‘Survive and advance’ mentality for men’s basketball

Playoffs began on Tuesday Feb. 25 for the men’s basketball team, but really, the “playoff-type atmosphere,” head coach Steve Minton said, began much earlier, as early as the final regular-season week. While the Knights opened the week with a loss to SUNY Cortland on Feb. 18, they didn’t stumble over the loss. Instead, Geneseo swept SUNY Oneonta and SUNY New Paltz on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22, respectively, and secured the third seed going into the conference championship tournament.

The Knights faced the Oneonta Red Dragons on Tuesday Feb. 25 for the quarterfinals, their second meeting in less than a week. Previously, Geneseo won 68-63.

Even before that game, though, Minton was already looking toward the semifinal game.

“Our advanced scouting is more toward [SUNY] Plattsburgh and really [getting] things ready for Saturday, as we find out if we’re going to get there,” he said, in an interview on Tuesday.

The preparation paid off as Geneseo took down Oneonta, 79-67, Tuesday night to advance to the semifinal matchup against No. 1 seed Plattsburgh, set for Friday Feb. 28. Victory over Oneonta allows Geneseo to continue in the playoffs. The semifinal game is set for Friday Feb. 28 against Plattsburgh at No. 1 seed SUNY Brockport.

Unlike other sports, such as hockey, the men’s basketball playoffs span over one week, but as Minton said, “It’s easy because it is bam, bam, bam. It’s not as if there’s a break and you got to regroup and get back in there.”

Senior guard Connor Fedge was the star in the quarterfinal game against Oneonta with a game-high 22 points and four steals. Senior forwards Jordan Jones and Matt Curry added 14 and 12 points, respectively, with additional offensive support from senior guard Thomas Decker who had eight assists in the win.

Junior forward Gordon Lyons took the backseat for this game and scored four points – his third game without tallying double digits. Lyons also grabbed eight rebounds.

As the postseason continues, Minton said he thinks the four graduating student-athletes understand how close a conference title and NCAA bid really are.

These four seniors have been fortunate enough to see improvements each season of their college career. Prior to their arrival on campus, it was never a guarantee that the team would make the SUNYAC tournament. Now, making it in three consecutive years, it has become the expectation.

For these graduating seniors, it’s their last chance to bring home a SUNYAC title.

“Our guys understand that right now one loss could mean the end of the season and it’s survive and advance,” Minton added. “And I don’t think there’s anything that can be said or done to distract them from that.”