Fast forward to this year. The Lady Hawks again had a fantastic season in the Patriot League, ending with an emphatic Patriot League title win vs. American this Saturday at Stabler. Would Lehigh get downgraded again?
No, they wouldn't. Lehigh will be travelling this weekend to Ames, Iowa, to take on Iowa State as a No. 13 seed. In one of the final games of the first round, Lehigh has a good matchup and a chance to make history. (more)
“Last year we were a little disappointed with our seed and it’s very exciting to get the 13 seed this year and represent the league,” junior G Erica Prosser explained at the Goosey Gander room after the selection. And and thought of Lehigh thinking that they're just "happy to be there?" Think again: "“We don’t want to settle with just being part of the Tournament, we would like to go there and have some success.” head coach Sue Troyan said after the selection.
Not to say that it will be easy by any stretch. While Lehigh didn't lose on their home court all season, Bill Fennelly's Iowa State team shared similar success, going 16-1 at home this year. (Their lone loss came to the No. 2 team in the country, Nebraska.) They're third nationally in attendance, too - 9,633 a game, right behind UConn and Tennessee.
Fennely heaped praise on the Lady Hawks in his statement from the Iowa State press release. "They (Lehigh) look on paper a lot like us,” he said. “They don’t score a lot, are a good defensive team, shoot the three a lot, and we’re obviously scrambling like crazy to find out. You win 29 games, and you are doing something right. We’ll spend a long night tonight trying to get information and luckily we don’t play until Sunday. The challenge of playing someone new is always fun. We’ll do the best we can to get ready.”
Similarly, Troyan was beginning the process on collecting information on the Lady Cyclones as well. "We’ll know more tomorrow when we watch a little film,” she said. “The little we do know is that we match up pretty well with them because they play a similar style to us. They have a good point guard and a talented inside player that is pretty versatile. Our kids will have some confidence because we match up well.”
Worthy of mention too is something brought up in ESPN's preview of the Dayton bracket: that "it all centers around the health of senior G Allison Lacey, who had pneumonia, a bronchial illness...they say she'll play in the NCAA tournament, but how effective will she be as their point guard?" If she's not 100%, that might help our swarming defense, led by senior G Tricia Smith, shut down the Lady Cyclones' outside shot.
Both the men's basketball team and women's basketball team will be facing off against the best the Big XII has to offer. But Sunday in particular should be a whale of a game. Lehigh doesn't just want to look good: they want to advance.