Kevin Cassese has been running the show in Bethlehem since the 2008 season and the national team assistant has pulled the Mountain Hawks squarely within the scope of the nation's top third of teams:
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Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
March 17: Denver
Playing an eight-game Patriot League regular season conference schedule creates issues in terms of nonconference scheduling. The volume of mandatory league dates is obviously the most prominent problem associated with putting together a slate, but there's a subtler issue at play: How much out-of-conference strength can/should a team put on its schedule given the pockets of power residing in the Patriot League? Rather than loading up its seven nonconference openings with nuclear power, the Mountain Hawks took a measured approach, swapping out their date with Yale from a season ago with Denver, the presumed preseason number one, and buttressing that game with a series of solid out-of-conference dates -- a trip to Villanova, a home meeting with Princeton, etc. -- that provides even value throughout the entirety of the slate.
The Mountain Hawks' schedule remains focused on the Patriot League, and there is an important residue of that: It ensures that the machine can create a sustained level of combustion.
Seven in Three
March 7: Bucknell; March 10: at Villanova; March 14: at Navy; March 17: Denver; March 21: Army; March 24: at Monmouth; March 28: at Holy Cross
The back-end of this stretch in Lehigh's schedule isn't imposing, but the Hawks will still play seven games in just 22 days, averaging a game every three days. It will be an incredibly busy March for Lehigh, one where the program will face half of its Patriot League rivals as well as important nonconference opponents in Villanova and Denver. The Mountain Hawks will need to maintain fresh legs and laser-sharp focus to push through this gauntlet, attempting to remain in a solid position both in the Patriot League and the national hierarchy before the calendar flips to April and everything starts to accelerate to blinding speed.
Take Your Vitamins
February 7: Marquette; February 14: at Furman; February 21: Boston University
There are two focuses here in these three games: Stay healthy and take care of business. Lehigh has started at least 3-0 just once in the last five seasons, and even though the team's first three opponents in 2015 aren't sexy names that will define the Hawks' ceiling, the team's early slate still provides the opportunity to get things started on the right foot before traveling to Baltimore to face Loyola.