will have his troops focused and ready for "The Rivalry". The 5 game losing streak, the struggles against the Ivy League, the loss to Holy Cross, the slow start. All history to the Leopards now. The only history they will be looking at is 2004 and 2005. 2004. A year where Lehigh fans remember getting pummled by Lafayette 24-10 in what will end up being the last Lehigh/Lafayette game in an unrenovated Fisher field, complete with "Woodrow Wilson Era" bathrooms and a pressbox you couldn't shoehorn your grandmother into. A game where we went into halftime with a 7-0 lead, a hungry Leopard team took control with some tough p

Press Roundup: Fordham/Lehigh

We can't get to Lehigh/Lafayette without celebrating the week that was: the Fordham game which got us to this game for "all the marbles" in the Patriot League. There will be plenty of time for breaking down "THE Rivalry" (Wednesday), talking about the personal side of "THE Rivalry" (Thursday), and, of course, what folks are saying around the water cooler (Friday). For now, we give out game balls for last week's game. On offense, it's fitting that we give balls to senior RB Marques Thompson and the "O" Line, junior T Jimmy Kehs, senior G Pete Morelli, senior C John Reese, senior G Jim Petrucelli, and senior T Jason Russell. The line simply smothered the Fordham defensive line and forged 237 net rushing yards for our offense, while Thompson scorched the Rams to the tune of 144 all-purpose yards and 3 TDs. A completely dominating performance for a boatload of seniors who are the reason why we're here this year. Defensively I'll