The Lehigh men’s basketball team’s last season ended in an 81-61 loss in the Patriot League semifinals to Colgate — the program that eliminated the Mountain Hawks both times in the last two years.
Senior guard Reed Fenton said the loss was particularly hard for him.
“I thought we had a good chance to win the whole thing,” Fenton said. “Every time we have a playoff loss, it just motivates us even more for the next season, especially since we have a lot of guys coming back and a good shot at doing something special here.”
Together with senior guard Evan Taylor, the two have focused on coming back even stronger through honing in on their leadership skills. Fenton and Taylor were announced as co-captains for the 2022-2023 season by coach Brett Reed.
As close friends, Taylor said there was no one else he would want to serve as a captain with.
“We have both been doing this for the past four years,” Taylor said. “We have been grinding together. So just to see us make it this far and then be co-captains together is something that’s very special to me and that I will remember forever.”
With this as motivation, Fenton said he set out to have a productive off-season. He said he has tried to keep his body healthy so as to not fall back and get injured during the long six months of the season.
Fenton said the team’s summer workouts also helped to develop skills and team camaraderie.
“We become better when we are competing with each other,” Fenton said.
Senior guard Jake Betlow said he believes the two captains can lead the Mountain Hawks to wins this season, as he sees how underclassmen seek to emulate their behavior on the court and in the classroom.
“Reed (Fenton) and Evan (Taylor) are two of my best friends, and I don’t think there is anyone better suited to lead our team to a championship,” Betlow said.
Taylor and Fenton said they have their sights set on staying atop the Patriot League this season by ending conference play above a .500 record.
Fenton said the team has done a good job of learning from its mistakes so far this season.
Lehigh opened up its season with two losses against Syracuse and Virginia Tech, both of the ACC. Despite the losses, Fenton said the team learned a lot.
“Opening up with two strong ACC opponents was good for us,” Fenton said. “It opened our eyes to the type of competition we will have to face if we want to reach our goal of making the NCAA Tournament. We lost to both of those teams badly, but we want to reach that point where we can compete with those teams. “
The two captains said they have a strong belief in their team’s ability to achieve their goals for this season. Taylor said their hope is to be at their peak by the time Patriot League play starts.
Taylor said he thinks he and Fenton can also motivate the team even when they face struggles during the season, and they are hoping to set a strong foundation for the team even after they graduate.
“Whenever there’s certain situations where people could go out on their own or start feeling down for whatever reasons, I think we do a good job of picking guys up and making sure that we’re all working as one unit and as one team,” Taylor said.