Posted: 10/12/2012 | Last updated: October 23, 2012 at 10:47 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men’s basketball team kicked off preseason practice on Friday evening with its first official practice of 2012-13. Expectations have never been higher for the Mountain Hawks, who are coming off a record-breaking 27-win season and historic NCAA Tournament win over Duke. Lehigh returns a stellar senior class of C.J. McCollum, Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner who have already combined for 3,788 points and 1,534 rebounds through their first three years.
“We’re really excited to start the year,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “We have high anticipation for our season with a strong returning team. It’s always fun for me as a coach, and for our other coaches, to work directly with our players in a practice setting. We’re going to build our team, and we’re also going to build players. It’s the great start of a journey.”
“Especially after last season, I couldn’t wait to get back out here with the guys,” said Greiner. “We’ve got a great group of freshmen who can contribute right away. I’m really excited to hopefully have another great year, and maybe we can even go a step further than last season.”
Lehigh won its second Patriot League Championship in three years behind an impressive 82-77 win at Bucknell in the title game. The 15th-seeded Mountain Hawks then defeated second seed Duke in the NCAA Tournament in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.
“It’s great to be back out here,” said Knutson. “We know every season’s different. I’ve been part of three teams already here and I’m really excited to see what this fourth team will be about.”
The first practice preceded Lehigh’s “Midnight Madness” set for Friday at 10:45 p.m. in Grace Hall, an event to kick off the men’s and women’s basketball seasons amongst the students and local community.
“I think the main goal is to play the best basketball we can in March,” said Greiner. “We know it’s going to be a tough road; we’ve got a really tough schedule this year. We just want to get better every day, work together and get to where we need to be during tournament time. Like last year, we want to find our stride at the end of the season, which we hope to do again.”
The Mountain Hawks feature a veteran group of McCollum, Knutson and Greiner, along with junior point guard Mackey McKnight and junior B.J. Bailey who came on down the stretch. Lehigh welcomes three talented freshmen onto this year’s team as well.
“So far, our leadership has been terrific and our players seem to be bought into the core principles of our program and are very eager to continue to maintain and enhance those as we progress,” said Reed. “I’m very pleased with what we’ve done thus far, but I also understand we have a long way to go. Fortunately, with the nucleus of returning players, we have players who understand what needs to be done and are consistently applying it.”
Check back to Lehighsports.com for continued updates on the Lehigh men’s basketball team leading into a much-anticipated 2012-13 season.
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