Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2002
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LESKO NAMED PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Mark Lesko Senior Mark Lesko of the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team has been named player of the year by the Centennial Conference.

Lesko, also a unanimous selection to the All-CC first team, has had a remarkable all-around season, ranking first or second in the league in five statistical categories. He leads the CC in scoring (19.4 points per game), field-goal percentage (.612) and blocked shots (55) while placing second in rebounding (9.7 per game) and free-throw percentage (.776). Lesko also is 11th with 39 steals.

The 6-8 forward is only the second player in CC history to earn first-team honors three straight years, and he is the first Mule to be named CC player of the year. The last Muhlenberg hoopster to be named conference player of the year was Reinout Brugman in the MAC Southwest in 1986.

Lesko also ranks high on the CC’s career lists. He is eighth in CC history in points scored (1,389), fourth in rebounds (737), third in blocked shots (165) and second in field-goal percentage (.579). At Muhlenberg, Lesko is the all-time leader in blocked shots and ranks eighth in scoring.

For the third straight year, Lesko was the only Mule player on the All-CC team. Muhlenberg is the only school to have at least one player make the All-CC first team in all nine years of the league's existence.

Lesko has led the Mules to a 19-5 record, their best in the regular season in 16 years, and the CC East Division championship. Muhlenberg will host a conference playoff game tomorrow night against defending champion Gettysburg.

Basketball Playoff Previews

The Muhlenberg basketball teams will host a doubleheader tomorrow in the semifinals of the Centennial Conference playoffs. The women, ranked 17th in this week’s d3hoops.com poll, tip off the doubleheader by playing Western Maryland at 6:00, followed by the men against Gettysburg in a rematch of last year’s CC championship game. Below are previews of the two games by Mule seniors Jenn Risley and Michael Barletta.

WOMEN

Jenn Risley How do you feel about the way the season has gone so far?
We are very pleased with our 21-3 record because after three years of being around 15-10, who would have thought it? Having a new coach this year it could have gone either way and we are very happy with Coach Rohn.

What do you remember most about the first game this year with Western Maryland?
We lost at the buzzer [83-82 in overtime] and it was my girl that hit the game-winning shot, so I would like to redeem myself.

What will be the key for Muhlenberg to win?
The key for us to win would be our run and jump defense, because it causes a lot of confusion.

What worries you the most about this team?
Western Maryland has a psychological edge because they beat us at their place so we want to redeem ourselves and play with confidence.

How are the playoff games different from the regular-season games?
This is a do-or-die situation for Lindsay [fellow senior Lindsay St. Lawrence] and I so we especially are going to be ready to play.

Are you motivated by the fact that you’re a senior and this could be your last game?
Definitely. It would be the perfect ending to our careers going out with a championship.

How much will the homecourt advantage mean? It’s big for every team but wherever we play we always play with confidence.

MEN

Michael Barletta How do you feel about the way the season has gone so far?
We have had some disappointing losses this year but overall we are satisfied with our play going in to the postseason.

What do you remember most about the first game this year with Gettysburg?
Gettysburg beat us in the championship last year so we wanted to come out and play hard and show them that we were ready to play. It was a tough game [Muhlenberg won, 70-62]. We know their personnel very well, so I am anticipating another good game.

What will be the key for Muhlenberg to win?
The key for us would have to be getting Mark Lesko as many touches as possible. He is going to be constantly double- and triple-teamed so it is important for us to have an in-and-out offense.

What worries you the most about this team?
Their offense is very effective and all five players on the court can shoot the three very well. We have to close out on their shooters and play tough defense.

How are the playoff games different from the regular-season games?
The intensity picks up a lot. We do not want our careers ending without a championship so every team is coming out ready to play.

Are you motivated by the fact that you’re a senior and this could be your last game?
Seeing Gettysburg cutting down the nets on our home floor last year was an experience that I do not want my college career to end with.

How much will the home court advantage mean?
We feel that no one can beat us on our floor so the confidence level is very high; all we have to do is go out and execute on both ends of the floor.


Questions or comments? Send mail to falk@muhlenberg.edu
Last updated February 19, 2002