GREENSBORO – Lehigh will play in its second NCAA Tournament game in three years Friday night when the Mountain Hawks face Duke.
Coach Brett Reed and his players say this time around, the second time for many of the Mountain Hawks, will be different than their first-round lost to Kansas in 2010. That isn’t to say Lehigh doesn’t respect Duke. The Mountain Hawks spoke highly of the Blue Devils. But much like UNC-Asheville tested Syracuse today, Reed expects his Mountain Hawks to play with no fear.
“I think it’s important to respect the amount of history Duke has,” Reed said. “It’s also important to respect the amount of success they’ve had this season. However, we’re not playing against Christian Laettner or Grant Hill. I think we’re a pretty good team.”
The Mountain Hawks tested themselves early this season by playing 12 of their first 15 games on the road. Michigan State and Iowa State, both in the field of 68, were some of the opponents.
“We feel we can play with anyone in the country,” Lehigh forward Jordan Hamilton said.
Reed knows a large portion of the crowd Friday will be rooting for Duke, as the Blue Devils’ campus is 55 miles away.
With challenging games on the road and a subpar performance in the tournament two years ago, Leigh says it has all the preparation and motivation it needs.
“We’re more mature,” guard C.J. McCollum said. “We’ve been through a lot and we know what to expect, what we’re getting ourselves into.”
Reed knew exactly what he was going to say in his opening statement to the media Thursday when he stepped up to the interview platform.
“I think confidence can really translate into making this tournament as special as it is,” Reed said. “The script hasn’t been written. The joy of this thing is that anything can happen. I think we need to just draw from positive energy.”