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Tonight: Round 1 for the Men

Tonight at 7:00PM, the Lehigh men's basketball team will be battling Army in the first round of the Patriot League tournament, and if you're in the area you had better show up! It's postseason basketball, man, and anything can happen. Win, and we play again; lose, and the season is over.

During the regular season we lost at Army 64-59, but we beat the Black Knights at Stabler 75-64. In our loss, senior G Jose Olivero had 7 points. In our win, Olivero had 30 points. No bonus stars as to what we need to do to win tonight and move on (probably) to Sojka in Lewisburg, PA to face Bucknell.

In a bit of a surprise, coach Taylor is starting a three-guard lineup with two good ballhandlers in freshman G Marquis Hall (no surprise) and sophomore G Tim Szalachowski (a surprise), which means senior C Jason Mgebroff will be coming off the bench. I love Patriot League tournament time, and I'll be following on the radio. (If you're not near a radio, you can also follow along on Notice that it looks like the game will NOT be on Service Electric 2, so either you have to get to a radio, get to a computer, or get your butt to Stabler, to find out what happens.

This is a first for the Patriot League tournament venues hosting all the first and second round games. In an article written by Andre Williams of the Morning Call, Patriot League executive director Carolyn Femovich, Bucknell head coach pat Flannery and Lehigh head coach Billy Taylor weigh in on the new format:

''I expect that we are going to stay with this for a number of years,'' said Carolyn Femovich, the Patriot League's executive director. ''I think the one thing that might cause us to go in a different way is that, if we found a neutral site that was somewhat central for our membership, that would allow us to bring everyone together without a home-court advantage, and I think we'd look seriously into that.''

Not all coaches are in favor of this current format.

''I'd love to see the tournament at one site,'' said Bucknell coach Pat Flannery, whose Bison could possibly host all three tournament games. ''I'd love to see us go to Hershey or the Wachovia Center [in Philadelphia] or something. I just think that's fantastic.''

The neutral-site format is beneficial for other reasons.

''I also like it for our team because I think you can prepare for teams quicker,'' Flannery said.

The quarterfinal and semifinals in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 tournaments were held at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., a rural suburb of Washington, D.C.

It attracted few fans, but at least all eight teams opened play at the same site.

The Patriot League women's quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., March 3-4.

''We've tried a number of different formats just in my five years being in the league, so I'll see how this works,'' Lehigh coach Billy Taylor said.
I happen to agree with all the folks quoted above that we should have a centrally-located location for the Patriot League tournament. And I have the perfect venue in mind. Why not the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ?

Aside from the fact that it's a stone's throw from where I live (and, by the way, many Patriot League alumni), it's fairly centrally located (almost equidistant from Worcester, MA and Annapolis, MD), it's a reasonable-sized venue for schools of our size (its capacity is 9,000, not as cavernous as the Wachovia center, for example), and just last year they were hoping to host part of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. For them, hosting the Patriot League men's and women's tournaments would be the perfect precursor to hosting men's or women's tournament games.

It looks to me that all you'd need to do is talk to the Trenton Titans (an ECHL club) to go on a road trip the first week in March. Am I the only person thinking that this sort of arrangement would be a win/win for everybody?


Anonymous said…
Put me down as being opposed to anything that Flannery favors.
Anonymous said…
Matt Szalachowski, not Tim .. Go Lehigh
Anonymous said…
Matt Szalachowski is with out a doubt one of the worst players to ever start or play for LU basketball. I don't know what was in Taylor's mind, but he killed the team with kid who is the brother of his assistant coach. He is a D-3 player at best. LU will not draw if this is the best we can offer on court
Anonymous said…
Anonymous....You are way off base... Matt Szalachowski often played in front of larger crowds than he does at Lehigh against guards that are now in the NBA, ACC, Big Ten, Big East ,Pac10, SEC (and the list goes on), while he Prepped for 2 years at the National Prep basketball powerhouse, Blair Academy. He MORE than held his own (14 pts., 4 assists per game) against many players who, quite frankly, the Patriot League couldn't possibly recruit. You should know that other Patriot teams wanted Matt, but he chose Lehigh in order to stay close to family and friends. And if you still don't believe me...bring your local D-3 guards over to the gym for some pick up games with Matt and I know he'll silence you!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for your input Dad

Love, Matt
Anonymous said…
Cute, anonymous...Nope, not related to Matt in any way,shape,or form. I saw him play in several games at the Prep level while scouting another player. My point, (although most likely lost on you) is that Matt has Patriot League skills. I just got finished watching Duke, Boston College and Louisville...all with ex-teamates of Matt's on their roster. And I repeat, HE MORE THAN HELD HIS OWN on the court with these guys. Your complaint about individual defense is typical of one made by someone who doesn't see the nuances of team defense...maybe the Bigs weren't bumping the cutters...maybe no one was rotating quickly enough or fighting over picks or properly hedging. OH...FYI, Matt's coach at the Prep level was an assistant coach at Lehigh in the '90s and knows a little better than you whether Matt can play for the Hawks. Cut him some slack!
Anonymous said…
Just read these posts. I don't know what Szlachowski did at Blair, but he sure has not shown anything at Lehigh. I am a season ticket holder and have observed his play over the past two years and agree with the post that felt he was not an asset. While I agree Neptune 's play fell off on offense, he was at least a good defender and rebounder.LU needs better contributions from Matt and especially Gorley who has spent more time in Sports Med. than the ewst of the team combined. Gorlay has been a big waste of a scholarship for a #1 recruit.

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