The Geneseo men's basketball team prepared for the start of the regular season by playing a scrimmage against Ithaca College on Sunday Nov. 1, losing 111-96.
Junior guards John Decker and Justin Ringen led the way for the Knights with 26 and 24 points respectively in what was a fast-paced, perimeter-oriented game. The team's offense in the upcoming season may come to be defined by the quick pace and three-point shooting that was on display at this scrimmage, but the defense is another story.
"We've obviously got to work on some things defensively,” head coach Steve Minton said. "I thought there were some situations where when we were good defensively and created some turnovers, we didn't capitalize. We have to work on decision-making. We talk about two 'E’s: effort and execution. I thought our effort was pretty good and our effort has been good since we began practice, but some of the execution isn't quite what we want."
The Knights allowed 111 points to Ithaca mainly because of the opposition's stellar spacing and three-point shooting.
"They like to drive and kick," Minton said. "When you play against teams like that, you've got to help and you really have to close out. Both of those things were a little shaky—the closeouts particularly. Ithaca shot a very high percentage from three."
The Knights also focused their offense on three-point shooting and did so efficiently, but the team's spacing and ball movement remain points of emphasis going forward.
"We had some difficulties with our spacing,” Minton said. "It got crowded and it was almost like watching little kids playing soccer when they're 10 or 11 years old with everyone running to the ball. We spent some time working on that in the past couple of days and I think we've seen a lot of improvement."
Minton also added that extra pump fakes and passes to find the open man are critical—and not only so that the offense can spot up for more threes. He expects to see the players routinely penetrate the defense and to focus on getting to the foul line. Against Ithaca, the Knights had more free-throw attempts than the Bombers.
"If you're going to shoot 70 percent from the foul line and get two shots each time, that's 1.4 points per possession, which is pretty high," Minton said.
On a team that is more focused on outside shooting, senior forward Nick Fessenden brought a strong inside presence to the game on both ends of the court. Fessenden finished with 16 points and a couple of blocked shots.
"Nick [Fessenden] played very well," Minton said. "I was really pleased with how well he ran the floor and I thought he defended the inside well. He just got a couple of tough fouls called against him."
The Knights proved that they can score—typically 96 points in a 40-minute game is enough to come away with a win. But in order to remain in contention for a top spot in the conference, the Knights will have to improve on the defensive end. According to Minton, the team's lack of transition defense was perhaps the biggest takeaway from the scrimmage.
"If you're letting a team get ahead of you and they're getting 4-on-3s and 3-on-2s, that's a problem," he said.
Geneseo opens its season on the road against Medaille College on Nov. 14.