The Geneseo men's basketball team saw its season come to an end on Tuesday Feb. 23, losing 75-59 to SUNY Oswego in the quarterfinals of the SUNYAC Tournament. They ended the season with a 17-9 record.
Junior guard Justin Ringen led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds, but the Oswego Lakers were propelled to victory by a huge second-half push. They outscored the Knights 47-26 in the second half and at one point went on a 21-0 run.
“In the second half, some of our effort just wasn't there,” Ringen said. “Obviously it mattered that [junior guard John] Decker wasn’t there, and we didn’t have [junior forward] Nick [Fessenden] or [sophomore guard Charlie] Zaepfel. We were sticking with the game plan, but our effort wasn't there.”
Decker is the Knights second-leading scorer this season, averaging 18.8 points per game. Decker suffered a lower leg injury in practice the night before the team took on Oswego, keeping him from playing the game. Fessenden and Zaepfel have both been out for a while, a huge negative considering they were in the starting lineup to start the season. Without these three players, the pressure mounted for the rest of the roster.
“It puts a lot of pressure on me, but also the other guys who have to step up and replace [Decker],” Ringen said. “Guys like [sophomore guard Kevin] Crockett, [senior guard Connor] Keenan. It’s me, but it’s also the whole team that has to step up.”
Before the game, head coach Steve Minton emphasized the importance of stopping Oswego junior guard Brian Sortino, who is averaging 19.8 points per game. Sortino played all 40 minutes and finished with 23 points and five assists.
“Sortino, I think, is probably the best player in the league,” Minton said. “We'll find that out in a week when the voting gets done. He was a first-team All-Conference player last year and he always plays well against us.”
One positive to take away from the season is that most of the team will be back come next year. The three top scorers—Ringen, Decker and Crockett—will all be back. Those three alone combined for 50.8 points per game. The Knights were a young group this season and should come back more experienced next year.
“Freshman guard CJ Burke has been playing a lot more in the second half of the year and he's going to have to step up next season,” Ringen said. "We have a young team and a lot of guys got minutes off the bench, so it's good looking forward to next year because we'll have a lot of guys with some experience already."
On the other hand, there are a few veterans who are expected to graduate. Keenan started all 26 games, while senior guard Kevin Zabransky appeared in 21 games and played a pivotal role off the bench. For those who won't be back to make another playoff push, Ringen had a message to give.
“For having a team full of young guys and guys who are new to the program, thank you for making the transition smooth and easy for us and for showing us the way and making the season as successful as it was,” he said. “We couldn't have done it without them.”