With the middle of November upon us, basketball season is starting up. Players, fans and coaches alike are eager to see what the Geneseo Knights can do on the court this year.
“I’m always excited to play some basketball,” men’s head coach Steve Minton said. “We’ve been practicing for a month, seeing the same faces every day and it’s time for us to get out and test the waters against some competition.”
Junior guard Christian “CJ” Burke shared Minton’s enthusiasm.
“The thing that I am most looking forward to is getting to play in Schrader in front of our fans again,” Burke said. “There is nothing better than getting a big win in front of our friends, family and fellow students.”
The team finished just over .500 last season, winning 14 of their 26 games. This performance was disappointing to many, but the team believes they can show more positive results this year.
“I absolutely think we can do better this season,” Minton said. “I think our overall personnel is deeper, and we have a little bit more versatility in every spot. I like our sophomore class a lot, and now that they’ve moved up from being freshmen, they’ll have more opportunities.”
“Last year we had a good team led by some unbelievably talented seniors,” Burke said. “The challenge this year will be making sure our returners, incoming freshmen and new transfers are all on the same page so that we can do well again and make a deep run into the playoffs.”
“We did lose two 1,000 point scorers from last year, but their graduation actually made us deeper,” Minton said. “Now people who didn’t have a chance before can step up to the plate.”
The team has been working strenuously this preseason to get everything shipshape before games roll around.
“We’ve been trying to improve ourselves defensively a great deal. That was an area we lacked a little last year,” Minton said. “Mainly, we’re focusing on finishing each defensive play with a rebound. Offensively, we’re trying out some new stuff as well. So far, we’ve made great improvements.”
The stats back up Minton’s claim—the team struggled to pick up boards against their opponents last year and lost nearly every game in which they were outrebounded defensively.
Like any other sport, team chemistry for the Knights is one of the main focuses each season. Over time the program has evolved to have a team mindset rather than an individual one, according to Minton.
“Team chemistry is always a big deal,” Minton said. “Just the other day, the other coaches and I were talking about the value of different players, and I think every single guy on the team has a tremendous amount of value to add.”
The lack of selfishness among the players is a significant factor that Minton observes in his team.
“This group has a ‘we’ intent. They don’t care about themselves and their stats, they want what they’re doing to be a part of a bigger success. We’ve always had guys get along well with no ego problems,” Minton said.
The team will travel to Arlington, Va. to kick off the season in the Pablo Coto Tip-Off Tournament Saturday Nov. 18. If they win, they will stay in Arlington for another game on Sunday Nov 19. The team will then host the SUNY Morrisville Mustangs on Tuesday Nov. 21.