Skip to main content

St. Joe's Hawks Swoop Into Bethlehem

(Photo Credit: The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Mercifully, our Mountain Hawk doesn't attempt to flap his wings during every minute of every half during men's basketball games.

Though hopefully our Mountain Hawk will be, let's just say, around the "other" flapping Hawk for some serious mocking action at 7:00 p.m. tonight at Stabler Arena as St. Joe's swoop in for the biggest men's basketball game in Stabler in years.

Normally, I wouldn't be advocating that our Lehigh men's basketball team mock anybody, never mind in December. But after a torrid 5-1 start - including a win over Rutgers of the Big East, capping off the most successful November Run in Lehigh men's basketball history - you can say quite resoundingly that the Mountain Hawks have earned the right to trash talk.

(Although this game could be hazardous to my health. I've already talked too much trash to my wife, a Rutgers alumna, about the Hawks' win over the Scarlet Knights. What if Lehigh also beat St. Joe's, the school that my father-in-law went to? I'd have to wear kevlar to Christmas dinner.)

Could Lehigh (5-1, RPI 125) do the unthinkable and also beat a team from the Atlantic 10 in St. Joe's (2-3, RPI 137) to start off the year? At home, Lehigh has a real chance to do just that - and against a team that not long ago was the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, too.

(Side note: Ever for a million years think St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli (now in his 14th year with the Hawks) looked at this game on the schedule and said, See, troops? This is the game that will improve your GPI! I didn't think so.)

The Hawks have played a brutal schedule to start the year, and have somewhat of a jumbled record. Unlike Lehigh, they beat Rider at home (69-57), and also drilled perennial NCAA Tournament team Indiana (80-54). But they lost to another Patriot League team this year in Holy Cross (73-69) and lost to two power conference teams in Alabama (58-48) and Texas (68-50). Those last two games were at the Maui Invitational last week, and the Hawks have just enjoyed a five-day layoff from those brutal games.

First and foremost, key to a Lehigh victory would be something that hasn't been a big factor in Lehigh men's basketball in recent years - a large, vocal, involved crowd packed with students. If we get an intimate weekday gathering of 500 well-wishers, that ain't cutting it. If we can get a loud 1,500-2,000 in Stabler tonight, the Mountain Hawks will stand a good chance of winning.

We'll also need yet another solid gold performance from our emerging inside-outside combo of junior F Zahir Carrington (14.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and junior G Marquis Hall (14.5 ppg, 4.3 assists pg). Both will need to be in solid double-digits to have a chance - but with St. Joe's solid perimeter defense (only allowing 28.6% from 3-point range) - it's Hall who might struggle to reach 10 points.

They'll have their hands full, though, against what ought to be a powerful inside-outside combination from St. Joe's with forward Ahmad Nivins (18.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and guards Darin Govens (13.8 ppg, 42.4% 3-pointers) and Tasheed Carr (13.2 ppg, 43.9% 3-pointers). If Govens and Carr get hot from the 3 point line, it could be a really long night. However, Lehigh has been making Stabler arena a palace of defense lately: in their last seven games at home, they've held every opponent to under 70 points.

One place where Lehigh might have a slight advantage is on the boards. With Hall and Carrington, senior F Phil Anderson is also averaging over 5 rebounds a game (6.5). Winning the battle on the boards could be the difference in the game for the Mountain Hawks.

One thing's for sure: if you can't be there in person (and it should be the best non "Rivalry"-themed basketball game in Stabler in years), you can check it out on Service Electric 2 in the Lehigh Valley, FCS Atlantic nationally, or watch the streaming game online courtesy of Lehigh

I can't wait!


Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

What To Look For On Sunday For the FCS Playoff Pairings

Lehigh are the Patriot League Football Champs, and will be playing in the 1st round of the FCS playoffs.

The FCS Playoff Bracket is going to be revealed on ESPNU at 11:00AM on Sunday on a selection show.  The team will be watching the selections live at the Goosey Gander to find out who they will play, and where.

The chance that Lehigh will host a home playoff game appears to be very slim.  Though record is technically not in consideration for whether a team will host a first-round game, other considerations (the lack of lights, no Noon playoff starts) make it difficult if not impossible to host a playoff game at Murray Goodman unless temporary lights are brought in.

Being that's the case, it seems very likely that Lehigh will be playing somewhere on the road in the 1st round.  Below the flip, I will give the bracket predictions of the experts and three things I think you should watch for during the selection show.