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The LFN Basketball Challenge

I have a lot of backlog to cover: Marist's acceptance into the Pioneer Football league, reducing by one the already thin pool of potential Patriot League schools; the football awards ceremony, which took place some weeks back; and even talk about spring football. But right here, right now, this weekend only two things matter athletically against our (second) biggest hoops rival.

The Lady Hawks face a good possibility of being the #1 seed throughout the Patriot League tournament if they beat Holy Cross tomorrow, in Worcester, at 1PM. If they win, they won't only get a great seed for the tournament but also enact some revenge on the Crusaders after they escaped Stabler with a win in January. But unless you live in Massachusetts, the best you can do is listen online or catch it on 91.3 FM in the Valley.

It's tonight, at Stabler, where Lehigh will have their best chance to host a home tournament game this Wednesday. It may as well be a playoff game against Holy Cross: the loser will probably be mired in the lower seeding in the tournament and will most likely have to travel to Washington, DC.

And here is the challenge, to alumni, students and fans.

Go to the game.

I know, I know. It's at 9:00PM on a Friday night. There's lots you could be doing. Going on the Hill. Heading to the Tally Ho. Spending time with your family. Practicing your bugle playing. Parking yourself in front of a barstool, or maybe even your own HD-TV, and watching the game tonight on ESPNU.

The weather is supposed to be bad, with the chance of snow. And the school doesn't make it easy to go to games sometimes, reportedly posting breathalysers on buses over to Goodman and Stabler to see games.

But this sort of game is what college basketball is all about. Two league rivals. A young Lehigh team that simply cannot seem to beat the Crusaders year in and year out. A Holy Cross team who featured players who played in the Big Dance last year. And although it's not a playoff game, it may as well be billed as such, since the loser will probably drop to Navy or American next Wednesday.

This is Division I basketball. It's the same division as Georgetown, Alabama, Kansas and Memphis. The winner of the Patriot League will earn the right to line up, toe to toe, with a Memphis or a Georgetown in the NCAA tournament. The one that everyone in the office follows, whether they've heard of Drake or not.

Lehigh has a reputation as a football school. Admittedly, football is my main passion for Lehigh. But running a close second with me is the men's and women's basketball teams. I've been to quite a few Patriot League tournaments. When Lehigh beat American for their first tournament since 1987, I was there. When Lehigh's women team faced off against the UConn women at Gampel Pavillion, I was there. I even went to the ECC tournament at Towson when Lehigh made the finals and had a shot at the big dance that year.

Stabler can rock for this game, and Stabler can rock for a first-round playoff matchup on Wednesday. I know this. All people need to do is get up from in front of their TVs and get over to Stabler. Tickets are a bargain, and the ESPNU cameras will be there. For students, it's a free ride to Stabler to see a shot at the Big Dance. For alumni, at $5 a ticket it's the best show in town.

The Hill will still be open after the game. So will the Tally Ho. Just go! Get loud! Scream your head off at coach Willard! Make Stabler a real home-field advantage, not a mausoleum! Get on ESPNU! Get nuts!

Stabler holds more than 3,000 fans when Lafayette comes to town. I've got to believe that the folks in the Valley can manage at least 1,600 screaming fans and students at Stabler. And if you get that - the loud fans, the energy in the air, the rivalry between the two schools - there will be no better place to be tonight anywhere in the Lehigh Valley.

Just go!


Anonymous said…
I wouldn't miss it. Let's meet atop the lower level of Section 4 at halftime.

Too bad Spring Break begins today. It'll hurt turnout in the Student Section. A crowd of 1600 would be quite an achievement, but doable.

If for no other reason, you'd think the fans would turn out to honor Tri-Captain, B.White on Senior Night. He's been fun to watch and will go all out (when doesn't he) tonight. Let's hope he and Carrington can neutralize Clifford (hold him to 15 points) and each give us 30 minutes, 8-10 points and the 7-9 boards. That should do it.

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