The Geneseo men's basketball team opened its regular season with an 89-85 victory at Medaille College on Saturday Nov. 14. Junior guard John Decker led the way with 34 points and 10 rebounds while junior guard Justin Ringen contributed 22 points. Of the team's 89 points, 85 came from the starting rotation.
"It's obviously a good start to get off to, especially on the road," head coach Steve Minton said. "We weren't without our transgressions defensively and we obviously turned the ball over way too much, and you're not going to beat too many teams doing that. That—along with some defensive transition—will continue to be major points of emphasis moving forward this week."
Decker was the Knights' undisputed leader against Medaille, scoring 34 points in 38 minutes on 9-of-20 shooting from the field. Decker is a transfer student from Dominican College where he played Division II basketball. He appeared in 27 games for Dominican during the 2014-15 season and averaged 7.9 points per game. Decker's performance against Medaille does not come as a surprise—he was dominant in the team's two preseason scrimmages as well.
"It was hard for me to—at any point—justify taking him off the court," Minton said.
The Knights scraped by with a victory despite committing 23 turnovers compared to Medaille's 10. Leading scorers Decker and Ringen combined for 14 of those turnovers.
"They're both great players, but they tried to force the issue a bit too much," Minton said. "With Justin [Ringen], we'll talk about his ball handling and trying to take on too much responsibility there. With John [Decker], he played a lot of minutes and got pretty tired. I'm not too concerned."
Although the Knights are a relatively small, perimeter-oriented team, they won their first game largely through rebounding and getting to the free-throw line. Geneseo outrebounded Medaille 51-33 and shot 22 more free throws than its opponent.
"We really did a good job—[sophomore guard] Charlie [Zaepfel] and John [Decker] in particular—of attacking the basket," Minton said. "We had some transition opportunities that led to fouls. We want to attack the basket and see what's there and, if there's nothing, hopefully find someone on the perimeter to kick it out to."
The rebounding came largely from the bench, as 6-foot-7 senior forward Nick Fessenden and 6-foot-6 freshman forward Jack Manke combined for 14 rebounds in just 26 minutes of playing time.
"It was very encouraging," Minton said. "I watched the film and I think a lot of those rebounding opportunities for us came from our perimeter guys doing an outstanding job of blocking out. They weren't necessarily the ones to secure those rebounds, but keeping their man from getting in there allowed Nick [Fessenden] and Jack [Manke] and Justin [Ringen] and John [Decker] to grab rebounds."
One potential point of concern is that the bench only contributed four points in the victory. Minton noted that he remains positive, however, that members of the second unit will have the opportunity to step up in the future as the team searches for a consistent scoring punch off the bench.
"Some guys who would normally get some minutes there lost out," he said. "I think there will be more bench minutes moving forward and there are a couple of guys that could step up."
The Knights' next game will be on Friday Nov. 20 against Alfred State College in the first round of the Laurel Line Tournament in Pennsylvania.