Canisius at Lehigh, 7 p.m., Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, Pa.
By Nick Veronica
Canisius Golden Griffins: 1-0, 0-0 MAAC, 0-0 road. RPI: 92. Kenpom: 189. Streak: W1.
Lehigh Mountain Hawks: 0-1, 0-0 Patriot, 0-0 home. RPI: 209. Kenpom: 213. Streak: L5, dating to last February.
What’s at stake: After a moderately surprising opening win over Vermont on Saturday, the Griffs have a chance to open 2-0 for the second time in three years under Jim Baron. Another win would go a long way for the confidence of a team that lost four starters and five of its top six scorers from a season ago.
About Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks are coming off a 77-66 road loss to No. 12 Villanova on Friday — a game that was tied with 11 minutes to play. Sophomore guard Austin Price (6-foot-4, 175) scored 24 points, center Tim Kempton (6-10, 225) had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Kahron Ross added seven assists.
If Lehigh could hang with Villanova for three-quarters of a game, matching up against the Griffs tonight shouldn’t be as daunting.
Lehigh was 14-18 (7-11 Patriot League) last year and graduated leading scorer and assist man Mackey McKnight. Kempton was a preseason all-conference selection and the team was picked to finish seventh out of 10. Brett Reed is in his eighth year as coach.
What the Griffs need to do: It’s only the second game and I already feel like a broken record, but the forwards really need to play big today. Lehigh outrebounded Villanova 29-21 over the weekend. Kempton stands at 6-10 and Jesse Chuku and Justin Goldsborough are 6-8. Josiah Heath and company did a good job limiting Vermont’s Ethan O’Day on Saturday, but Kempton poses a bigger threat. It’ll be interesting to see how Jim Baron uses Kevin Bleeker, as well.
Rings a bell: Does Lehigh basketball sound familiar? You might remember them as the 15-seed that knocked off Duke in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Current Portland Trail Blazer C.J. McCollum scored 30 for Lehigh in that game. Phoenix Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby is also a Lehigh alum.
Wild card: Tim Kempton likes to pose with flowers, I guess.
Wild card II: Jan Grzelinski made all four shots he took on Saturday. Unfortunately for him, he needed one more basket to qualify for ESPN’s list of field goal percentage leaders.
Following up: After losing to Canisius on Saturday, Vermont beat expected MAAC title contender Siena on Monday, 84-76. Go figure.
How to follow the game: There may be video from the Patriot League. Jay Moran has the call on 102.9 FM/1230 AM. I’ll have updates on Twitter and a blog after the game. Tweet with #Griffs to join the discussion.Follow @NickVeronica