Men's basketball hot going into winter break

The Geneseo men's basketball team recently finished off their fall semester with a third place finish in the Wendy's College Classic Tournament from Dec. 2–Saturday Dec. 5 after defeating Nazareth College 83-81, losing to Roberts Wesleyan College 85-82 and prevailing over the Rochester Institute of Technology 91-80 in the third-place game.

Junior guard Justin Ringen was a first-team all-tournament selection after averaging 27 points and seven rebounds per game for the three matches. He also made the game-winning shot against Nazareth, hitting a three with 2.9 seconds left on the clock.

“He is an amazing shooter and a guy who can just get going," head coach Steve Minton said. “Against Nazareth, he was 7-of-8 from three, which is pretty unheard of. That's just crazy good. But he scores in so many different ways—we can post him up, he can drive to the basket or he can shoot threes.”

Heading into 2016, the Knights are 6-1 and have been dominant throughout the opening stretch of the season. Minton's team is operating at an above average pace, scoring 86.1 points per game on 47.6 percent shooting from the field and an impressive 44.9 percent shooting from three-point range. Ringen alone has shot 27-of-48 from behind the arc—56.3 percent.

The Knights' record so far doesn't mean much for the playoff picture since the only conference opponent they’ve faced—SUNY Morrisville—is just an affiliate member of the SUNYAC. The team's success has been dependent on the play of several key players. One such player is sophomore point guard Charlie Zaepfel, who is averaging a team-high 5.9 assists and only 2.1 turnovers per game.

“Charlie [Zaepfel] has a knack for finding the right guys in transition. What he does better than anyone else we've got is get deep into the paint,” Minton said. “At that point, he's got a big to dump the ball off to or some three-point shooters with Ringen, [sophomore guard Kevin] Crockett and [junior guard John] Decker that he can find.”

A lot of the Knights' offensive success in recent games—particularly against RIT—has been through the use of quick sets. The team practices running quick sets in a half-court offense to get off a fast shot, usually with two options. One option is perimeter-oriented and is usually focused on a shooter such as Decker, Crockett or Ringen, while the other option can be a post-up involving either Ringen or senior forward Nick Fessenden.

“Nick [Fessenden] has shot the ball very well. I think he was 8-of-12 in our last game,” Minton said. “A lot of that came from penetration and dumping it off. He also got some rebounds and put-backs as well, but I think the guards have done a good job of finding him when they've penetrated.”

As the Knights move forward in preparation for the spring semester conference games, they will continue to practice those quick offensive sets while ramping up efforts on defense and the boards.

“I think the things we're going to try to fine tune are the quick sets that we run—which is mostly about timing and screening—and also defense and rebounding,” Minton said.

The team's first game of 2016 will be at home against SUNY Fredonia on Jan. 5.