The Lehigh men’s and women’s basketball teams tipped off their seasons Nov. 11 and have since played eight and nine games respectively.
The men’s team has started off with a 4-4 record, while the women’s team has notched a 5-4 mark.
Women’s coach Sue Troyan said the team has played some competitive, tight games against Cornell University, Fairfield College and Mount St. Mary’s University, all of which ended with a Lehigh victory. She believes this has been an asset for her squad up to this point.
“One of the strong points is that we’ve played in a lot of close games, and we’ve come out on top of those games,” Troyan said. “That’s really a sign of growth and maturity for this team.”
The Mountain Hawks played a Big Ten opponent in the University of Minnesota and also played Villanova University. Although both ended in losses, Troyan said these games have helped the team develop and progress as a unit.
She said the non-conference schedule is about challenging the team and exposing weaknesses to ultimately prepare its for upcoming Patriot League play.
Troyan said versatility proves to be a strength, but she wants to develop a focus on defense to help the team rise to the top of the Patriot League.
Sophomore point guard Hannah Hedstrom also believes the adaptability of the team provides a true threat to opponents.
“Not relying on one person day in and day out has been key for us,” Hedstrom said. “Depending on the competition, different positions step up and get the job done. We definitely have more threats when it comes to the scouting report.”
Senior guard Quinci Mann (12.8 points per game) and sophomore guard Camryn Buhr (12.0 points per game) lead the team in scoring, and Hedstrom is a true point guard, scoring and distributing with 37 assists.
Hedstrom said the Patriot League is tough, but she knows her team will be prepared.
“Based on the strength of the (Patriot League) this year, it’s important to play in games that are intense and come down to the wire,” Hedstrom said. “The more, the better.”
The Lehigh men’s basketball team has also faced some top-tier competition out of the gate, as it played No. 10 University of Southern California, in addition to Pittsburgh University and No. 18 University of Virginia, out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Guard Lance Tejada, a junior transfer from East Carolina University, leads the team in scoring with 16.4 points per game. He embraces the challenge of playing larger schools because he said they have a different level of physicality and quickness that will help the toughness of the Mountain Hawks when it comes time for league play.
Tejada scored 22 points against the No. 1 defense in the country in Lehigh’s loss to Virginia on Saturday.
Tejada thinks the team is skilled at keeping its composure but needs more time to develop its defense and overall chemistry.
“We had some tough games that were close, which challenged us from the start,” Tejada said. “As a young team on the road, we did a really good job of fighting through to get some wins under our belts.”
The tightest game the Mountain Hawks played was against Siena College, which resulted in a 91-90 overtime win for Lehigh.
“It takes time and experience to get everyone gelling on the same page as far as chemistry goes,” Tejada said. “If we improve on that and overall defense, we should be very competitive during the end of the season.”
Behind Tejada, senior guard Kahron Ross (12.5 points per game) and junior guard Kyle Leufroy (11.1 points per game) aid in scoring. Freshman center James Karnik has also added some size in the paint, grabbing 52 rebounds for the Mountain Hawks.
Tejada is confident the return of another “skilled big” in redshirt junior Caleb Sedore, who has suffered two ACL injuries, will provide more size and scoring.
“We’re looking forward to capitalizing on everyone’s game and getting better as a unit,” Tejada said.