Sophomore center James Karnik poses after practice on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, at Stabler Arena. After playing a big role last season during his freshman year, Karnik is looking to continue to expand his game and improve this upcoming season. (Robert Smith/B&W Staff)

Karnik brings energy to basketball team as Mountain Hawks prep for season opener

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Bring energy.

That was sophomore center James Karnik’s goal when he first came to Lehigh.

Coming from Surrey, British Columbia, Karnik realized he needed to find his voice on the team, as he was stepping into a big role for the Mountain Hawks.

As a freshman, Karnik started 29 out of 30 games and averaged seven points and seven rebounds per game. He came in and immediately made an impact, especially with his work ethic and energy.

Junior forward Pat Andree was impressed with Karnik from the start.

“James played a big role last season and stepped up from the start of the season, after being asked to do a lot so early in his career,” Andree said. “He brought a lot of energy day-in and day-out and became more and more reliable as the year went on. He was matched up with very good centers on other team and would win the match up.”

Junior guard Jordan Cohen was also excited about how vocal and energetic Karnik was from the beginning of his college career.

“He tells you what he wants from you,” Cohen said. “It’s entertaining and helpful to have a teammate like him because he’s screaming and yelling, being crazy on the court. It really gives you energy. As a person, he’ll come up to me after practice and say, ‘Great job today. That’s exactly what I need from you.'”

However, Karnik isn’t completely satisfied with what he’s done since coming to Lehigh.

During his freshman season, Karnik struggled with foul trouble and pacing, but eventually got used to the flow of the game.

This year, he wants to do more.

“I worked on expanding my game because I felt that I wasn’t much of a threat outside of the paint,” Karnik said. “I worked on my shot a ton over the summer, and it’s something that my teammates and coaches have seen.”

Karnik said he lacked confidence last year. If he had a bad game, it was hard for him to get back into it, but now he knows he belongs with the Mountain Hawks.

Andree said he believes Karnik can be even more of a threat this season.

“(Karnik) has drawn more attention from other teams because of his play, which will be beneficial for everybody,” Andree said. “(Greater) presence that can be felt in the paint will lead to better shots and better looks for myself and my teammates.”

Andree said he is relentless, especially in practice where he brings an intensity and energy to the team.

Karnik also hopes to be recognized as a first or second-team All-Patriot League selection, as well as average a double-double.

“On the court, I want to be known as a leader, energy guy, tough, dedicated and willing to do the gritty stuff to get the job done,” he said.

Karnik also wants to be a good teammate.

“Off the court, I want my teammates to think of me as an approachable guy that’s easy to get along with,” Karnik said. “I want them to think of me like a family member or a brother.”

Picked by many as championship favorites, Karnik knows that the team cannot get complacent.

“Things are going really well so far,” Karnik said. “We have a great mindset this year. We’re really unselfish, which is something that we were struggling with last year. We were trying to get our own shots last year. This year, we’re really playing for each other. We’re implementing newer defenses and working on energy so that we’re always talking on the court.”

The 2018-2019 Lehigh men’s basketball team will kick off their season Nov. 6, at 8:30 p.m. when they head to West Long Branch, New Jersey to take on Monmouth.

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