Men's basketball season ends short of expectations, two graduate

The men’s basketball season ended with the Knights falling to SUNY Oswego in the first round of the SUNYAC Tournament.

Overall, the season was filled with many twists and turns. At one point, the Knights gained momentum—winning eight out of nine games between from Jan. 9–Feb. 2—but the momentum halted at the end of the season, as the team finished the year 4-4 before their loss to Oswego.

Injuries didn’t help. The Knights were without starting sophomore point guard Charlie Zaepfel for the second half of the season and the team's second-leading scorer junior guard John Decker suffered an injury in practice the night before the SUNYAC quarterfinals.

“Injuries are part of the game and you've got to have contingencies for those,” head coach Steve Minton said. “While it might be a factor here or there, you certainly can't use them as an excuse because you've got to build a program with the depth at different positions to be able to handle them.”

Though the season didn't end quite the way Geneseo expected, there is plenty of hope for the future. Senior guards Connor Keenan and Kevin Zabransky will graduate, but every other key player is expected to be back. That includes leading scorers junior guard Justin Ringen, Decker and sophomore guard Kevin Crockett. Both Ringen and Decker are likely to be awarded All-Conference honors.

“I certainly feel very good about having a good core of our players back,” Minton said. “I'll feel a little bit better in a week or a month when some recruiting things are done and I can really start to put pieces of the puzzle together.”

The Knights will retain much of their shooting skill, but they undoubtedly have areas to work on both through internal development as well as through recruiting. For instance, Minton stressed the importance of adding another point guard in the event of injuries. He also wants more face-up-style forwards.

“We need some more players with the size of a Justin Ringen that can play facing the basket,” Minton said.

Finally, center is perhaps the biggest position to improve in. The Knights finished the year eighth in the conference in offensive rebounding and fourth in defensive rebounding. They also finished seventh in blocked shots.

“Somebody has got to come and give that position some stability and consistency,” Minton said.

Even with retaining the majority of players, Minton explained that the team will undoubtedly miss Keenan and Zabransky for the 2016-2017 season. Keenan started 26 games and averaged 4.4 points per game while Zabransky appeared in 21 games off the bench and scored 2.7 points per game. Minton expressed his pride in their unwavering commitment to the team.

“It's very difficult in any sport to stick it out and play it for four years,” he said. “Every graduating class looks back on the number of guys who tried out and the number of guys who maybe made the team as freshmen players but didn't make it as sophomores, or the guys who chose to leave on their own because of tough academics.”