Basketball Scouting Report: Lehigh
Navy's offense isn't something to depend on, as anyone and everyone around the program knows. However, the Midshipmen have to be able to patch together enough contributions in order to give themselves a chance. This did not happen against Colgate, and as a result, a few weeks of relatively encouraging performances dissolved in an ugly 22-point loss to an 0-5 Patriot League team. The taste of that loss was beyond sour, but the great thing about college hoops is that another game comes along just a few days later. Navy can expunge that bad taste against Lehigh.
The Mountain Hawks have enjoyed their most fruitful period as a program over the past four years under current head coach Brett Reed. Thanks to the brilliance of guard C.J. McCollum, Lehigh made two of its five NCAA tournament appearances in that span of time. The Mountain Hawks also won an NCAA tournament game for the first time ever, and they made it count. Lehigh joined the list of 15 seeds to beat a No. 2 seed, dumping Duke in Greensboro, N.C., in the round of 64 in 2012. The Mountain Hawks nearly became the first 15 seed to reach the sweet 16, but they lost to Xavier in the round of 32. Florida Gulf Coast became that history-making Sweet 16 team one year later.
Now, though, McCollum is no longer around, which means Lehigh is starting from scratch. Lehigh fits with the rest of the Patriot League in that this is a conference marked by parity. Navy found out how balanced and up for grabs this conference is in its loss to Colgate last Saturday. The Midshipmen need to be able to beat a 1-5 Patriot League team after falling to an 0-5 conference opponent this past weekend.
Center – Tim Kempton – Freshman, 6-10, 225 2013-14: 12.7 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game
Does this name sound familiar? It should. This Tim Kempton is the son of the original Tim Kempton, a center who carved out a 12-year NBA career from 1986 to 1998. Carrying almost a "14 and 7" average as a freshman isn't too shabby. This is the centerpiece of Lehigh basketball for the coming years.
Forward – Jesse Chuku – Sophomore, 6-8, 225; 2013-14: 8.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.4 blocked shots per game
You can see that Lehigh owns a lot of size. Chuku is another underclassman frontcourt player who is appreciably productive. His shot-blocking ability at 6-8 tells you that he possesses solid defensive instincts.
Forward – Shane Whitfield – Freshman, 6-7, 210; 2013-14: 4.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Whitfield averages fewer minutes than any other Lehigh starter. He's gained as many minutes as he has because teammate Conroy Baltimore has been out with an injury over the past few weeks.
Guard – Corey Schaefer – Junior, 6-1, 175; 2013-14: 9.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.8 assists per game
Schaefer does just enough of everything to blend into Lehigh's structure at both ends of the floor. He's not a dynamic player, but he enables this team to function on both offense and defense. He knows he's not the volume shooter on this squad, so he gets out of the way for the next player on this list:
Guard – Mackey McKnight – Senior, 6-0, 170; 2013-14: 14.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.6 steals per game
McKnight doesn't shoot the lights out – he hits only one third of his threes, and his overall shooting rate is just 40 percent. Yet, he is this team's leading scorer and the player who gets the rock in late-game situations. Navy has to make McKnight uncomfortable and ensure that if he does take a lot of shots, they're not good ones.
In what is an eight-man rotation at the moment, Lehigh's primary reserve is freshman guard Austin Price, who averages 9.7 points and 1.1 steals per game.
Keys to the Game
1) Get into the paint on offense. A struggling offense simply has to get closer to the rim, ideally to draw fouls and create foul shots, but also to get higher-percentage looks and force defenses to make choices in terms of stopping dribble penetration. On the dribble or by means of the pass, Navy has to get the ball in or near the paint, especially the elbows. This can form the basis for a better offensive performance.
2) Don't allow McKnight to get too comfortable. McKnight will shoot the ball; Navy simply has to make sure McKnight isn't shooting comfortable and uncontested shots.
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