The arena should be rocking tonight, as the Hawks of St. Joe swoop into Stabler. Don't let the respective 5-1 (LU) and 2-3 (SJU) records deceive you. Instead, look behind the numbers at the Sagarin Power Ranking and Schedule Strengths of both LU and SJU and their opponents. Other than our holiday visit to the West Coast to take on the Huskies of Washington, this should be our toughest test of the year. While a Mountain Hawk win tonight is not out of the question, a lot (and I mean a lot) of things have to go right. More about that later. First the numbers with Sagarin's Power Rankings and Schedule Strength shown in (xxx):
Lehigh (148 and 317)
win over Dartmouth (336 and 323)
win over Rutgers (180 and 321)
win over St. Francis (PA) (253 and 156)
loss to Rider (100 and 143)
win over Delaware St. (322 and 8)
win over St. Peter's (317 and 236)
St. Joe's (90 and 63)
loss to Alabama (102 and 219)
win over Indiana (129 and 160)
loss to Texas (15 and 170)
loss to Holy Cross (235 and 202)
win over Rider (100 and 143)
Keys to any win we might dream of:
1. Slow down (doubtful we'll stop) their 6'9" Sr. F out of St. Anthony's in Jersey City, Ahmad Nivins (18.0 ppg and 10.8 rpg) who boast a cool FG% of .681. Ahmad is a guy some think will be playing for money this time next year. Can Zahir Carrington and company limit his chances down low to 7 or 8 attempts while keeping him off the FT line? There he hits with team-high (.813) regularity.
2. Force St. Joe's to beat us from beyond the arc while staying in the face of Darrin Govens, their 6'1" Jr.
Guard at all times. You can bet our stopper, David Buchberger, has been watching some game film over the last few days. Govens is their only player hitting >.400 from deep and he also takes 42% of their long range shots. The rest of the team hits at a .217 clip.
3. Balanced scoring out of Lehigh. Continue to make our opponent guess from where our shots will come. Point production out of our starting five is any coach's dream: 29.2ppg from our forwards and 27.8 from our guards.
4. Another hot shooting night by Marquis Hall (28 vs. Rutgers) or Prentice Small (always good for 14-16 once a year....this could be it) wouldn't hurt either.
Actually, the "pack-it-in down low / challenge the long range shooters" defense we employed against Rutgers might work again tonight. Only trouble, SJU is not RU. It would seem, no matter what, we must enjoy one of those 45%+ shooting nights to walk away with a victory.