Lehigh sophomore guard Kyle Leufroy dribbles past Bucknell guard Avi Toomer during Lehigh's loss in the Patriot League Championships on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at Sojka Pavilion. Leufroy is expected to assume a bigger scoring role next season. (Sarah Epstein/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s basketball to change style of play after back-to-back PLC losses


For the second year in a row, the Lehigh men’s basketball team was one win shy of going dancing in the NCAA tournament.

Coach Brett Reed was proud of his team’s effort to get back to the championship game this past season, despite the team coming up just short of its goal in the end.

“It’s our guy’s goal and dream to play in the NCAA tournament,” Reed said. “Having the chance to be in the Patriot League Championship game gets you right on the doorstep, unfortunately we weren’t able to bust the door open.”

Reed credits the loss to Bucknell’s championship performance and the overall level of basketball played in the Patriot League. As a No.13 seed in the NCAA tournament, Bucknell put up a strong fight against No.4 seed West Virginia, losing 86-80.

Late in the season for Lehigh, injuries mounted up. While some were injuries that sidelined players, others were minor injuries that kept player’s from performing at an optimal level.

“We had to fight really hard just to get back to the championship and sometimes that can take a lot out of you,” Reed said.

As the Tim Kempton era comes to an end, Lehigh will turn to its experienced back court to lead the program.

“This upcoming year’s team may be more guard oriented than what we’ve had with Kempton anchoring our interior.” Reed said.

Traditionally, Reed runs an up-tempo team that shares the ball well, and he believes a lot of those attributes will be in place moving forward. Reed also has a crop of guards who will be major contributors to next year’s team.

Rising senior Kahron Ross will take lead of the Mountain Hawks in his final season. The point guard has earned All-Patriot League honors in each of his first three seasons. Ross has started 92 out of 93 career games for Lehigh and has a career stat line of 10.5 points per game, 5.7 assists per game, and 2.9 rebounds per game.

With seniors Austin Price and Kempton graduated, rising junior Kyle Leufroy, a two-year starter, will carry a heavier load offensively. Leufroy averaged 11.4 points per game last season while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from the 3-point line.

Leufroy’s offseason training will include expanding his offensive game, specifically focusing on improving his jump shot off the dribble and utilizing his mid-range game more.

Two freshmen, Pat Andree and Jordan Cohen, played significant minutes for Lehigh in their first collegiate season and the two will step into bigger roles as well. Rising sophomore Jack Lieb and rising junior Caleb Sedore will look to bolster a depleted front court as they both recover from season-ending injuries.

“Everybody has to step up next year,” Ross said. “Losing two key starters is big, so for us to be successful everybody has to improve and step up to the challenge.”

Leufroy said Lehigh’s road to the NCAA Tournament begins long before the season starts. Consistency will be a focus within the program throughout off-season workouts.

“The want is there but we’ve had too many moments where we don’t look like a championship team,” Leufroy said. “We must start being consistent with our play and just have a strong desire, will, and want to.”

Rising senior Lance Tejada, a transfer from Eastern Carolina University, will be eligible to play for the Mountain Hawks next season. “LT”, as the team calls him, was able to practice with the team throughout this season where he demonstrated a high level of talent. Ross and Leufroy are both excited to play alongside Tejada next season and believe he will fit in perfectly with the system.

“LT will bring toughness to the team and has the ability to take over a game at any point,” Ross said.

Lehigh also welcomes two incoming freshmen, Marques Wilson and Caleb Bennett. Wilson and his high school team just won the Oklahoma high school 6A state championship, where he was awarded MVP after scoring 23 points and 8 rebounds.

After tough back-to-back losses in the Patriot League Championship, the Mountain Hawks are hungry to return to the title game. With a more guard oriented, fast paced offense, Ross is excited to get back to work.

“We know what it takes to get there, it’s just a matter of bringing our ‘A game,’ every game” Ross said.

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