The Geneseo men's basketball team had two successful wins last weekend, dispatching the New Paltz Hawks 70-60 and outlasting the Oneonta Red Dragons 79-77. [Editor's note: the Blue Knights also defeated Brockport on Tuesday, 62-61.]
Friday night's showdown with the Hawks was an improvement for Geneseo; a mere three weeks earlier, New Paltz demolished the Knights by 27.
Blue Knights coach Steve Minton believes the reason for this turnaround is simple: scoring depth.
Although local celebrity senior Scott Morton continues to excel, Minton said that Geneseo "needs several players to step it up" - and that is exactly what happened last Friday against New Paltz.
Junior Brandon Simpson dropped 14 points to go with six rebounds and five assists, while senior Jeff Howe continued his strong play with 14 points and nine boards.
Combine their efforts with Morton's 31 points, nine boards and five assists, and Geneseo ended up with a 37-point turnaround from the last time these two teams clashed.
While New Paltz's lineup may have been handicapped (starter Shereef Taylor and role player Shalik Jenkins failed to appear in this game after combining for 28 points in the first meeting), Geneseo acquired a much-needed victory to improve to 11-6 (5-3) on the season.
The Blue Knights returned to the court the following day without any signs of fatigue and promptly jumped out to a 12-point halftime lead against the Oneonta Red Dragons.
A thrilling second-half ensued, culminating in a last-second three-point attempt by Oneonta to win the game. The ball ricocheted off the rim, the buzzer sounded, and Geneseo improved to 12-6 (6-3) for the year.
Against Oneonta, the Blue Knights continued to flex their newfound depth with four players in double figures.
Morton led all scorers with 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Howe contributed 17 points and four rebounds, while Simpson and freshman Mike Hoy both reached double figures with 11 and 12 points, respectively.
With the season winding down, Geneseo hopes to continue their strong play. Minton said the key to continuing their success is taking the remaining games one at a time.
"We have to stay focused on what has been working for us and not have any letdowns. Every game is so important in the league. We are also going to [need] some people to step up and play above their comfort level," said Minton.
This past weekend the Blue Knights responded to Minton's challenge. If players like Simpson and Hoy can transform from role players into key players and consistently join Morton and Howe in the double figure column, the Blue Knights have a reason to be excited this season and beyond.