The Lehigh Mountain Hawks in huddle with head coach Brett Reed during a home game against Bucknell on Feb. 23, 2023, at Stabler Arena. (Juan Rosas/B&W Staff)

Men’s basketball looks to recapture Patriot League glory for first time in a decade


After experiencing bottom-three finishes in 2020 and 2021, Lehigh men’s basketball strives once again to earn the reputation of Patriot League playoff contender.

The Mountain Hawks went 11-7 in the Patriot League and 16-13 overall to conclude their 2022-2023 regular season and will be the third seed in the upcoming Patriot League tournament.

Since head coach Brett Reed began leading the program in 2008, Lehigh has played in the Patriot League championship four times, winning the title in 2010 and 2012 under the leadership of New Orleans Pelican CJ McCollum, ‘13.

However, the last two trips to the championship game in 2016 and 2017 saw Lehigh lose, once at home and then at Bucknell.   

Associate coach Harry Morra was the video coordinator on the 2012 team that defeated Duke in the NCAA tournament and later stepped into his coaching position in 2016. 

“The messaging, the identity, the values that the program has will remain the same,” Morra said. “The things we value the most teamwork, toughness, commitment, family, no excuses, next play mentality those will stay the same and have stayed the same.” 

After their trip in 2017, Lehigh stagnated in the early rounds of the tournament. From 2019 to 2021, the team saw three straight losing seasons.

Despite the poor start to 2021, Lehigh moved closer to completing their rebuilding period when they made it to the Patriot League semi-final. This year, the team recorded 19 wins and will host the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

Reed said the identity of the program has palpable impacts. He believes this year’s team exhibits great team chemistry and team unity.

“They all really care about each other and that’s something that you don’t have happen all the time,” Reed said. “Hopefully (that) can be an exponential force for us to help us play great basketball moving into playoff time.” 

On the court, Morra said the 2022-2023 Mountain Hawks draw similarities to teams from years past that he has coached and watched. Lehigh attacks defenses with three-point shooting and unrelenting attacks to the rim from their guards. 

Sophomore guard Keith Higgins Jr. and senior guard Evan Taylor are Lehigh’s two leading scorers, averaging 14.9 and 14.2 points per game, respectively.

Guard play has been pivotal to Lehigh’s success under Reed and Morra. When Lehigh struggled in 2020 and 2021, Morra said they may have strayed from their winning formula in the backcourt. 

This year, Morra believes one significant difference from past programs is using sophomore Ben Knostman and junior Jalin Sinclair as dedicated point guards.

Junior forward Dominic Parolin said the team admires the successes from its past, but he thinks this version of Lehigh is ready to write their own history. In order to achieve this, he thinks they need to stick to what brought them there. 

“Everyone on our team is playing their role well and nobody wants to be the star,” Parolin said. “Everyone is happy to make a play for someone else and let the other person shine.”

Lehigh may be able to end their 11-year Patriot League title drought, but the road to doing so includes potentially going through three-time reigning league champion Colgate, which only suffered one conference loss all season. 

Senior guard Reed Fenton said the team is doing well and is working hard to be their best entering the playoffs. Fenton has played in at least 15 games in each of his four seasons with Lehigh. He said he saw the team’s successful season coming and wants to make the most of it. 

“Over these last six months we’ve put ourselves in a really good position to win it all.” Fenton said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it and leaving it all out there.”

Lehigh opens Patriot League tournament play on March 2 at home against Lafayette. 

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