From left, Lehigh University basketball players Dave Buchberger, Matt Shamis, Zahir Carrington and John Adams celebrate with teammates as they hear their school named as the opponent for No. 1 seed Kansas on Sunday in Bethlehem, Pa. AP Photo
Touting people like his senior guard, Marquis Hall, an anthropology/sociology major and the Patriot League scholar-athlete of the year, and traits like intestinal fortitude.
"The combination of character and talent often can lead to special results,” Reed said.
"For a special moment like that to occur, we need to play with a great deal of confidence and belief. We all need to be unified and galvanized to face adversity. We’ll have to play exceptional basketball collectively.”
What he means is that Lehigh must play the game of its life and Kansas has to pull a clunker. And then, maybe prayer could get the Mountain Hawks over the hump.
For all the Bucknell/Lehigh karma, a couple of things should be settled. Lehigh isn’t Bucknell, and this Kansas isn’t that Kansas.
These Mountain Hawks are a solid Patriot League champion, going 22-10 overall, 10-4 in conference play and winning every Patriot Tournament game by double digits. But that Bucknell team won at Pittsburgh earlier that season; the game after upsetting Kansas, Bucknell took Wisconsin deep into the second half before losing. And the next year, rewarded with a 9 seed, Bucknell knocked off Arkansas 59-55 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"We had a little more swagger than most Patriot League teams have,” Goodman said.
And while the 2005 Jayhawks were talented, with Simien, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles, they had a fatal flaw. They couldn’t shoot. Bucknell’s base defense was a funky, matchup zone which dared the Jayhawks to launch 3-pointers, and the strategy paid off.
"I don’t think you could do that to this Kansas team,” Goodman said. "Little different animal.”
Goodman has been gone four years from Bucknell but still follows the Patriot League; pulls for the Patriots, too, so long as it’s not Lehigh, Bucknell’s arch-rival.
"Not sure I could ever root for a Mountain Hawk,” Goodman said.
But most everyone outside Kansas will be a Lehigh fan Thursday night. They will cheer for the Patriot League, which has its priorities in order, and they will cheer for history. They will cheer to see Marquis Hall or one of his fellow scholar-athletes sling a shot that fells Goliath.
Reed told his Mountain Hawks it will happen. Some 16 will beat some No. 1 some day. "Why not us?” he asked them. "Why not now?”
405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.