When the Patriot League men’s basketball preseason polls were released, Lehigh stood atop the rankings as the favorite to win the conference. Coaches voted with the assumption that the Mountain Hawks were at full strength and that depth would be one of the advantages they had over most teams.
That wasn’t the case.
Before the Mountain Hawks even played their first game against powerhouse Syracuse University, they were down three players. Sophomore guard Brandon Alston, freshman center Caleb Sedore and freshman forward Matt Holba suffered season-ending injuries.
Coming into the season, Alston was the leading candidate to fill the void left by Corey Schaefer, ’15, as the fifth starter. However, Alston suffered a torn ACL playing in a summer league at Georgetown University. The Vienna, Virginia, native averaged 4.9 points per game in 30 games last year.
His rookie season was highlighted by a 16-point performance against Rider University. He also notched 14 points and season-high six rebounds in a win over Navy.
“I’m really impressed,” Alston said, regarding the team’s performance in the Patriot League. “Even without me, I believe we are the most talented team in the league.”
Alston chose to do his rehab at home during the first semester and rejoined the team in the second semester. It has been nearly six months since Alston’s surgery and the recovery process has been smooth.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Holba when he signed his letter of intent to officially become a Mountain Hawk. Many regarded Holba as a steal for the team, including Rivals.com, a site that analyzes college sports recruiting.
Holba was ranked the ninth best player in the state of Indiana and the 36th best small forward in the country by ESPN. Last fall, Holba tore a tendon in his ankle. Now the highly touted recruit will have to wait another year before making his debut in brown and white.
“I should be able to do more basketball-related activities in the upcoming weeks,” Holba said. “As of now, I should be fully recovered by the summer, and I should be able to participate in team preseason workouts.”
Sedore came to campus measured at 6-foot-11, the tallest player on the Lehigh roster. The big man from upstate New York was going to be another solution for coach Brett Reed when the team had its rebounding struggles at the start of the season. Even at his size, Sedore is capable of stepping beyond the arc and knocking down shots. A few weeks before the opening game, Sedore tore his right ACL and a month later, he had a successful surgery.
“I’m just now starting to jump, move side to side, and I’ll be able to jog pretty soon, which is exciting,” Sedore said. “I think I’ll be better athletically than I was prior to the injury when I return.”
All three guys echoed that the team’s expectations remained the same even with all the injuries that have occurred. Despite a slow start and lack of personnel, the Mountain Hawks have bounced back with a seven-game winning streak and earned second place in the Patriot League. The team has one game left in the season — a road game against Army West Point.