WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Tom Housenick, who covers Lehigh men’s basketball for The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa.
Wyoming (19-13) hosts Lehigh (21-9) in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational at 7 tonight in Laramie.
Question: Do you think Lehigh is excited to play in the CBI, or was there a big letdown that the team didn’t get into the NIT or not make the NCAA Tournament?
Answer: If Lehigh had to make a decision about going to the CBI right after losing to rival Lafayette for a third time this season, it certainly would have passed. They sat on it at their respective homes on spring break for a few days and seem to be rejuvenated. How they feel, ultimately, will come out when the Mountain Hawks fall behind Tuesday night two time zones from home.
Q: How much did the team change when senior guard C.J. McCollum went out with a broken foot in January?
A: What changed the most is the way in which it attacks offensively. It has gone from a fluid, high-efficiency system to one that breaks down into a lot of one-on-one action. McCollum also could turn momentum all by himself at either end of the floor. Lehigh misses that.
Q: Is there any chance McCollum plays at Wyoming?
A: None. He played his last college game on Jan. 5 at VCU.
Q: What are the keys of the game for Lehigh, and do you think the long travel to Wyoming will affect the team?
A: Lehigh’s defensive intensity comes and goes within games. If the Mountain Hawks play with effort and energy for close to 40 minutes on that end of the floor, they’ll be successful. That includes rebounding, one of the weak points all season. Travel won’t be an issue, but the elevation change will be because they lack depth and have used the bench with less frequency the last month or so.
Q: How do you see this game unfolding? Who wins and why?
A: I like Wyoming because it plays at a slower pace, something that can frustrate Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks will fall behind in the second half and run out of steam and defensive focus.