LeBron James aging impacts career

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers scores against Paul George of the Indiana Pacers during the second half of Game 3 in the National Basketball Assocation playoff series. The Pacers fell 119-114 to Cleveland on Thursday April 20. (Darron Cummings/AP Photo)

We have all witnessed the highs and lows of LeBron James’ career after he entered the National Basketball Association in 2003, when he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers.  

If we’ve ever seen a low point in James’ career—on the court—it was in his first year with the Miami Heat in 2010, or in the Eastern Conference finals, when James and the Heat faced off against the Boston Celtics in game five. 

The inhuman prodigy in his athletic prime, who averaged over 25 points per game that season, made only three shots in game five, as the Celtics would go on to cruise to a 120-88 victory in 2010. The Heat would continue on to defeat the Celtics and eventually lose to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the NBA finals.

Speculation after these playoffs occurred due to the supernatural expectations of James, especially now that he was on this ‘super team.’  Was there an injury that we did not know about or some off the court distraction that James had endured? What if there was an easier explanation? What if James was just tired? 

The man who basically made the Cavalier organization relevant again, taking them to their first NBA finals in team history in 2006-07, may have just been tired. 

The fact was that after James chose to leave Cleveland, his own city, most of all of the sports world hated him. That would take a lot out of most people, but he dealt with it, going on to win two NBA championships with the Heat and once with the Cavs.  

And as the King gets older, currently at age 32, we have to ask the question again: does he have enough left in the tank? 

The Cavs bragged earlier this season about having a cutting-edge system that put players into various categories of fatigue, which we should believe was mainly for James.  It was supposed to be a way to manage his minutes and to keep him healthy so that come playoff time, he would be ready.

But as the Cavs dwindled in the East, James did everything but rest. Losing 15 of their last 26 regular season games, the team was on edge. By the end of the season, James led the NBA in minutes per game, the opposite of Cleveland’s stated goals. Not only does he play a high number of minutes, but also when he’s out there, it’s arguable that no team relies more on a player than the Cavs depend on James. The Cavs win with James and they lose with James.

Sure, they have Kyrie Irving, who is inevitably one of the best—if not the best—point guard in the NBA. They have knock-down shooters on the wing with Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith. And then they have Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson working low on the boards, both being able to step out of the perimeter and to knock down jumpers. 

When push comes to shove, if James doesn’t show up, the Cavs might be able to win a few games, but it is very unlikely that they will be able to win another NBA championship.

Women’s basketball earns “Together We R” award

It was a record-breaking season for the Geneseo women’s basketball program, and it was recently capped off with a much-deserved team award.  

The team was honored with the “Together We R” award, given out by Russell Athletic and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. The award is given out to a team that overcomes unforeseen barriers during the current season and finishes the year with accomplishments that exceed expectations.  

The team must exemplify strong commitment to core values of togetherness, courage, unparalleled work ethic and heart, and must personify the “Together We R” belief that teams are stronger than individuals.  

“The determination and perseverance the players, coaches and families showed is a perfect demonstration of what we can endure when working together as a team,” said Russell Athletic Vice President of Marketing Matt Murphy.  

The “Together We R” award is a national honor—any team in any division is eligible to receive it. The Knights share the honor with the Northwestern University’s women’s basketball program. This is the second time in just 11 months that the Geneseo women’s basketball program has received this award.  

“Everyone associated with these programs came together to ensure they had the support needed to continue,” Murphy said. “Russell Athletic is proud to recognize SUNY Geneseo and Northwestern University with the ‘Together We R Award.’”

In terms of wins, the program saw its best season in school history. The Knights finished 25-0 in the regular season and earned a No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC Tournament.  

The girls went on to lose a hard-fought battle in the SUNYAC championship game to SUNY New Paltz, 58-57.

The Knights bounced back in the NCAA Tournament, beating Muhlenberg College in the first round, 65-53, and then beating the University of Rochester in the second round, 78-72. The Knights reached their second sweet 16 berth in three years before falling to Ohio Northern University, 72-55.

The women earned their highest national ranking in 20 years at the end of the year. The Knights were selected 13 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association NCAA Division III Top 25 and 14 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 poll.

Their previous best was in the 1994-95 season when they finished 15 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and 16 in the D3hoops.com Top 25.  

Head coach Scott Hemer, who just finished his 10th season as the Knights’ head coach, led the Knights. The two-time SUNYAC coach of the year was also named the Rochester Area Coach of the Year. 

“Scott Hemer and Joe McKeown [Northwestern’s head coach] have demonstrated exemplary leadership … Scott and Joe’s commitment to their student-athletes and their families are a testament to the power of their calling as coaches,” WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew said.

On top of that, senior guards Kara Houppert and Katie Durand earned first-team selections on the Rochester Chapter of the United States Basketball Writers’ Association Division II and III teams. Houppert was also selected as a D3hoops.com All-Region second teamer.  

The Knights hope to keep the momentum going as they look to next year and strive for another great season.

March Madness games keep fans on edge

Khalil Iverson, guard for the University of Wisconsin, practices with the rest of his team in Buffalo before their game against Virginia Tech on March 15. Wisconsin took an 84-76 victory over Virginia Tech, advancing in the tournament. (Michael P. King/AP Photo)

Khalil Iverson, guard for the University of Wisconsin, practices with the rest of his team in Buffalo before their game against Virginia Tech on March 15. Wisconsin took an 84-76 victory over Virginia Tech, advancing in the tournament. (Michael P. King/AP Photo)

The ides of March to the college basketball fan is analogous to Christmas morning. The tournament. The big dance. And so far, this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship has not disappointed. It’s given us heartbreak, thrills and plenty of bracket busting to go around. 

Playing the first two rounds at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, the East region may be the most surprising. After the Round of 32, No. 1 seed Villanova University and the No. 2 seed Duke University are both out. Defending champion Villanova lost in a dramatic fashion to the No. 8 seed University of Wisconsin. The University of South Carolina—coming out of the always-strong Southeastern Conference—worked Duke. Wins from the University of Florida and Baylor University as the No. 4 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, rounded out the Eastern region. 

Out of the West, the No. 1 seed, Gonzaga University, took down Northwestern University to end their first trip to the tournament. They will take on a strong West Virginia University in the Sweet Sixteen. No. 11 seed Xavier College upset No. 6 seed Maryland University and No. 3 seed Florida State University to prolong their unexpected tournament run to the Sweet Sixteen. University of Arizona, the No. 2 seed, defeated North Dakota State University and St. Mary’s College to round out the region. 

The seeding in the South region, however, turned out to be fairly accurate. The No. 1-4 seeds all made it out of the Round of 32. No. 3 seed University of California-Los Angeles and their explosive offense will face the No. 2 seed University of Kentucky. No. 1 seed University of North Carolina will face No. 4 Butler University. 

The University of Michigan Wolverines seem to be the sleeper out of the Midwest division. They upset No. 2 seed University of Louisville to face the No. 3 University of Oregon Ducks. No. 1 University of Kansas rolled over both the University of California-Davis and Michigan State University to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, where they will face No. 4 seed Purdue University. 

The Sweet Sixteen contains plenty of high seeded teams, as well as sleepers that arguably should have been seeded higher. The teams are dynamic and strong, from Wisconsin’s excellent defense to the explosive shooting of the Kentucky Wildcats. 

So yes, your bracket may be busted. Your team may be out, and you may have lost a little—or a lot—of money from your brackets. That, however, is the beauty of March Madness. 

Watching groundbreaking performances is pure entertainment. March Madness has been the stage for some of the most exciting moments in all of sports. We tune in because at any given moment, we could see a play that will be shown on ESPN for decades to come. 

These games offer something that is not normally seen in professional sports: they give us stories to follow that seem like they are straight off the big screen. This tournament has seen the first tournament berth of Northwestern University. It is the same stage where Christian Laettner made a name for himself. 

We are blessed with buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories and upsets. It is, without a doubt, the highlight of the college basketball season. March is when the players play. March is when hard work weighs more than talent. 

March is the culmination of it all.

Women’s basketball loses victory streak

Senior guard Katie Durand makes a pass up the court during a game against SUNY New Paltz. The women’s perfect record came to an end in a game against SUNY Cortland, however, the Knights will still be competing in the SUNYAC championship game which will be held at Geneseo. (Elizabeth Jacobs/Staff Photographer)

Despite having a perfect regular season and ranking within the top 20 nationally, SUNY Geneseo fell to the SUNY New Paltz Hawks 58-57 on Saturday Feb. 25 in the SUNYAC Tournament Championship Final. 

The Knights went into the championship having won against the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons in the semifinals the day before. In addition to having a better record, the Knights also had home field advantage. 

The game was eventful, though, as the two teams volleyed the lead back and forth; six times, to be exact. The Knights were down at the half 33-29 and managed to stay neck and neck with the Hawks for the next two quarters, but it wasn’t enough. 

A few questionable calls, a pinch of bad luck and the Knights were served their first loss. Like spike strips, the girls were abruptly stopped by the Hawks and denied the crown. 

“We were obviously pretty bummed because we thought we deserved to win,” sophomore forward McKenna Brooks said. 

The 6’1” Oswego native has emerged as a star over the past few weeks, putting up impressive numbers for the Knights. Brooks played for 22 minutes in the championship and managed to pick up 15 points on nine rebounds. 

One would expect a team to be down and unmotivated by a one-point loss in the championship game, especially after coming off a perfect regular season; but the team can push on through the loss, according to Brooks. 

“It didn’t really feel like we lost,” Brooks said. “We still feel like the same team.” 

Although the Knights may have fallen short in the SUNYAC Tournament, their season is not over. Since Geneseo had such an impressive regular season, they have qualified for the NCAA Tournament. 

Their first matchup will take place Friday March 3 at 7 p.m. at Geneseo. The Knights will host the Muhlenberg College Mules, a team the Knights have not faced this season. 

The Mules are a member of the Centennial Conference, which is slightly more competitive than the SUNYACs. Muhlenberg went 20-7 and managed to win the Centennial Conference Championship against the Gettysburg College Bullets 74-61.

Though the Knights have not played Muhlenberg, they will not allow that to be a disadvantage for them. The coaching staff and the team will be analyzing tapes in preparation for the game. 

If the Knights can defeat the Mules, they will either face the University of Rochester or Keene State College, which would also be played at home. With all of the home field advantages, the Knights hope to have an edge in the NCAA Tournament.

The Knights will tip off at 7 p.m. on Friday March 3 in the Kuhl Gym. 

Men’s basketball falls to Oneonta in SUNYACs

Senior guard Jonathan Cohen rushes past SUNY Cortland in search of an open teammate. The men advanced in the SUNYAC Tournament where they lost to SUNY Oneonta 89-73. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

The Geneseo men’s basketball team had an inconsistent weekend, claiming one win and one loss. The Knights played SUNY Oswego on Friday Feb. 17 and SUNY Cortland on Saturday Feb. 18. 

The Knights fell short to Oswego 80-75 and despite the short time between games, defeated Cortland 75-73 the next day. Oswego sits atop the division, while Cortland sits at the No. 4 seed in the division. 

In the Oswego game the Knights were only down by one, entering the half 35-34.  Oswego, however, opened the second half on a 26-12 run, which gave them their largest lead of the game at 14. The Knights fought back and chipped away for the entire game, cutting Oswego’s lead to five with 2:16 remaining, but the Knights comeback campaign was not enough after Oswego made four of six free throws down the line. 

The next day, however, was the game that the Knights were looking for. A victory over Cortland on Saturday gave the Knights the 6th and last spot in the SUNYAC Tournament.  

The Knights battled the entire game, squeaking out a two-point 75-73 triumph despite Cortland having a chance to win with a shot at the end of the game. Senior guard Justin Ringen netted a team high of 20 points, while junior guard Kevin Crockett scored the Knights last seven points to secure the victory. 

“We got a good win against a good Cortland team … it was a game that we had to win to get into the playoffs,” head coach Steve Minton said. “We’re obviously very thrilled about that and happy to get to be practicing yesterday and today.”  

While the Knights did shoot 50 percent from the field and hit 17 three-pointers—which was just one shy of their season high—it was the defense that Minton was most proud of.  

“We were better defensively than we have been in the last several games,” Minton said. “I was really happy with our defense, happy how we executed some new things that we put in this week.”

The Knights have had a fluctuating season overall. Going into the SUNYAC Tournament, they held a record of 14-11 and had the No. 6 seed in the conference and in the tournament.  

Out of their 11 losses, seven of those have come with a loss margin of six points or less, two of which have come from the hands of SUNY Oneonta—their opponent on Tuesday Feb. 21 in the first round of the SUNYAC Tournament.  

But despite all of the close losses, the Knights have remained optimistic and positive throughout the entire season. 

“We’ve got some pretty good leadership at the top—guys who are motivated and love to be able to compete,” Minton said. “I think our guys can appreciate where they were and what opportunities they had in each of those games.”

The Knights fell to Oneonta, however, on Tuesday Feb. 21, knocking them out of the SUNYAC Tournament and ending their season with an overall record of 14-12.  

Senior guards Ringen, John Decker, Jack Eisenberg and Jonathan Cohen played their final game and will be missed next season.  As the team looks forward to next season, key contributors like Crockett, freshman guard Tommy Eastman and sophomore guard CJ Burke look to build on this year’s 14-12 record.

Women’s basketball to host conference championship

Sophomore guard Kelsey Poplawski looks for an open teammate to pass to during a game against SUNY Plattsburgh. The Knights remain undefeated and hope to maintain this victory streak. (Keith Walters/Campus Photographer)

Geneseo women’s basketball has once again clinched the best record in the SUNYACs. Currently at 23-0, the Knights have locked down the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which will begin on Feb. 24.

The women are coming off a victorious weekend tour of the Catskills. Geneseo faced the SUNY Oneonta Red Dragons on Friday Feb. 10. The result was a 22nd consecutive win for the Knights as they defeated Oneonta 55-38. 

The biggest story of this game, however, was the emergence of sophomore forward McKenna Brooks. Oswego native Brooks put up 15 points the entire game and managed to get 10 rebounds, both of which led the team. 

On top of those stats, it must also be noted that Brooks played a total of 15 minutes, meaning she scored on average one point every minute. This game prompted Brooks to be given the title of SUNYAC Player of the Week.

Following the win in Oneonta, the Knights traveled farther east to face the SUNY New Paltz Hawks. The Knights hosted New Paltz earlier in the season and beat them 66-47. This game yielded a similar result, as the Knights picked up yet another win by a score of 56-39 on Saturday Feb. 11. 

Brooks once again took control against Oneonta, putting up a total of 16 points and 11 rebounds.

“We’ve been in the championship game the last six of seven years; it’s something that has become a bit of an expectation,” head coach Scott Hemer said. 

So the women’s basketball team clinched the No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC Tournament—what’s the big deal? Well, there are many. 

First, this means that Geneseo will be the host of the 2016-17 Conference Championship game no matter what two teams are competing for the championship. In other words, even if Geneseo does not make it to the championship, the game will still be hosted in Geneseo. 

Home field advantage is a major perk, too.  Assuming the women keep performing at the level they have thus far, there is a strong chance they will be hosting a tournament championship in front of their home crowd. 

Another major benefit of clinching the No. 1 seed is the fact that the Knights will receive a first round bye, which means that Geneseo will face either the No. 4, 5 or 6 seed in the tournament semifinals. This, too, will be held at the women’s home court.

Another exciting event the basketball team is in contention for is the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Knights are currently ranked No. 18 in the nation for women’s basketball. 

Although the Knights have a perfect season, they are in a very weak division for basketball, causing the NCAA to rank them lower than teams that have up to three losses. Despite the low ranking, however, the Knights could still see success on the national level.

Geneseo will finish out the regular season play against the SUNY Oswego Lakers at 7:30 p.m. on Friday Feb. 17 and will host the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons on Saturday Feb. 18 at 4 p.m.

Men’s basketball remains confident after losses

Geneseo men’s basketball lost 98-79 to SUNY Brockport on Friday Feb. 3. This marks the third consecutive loss for the Knights, and although the team knows the importance that the rest of the season brings, they are not discouraged. 

“We knew going up there that Brockport is a very physical team and very good defensively,” head coach Steve Minton said. 

Minton noted that the team played well for the majority of the first half, showing their opponent that they had a real match in Geneseo. Once they hit the four-minute mark though, the Knights fell into a lull and ended the half on the wrong end of a seven-point deficit. 

The Knights fell behind 10 points in the middle of the second half, but had a run, cutting the Brockport lead to two points thanks to three-pointers shot by senior guard Justin Ringen and sophomore guard C.J. Burke. Although the team did what they had been practicing—playing with a composed mind and not letting the physical nature of the other team bother them—there were missed opportunities characterized by a few missed open shots and foul shots. 

“At that point, we were battling the score and the clock,” Minton said. The last few minutes of play led to the outcome. 

This was not what the team was hoping for, as they were coming off back-to-back losses. With only four more regular season games, the Knights are keeping the past behind them and instead are focusing hard on how they can end the season on a high note. 

“Now practices are a lot more mental than physical: we can talk and watch more things and we don’t need to go out and execute them as much,” Minton said. 

The team has played all the SUNYAC opponents once already; as a result, the Knights can more easily look at film and can focus on what the other team is doing in addition to how the Knights should play to best combat their opponents. 

Geneseo takes to the road for back-to-back games against SUNY Oneonta on Friday Feb. 10 and SUNY New Paltz on Saturday Feb. 11. While having two games in one weekend does stimulate momentum, teams can often get lost in the “tendency to prepare more for the Friday game and watch a little film for Saturday,” according to Minton. 

The 12-9 Knights hope to play to their capabilities and to get out of their most recent slump. 

“With Oneonta, there are two main keys: we’re going to put focus on their point guard and their other best player,” Minton said. 

Geneseo lost its only other game to Oneonta early in the season. One player controls most of the distribution while the other controls most of the scoring, so keeping the ball out of Oneonta’s hands is an essential part of the Knight’s game plan.

“New Paltz is a very disciplined team where we have to sustain our defensive possessions for 30 seconds,” Minton said. 

New Paltz is more likely to hold their possession for the whole 30 seconds, while many other teams will take a shot well before that.   

The Knights are continuing to hold their ground in SUNYAC standings—but playing well in these two games will be very beneficial for the Knights, both in ranking and in mentality for the players.

Women’s basketball unstoppable at 21-0

Senior guard Katie Durand dribbles up the court in search of an open teammate. The women have maintained a 21-0 record, and they look to continue this success all the way through SUNYACs. (Keith Walters/Campus Photographer)

The Geneseo women’s basketball team has clinched a playoff spot in the SUNYACs once again. 

This feat is no surprise, as the team is still holding on to a perfect record at 21-0. Not only are the women four wins away from completing a perfect regular season, but they are potentially one game away from clinching a No. 1 or 2 seed, guaranteeing them a first round bye. 

This advantage can easily be captured with a win over the 13-8 SUNY Oneonta Red Dragons on Friday Feb. 10. 

Geneseo squared off with the Red Dragons back in December at Geneseo. The game was anything but a cakewalk, as the Knights slipped away with a 48-40 victory. The Red Dragons led by five points at the half, and had it not been for Geneseo’s outstanding defense in the third quarter—which held Oneonta to three points—the Knights would have most likely been served their first loss of the season. 

With Oneonta going 8-2 in their last 10 games, the upcoming matchup will certainly be an intense one—especially since Geneseo’s perfect record is at stake. 

“I think these players have made it a priority that come February, they’re in a position to compete for a conference championship game,” head coach Scott Hemer said. “I don’t think being 20-0 or 16-4 changes that. They have the same goals and objectives, and although it’s a little more stressful on them mentally, I think it doesn’t change the way they approach each game.” 

The Knights last game was just another example of their incredible team dynamic. The women faced the SUNY Brockport Golden Eagles away on Friday Feb. 3. The team cooperation was evident, as the Knights won 64-51. 

Key players in this game included sophomore guard Kelsey Poplawski—who scored eight points of the Knights 22 points in the third quarter—and senior guard Kara Houppert, who had a stellar night, putting up a team-high of 15 points alongside eight rebounds. Senior guard Katie Durand also continued her strong season, scoring seven points, currently leading the team in points per game with 11 percent.

Assuming the Knights continue the winning trends that they’ve basked in this season, they will find themselves in favorable contention for not only a No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC Tournament, but also in the NCAA Tournament. 

The NCAA Tournament will begin shortly after the SUNYAC Championship game, which is scheduled for Feb. 25. The Knights acceptance into the NCAA Tournament will be indicative of how they finish the season and of their performance in the SUNYAC Tournament. 

Geneseo has made it deep into the NCAA Tournament a few times over the past couple decades. Given their current dynamic and statistics, the 2016-17 women’s team looks like a strong contender for a high seeding slot.

Men’s basketball works hard for playoff spot

Senior guard Justin Ringen breaks away from the SUNY Plattsburgh defense to get open for his teammate. The Knights are planning to fight hard during their next few games in order to ensure their spot in the SUNYAC play.

Geneseo men’s basketball suffered two tough losses on the road on Friday Jan. 27 and Saturday Jan. 28. The Knights lost to SUNY Cortland 80-69 and with a short turnaround period lost to SUNY Oswego 81-70. Both opponents are worthy competitors, Oswego alone sitting in first place in the SUNYAC Conference. 

“We did not shoot the ball well at all from the perimeter,” head coach Steve Minton said. 

In the Oswego game, the team only shot 3 for 21 at the three-point line, an aspect of the game that Geneseo usually considers one of their best strengths. 

“This has not been something that’s been a problem for us,” Minton said. “We’re a very good shooting team … but not shooting the ball this weekend bit us a little bit.” 

The team had a great first half on Friday Jan. 27, putting up 41 points in addition to defending well and taking the lead in the game. 

“The second half was a flip-flop of the first half,” Minton said. 

Cortland’s resurgence can in part be attributed to great performance at the three-point line, shooting 9 for 15; in comparison, Geneseo shot 6 for 19, which was “not in the area we want to be in,” according to Minton.

Geneseo also lost momentum because they were unable to get to the foul line. As an 81.2 percent foul-shooting team, the Knights rely heavily on those points and unfortunately did not receive the opportunities that they usually do. In the Cortland game, the Knights only shot nine free throws, which proved to be too few.

Geneseo faced the best team currently in the conference in the Saturday Jan. 28 game at Oswego. Minton said that the major problem in that game was that those individuals “were not contained by us.” He continued saying that the Knights’ top scorers did not shoot well and “when that happens we’re not deep enough to overcome it.” 

Despite the recent struggles, everyone on the team is still putting in effort and refusing to get discouraged. Their approach is still optimistic and revolves around “getting out of this hole we’re in,” according to Minton. They continue to use the mindset that persevering mentally helps one to improve physically.

The season is now winding down, meaning that there are no more mid-week games. The Knights look to bounce back, to gain some momentum and to increase their positive energy when they play one game on the road against SUNY Brockport on Friday Feb. 3. 

The Knights were the only loss for Brockport in the SUNYAC Conference before Friday Jan. 27, who also dropped two games this weekend. Geneseo hosted Brockport in early January and won by a large margin with an 86-66 final score. The hope is that the Knights can once again walk away with a win. 

In terms of conference play, this is an important game—especially if the season ends in a tiebreaker situation. The tying teams would be evaluated on their play with each other and the top of the conference. Brockport is currently in second place in the SUNYAC and Geneseo is in the middle of the pack.

“We need a win against Brockport; it’s not going to determine the season, but it would do a lot for us,” Minton said.u

Men’s basketball strives to keep positive momentum

The Geneseo men’s basketball team split their back-to-back games against two conference opponents. SUNY New Paltz was trounced in a 95-74 victory for the Knights on Friday Dec. 2, but the Knights couldn’t hold on to stave off a late comeback against SUNY Oneonta, falling 89-88. The Knights played some of their best basketball against New Paltz, as they completely controlled the game early in the second half. Senior guard John Decker led all scorers with 32 points. He had an efficient night, hitting eight of his 11 attempts, and he really made his defenders pay for fouling him by hitting 13 of his 14 free throws.

“He’s certainly got a lot of tools,” head coach Steve Minton said. “He’s very deceptive, he’s unselfish and can also hurt you with a pass.”

This game was a great example of how well he uses those tools to affect the game.

There were a number of impressive individual performances, though, up and down the roster. Senior guard Justin Ringen scored 16 points—including three three-point shots—in only 19 minutes. Junior guard Kevin Crockett led the bench in scoring with nine points, as he helped to set up his teammates with three assists and a steal.

Sophomore guard CJ Burke also had an impressive game, as he scored eight points. He may have even earned himself some more time on the court, looking into the future, as he displayed a series of shrewd post moves that sent his defenders soaring as he was scoring.

As promising as the Knights played against New Paltz, however, they couldn’t carry over the momentum into the next night for their game versus Oneonta.

Crockett had a great game, leading the team in scoring with 27 points, followed closely by Decker’s 24. The Knights played well in the beginning of the game and even established a 16-point lead. None of this deterred Oneonta, however, who went on a run to come back and win the game with a layup with only three seconds on the clock.

“They just defended and they did a good job on Decker,” Minton said.

Oneonta forced Decker to take difficult shots, leading him to miss a few. Additionally, Oneonta’s team defense really stepped up in the second half, as they didn’t allow Geneseo to land any shots in the final five minutes of play.

The Knights were also outrebounded 36-27. Not being able to start and end possessions with a rebound makes it difficult to control the game on both offense and defense. This, coupled with the fact that the bench struggled to only score 13 points, made it difficult for the Knights to fend off a hungry Oneonta team.

“You can’t take anybody lightly,” Minto said. “There’s got to be an intensity for 40 minutes.”

With their next opponent being the undefeated University of Rochester Yellowjackets, practice will be important, as they have one of their toughest games ahead of them. “When you’re coming off of a loss, the first thing you’ve got to do is make sure that your approach to practice is right and that it has high-energy,” Minton said.

The season is moving along for the Knights, as the competition will only get tougher. Even though the semester is cooling down, the Knights will have to continue to heat up.

Women’s basketball remains undefeated

While most students traveled back home to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Geneseo women’s basketball team celebrated two victories on Nov. 22 and Sunday Nov. 27. The Knights are off to an energizing start this season, putting up impressive numbers thus far. Geneseo ended November with a perfect 4-0 record, putting them at the top of the SUNYAC division standings.

The women’s winning streak began on Nov. 18 when they steamrolled past Penn State-Harrisburg 69-34 in the Lebanon Valley Tournament in Annville, Pennsylvania. Following the win, Geneseo faced the Lebanon Valley College Dutchmen in the tournament championship, which they went on to win 52-40. Senior guard Bridgit Ryan put up 17 points against the Dutchmen while hitting four of five three-pointers.

Following these successes, the Knights went into Thanksgiving break with a lot of momentum. Back in New York, they traveled to SUNY Morrisville to face the non-conference Mustangs. Great offense led the Knights to their third straight win, defeating the Mustangs by a 30-point margin of 79-49.

To end November, the Knights picked up their fourth straight win against the Misericordia University Cougars on Sunday Nov. 27, winning 69-59. Senior guard Katie Durand was a key player in this game, putting up 16 points. Scoring and stats aside, the team has seemed to find the great dynamic that it’s been accustomed to for the past few seasons.

“It’s become an expectation for our players to compete for championships every year,” head coach Scott Hemer said.

Hemer praises his team on their ability to defend and get rebounds, two things the Knights have done well thus far this season.

The Geneseo women’s basketball team has a history of putting up impressive numbers, records and championship runs. The team consistently wins SUNYAC titles and clinches NCAA Division III Tournament spots, something that is uncommon for teams in a smaller and lesser-known division like the SUNYACs.

With a 4-0 record—and the fact that all four games of their season have been played on the road and were blowouts—it appears as if the women are well on their way to yet another successful season. All expectations will be challenged later in the season, though, when the Knights face prominent conference opponents. This includes SUNY Fredonia, who is ranked second in the SUNYACs and has a 4-1 record.

The Knights’ next game will mark the beginning of conference play this season, as they face the SUNY New Paltz Hawks on Friday Dec. 2 at Geneseo, who are 3-2 this season. The conference opener will coincidentally be the Knights’ first home game of the season, too.

Following Geneseo’s 7:30 p.m. matchup against the Hawks, the Knights will face the SUNY Oneonta Red Dragons on Saturday Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. in Geneseo.

LeBron James accuses Phil Jackson of racial slurs

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James said that he has lost all respect for Knick’s President Phil Jackson after comments he made in a recent interview with ESPN. James has taken offense to Jackson’s characterization of James and his business associates as his “posse.” When asked if he had any previous relationship with Jackson, James responded, “Zero. No relationship at all. I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do.” That respect, however, is at the very least strained due to these recent comments.

Jackson was asked to comment on James’ decision to leave the Miami Heat for Cleveland in the summer of 2014. He then referenced a situation that occurred when James was on the Heat in Cleveland for a road game.

“When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland, and he wanted to spend the night. They don’t do overnights. Teams just don’t,” Jackson said. “So now [coach Erik] Spoelstra has to text [Heat President Pat] Riley and say, ‘What do I do in this situation?’ And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, ‘You are on the plane. You are with this team. You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.’”

Jackson went on to say that James has a tendency to need things his way and that he likes to be in control.

“It just sucks that now, at this point, having one of the biggest businesses you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter that’s done so many great business [deals], that the title for young African-Americans is the word ‘posse,’” James said.

These comments and this recent feud has put New York Knicks shooting forward and personal friend of James, Carmelo Anthony, in a tough spot. Anthony said that he really doesn’t know what the Knicks’ president meant by the word “posse,” but he hopes it’s just a simple case of speaking without thinking—something we’re all guilty of.

James’ associate Maverick Carter also took offense to these comments.

“If he would have said ‘LeBron and his agent,’ ‘LeBron and his business partners’ or ‘LeBron and his friends,’ that’s one thing,” Carter said. “Yet, because you’re young and black, he can use that word. We’re grown men.”

James said that this comment is bigger than just him, his friends and the NBA, because it is comments like this that set African-Americans back.

“We see the success that we have, but then there is always someone that lets you know how far we still have to go as African-Americans,” James said. “We’re not going to let Phil Jackson’s comments stop us from doing what we need to do. It just gives us extra motivation.”

Men’s basketball appears strong on all ends of court

The Geneseo men’s basketball team has opened up their season with a 3-1 record due, in large part, to their run-and-gun offense, which leaves opponents gasping for air. Pushing the pace and shooting from deep is the focal point of the offense, and when the Knights get on a roll, they prove to be a tough team to stop. Throughout the four games that the Knights have played, they executed their offense effectively. Averaging 84 points per game, the Knights achieve those points by passing the ball often, by making 36.8 percent of their three-point shots and by driving to the basket in order to draw fouls and to get to the free-throw line. On defense, the men have been containing the ball and forcing opponents to take bad shots from the perimeter.

Senior guard John Decker has been unstoppable offensively to open the season. Decker currently leads the SUNYAC in scoring with an average of 29.3 points per game. Even more impressively, he is shooting an efficient 47.3 percent from the field, and a scorching 46.5 percent from three.

It is hard to stop Decker once he gets going, as “Decker can just score in a lot different of ways,” head coach Steve Minton said.

It would be hard to disagree, since on Nov. 22 at Morrisville State College Decker scored a staggering 41 points to push the Knights to victory.

Senior guard Jack Eisenberg has been another key factor in the success of the team.

“He’s a hustle guy and he’s a tough guy,” Minton said. “There’s not a whole lot that’s going to bother him.”

That hustle makes him a pest on defense, as Eisenberg forces turnovers, crashes the boards and gets rebounds from bigger players. Additionally, Eisenberg is also doing a great job at orchestrating the offense. He dishes out a team-leading 5.8 assists a game, setting up his teammates for easy baskets; Eisenberg’s ability to make an impact on both sides of the ball has been a great strength for the team.

Minton has been pleased with the team’s speed in playing. The conditioning and endurance required to keep the tempo high has allowed the Knights to score at a high volume, all the while forcing opponents to expend a lot of energy trying to guard the Knights. Sometimes playing at such a high pace leads to a lot of mistakes, but the team has been doing a good job at preventing that, according to Minton.

“I think that they have done a good job of taking care of leads in the game and making sure that what we take are good shots and not turning the ball over,” Minton said.

When discussing what the team needed to improve on, however, Minton pointed toward rebounding.

“We are giving up too many second-chance shots and we are giving up a lot of offensive rebounds,” Minton said.

The box scores agree with Minton, as the Knights have been outrebounded in three of their four games. Getting more of those loose balls would give the Knights more possessions and more control of the game, an aspect that the Knights need to improve on as the season continues.

The Knights will battle for those rebounds on Friday Dec. 2, as they go up against conference-opponent SUNY New Paltz at home.

NBA commences thrilling season

The National Basketball Association’s season isn’t even a month in and there has already been an incredible amount of entertainment, both on and off the court. Topics like small forward Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors, the comparisons of Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James to Michael Jordan and shooting guard Dwyane Wade’s departure from Miami to play for the Chicago Bulls have flooded discussions in the media and amongst fans—but now they are fading into new drama and storylines of the 2016-17 season.

To many fans before the start of the season, there was little doubt about what teams would meet in the finals. The regular season was more of a formality than anything in order to make any team not named the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Golden State Warriors feel that they might get lucky.

It’s understandable as to why fans felt this way. After all, the Warriors added superstar and 2014 MVP Durant to start in one of the most talented starting lineups ever seen in the NBA. As for the Cavs, they are firing on all cylinders, with James still dominating the game in every way imaginable.

With all of this attention on the Warriors and Cavaliers, however, a casual fan might be surprised that neither of these two teams currently have the best record. That title goes to the Los Angeles Clippers, who have shocked the NBA by starting off their season with a 10-1 record, showcasing the cohesiveness of the entire team.

Star point guard Chris Paul has been showing fans why many people consider him to be the best floor general in basketball. He has been setting up his teammates to score easy baskets—averaging 8.5 assists per game—and is creating chaos and fast breaks by averaging 2.9 steals per game.

Paul’s teammate and fellow superstar, power forward Blake Griffin, has been an offensive dynamo that can punish opponents in the post, step out and hit a shot when left open. This isn’t even to mention the vicious dunks that Griffin is capable of making. At times, it is nearly impossible for defenses to plan for him.

The Clippers have made it to the playoffs for the past five years in a row, but have never made it out of the second round, despite consistently having one of the best season records in the NBA. This year, it looks like the Clippers could compete with Golden State in the Conference Finals and finally face the best the Eastern Conference has to offer.

Despite the Warriors dominant performances over the Clippers in the past, the Clippers might  have an opportunity to exploit a new weakness of the Warriors this year: their utter lack of an interior defense. Due to the Durant signing, the Warriors were forced to trade away Andrew Bogut, their tough, defensive-minded center. This has left the Warriors vulnerable against offensively talented big-men.

The Clippers, however, have just that in both Griffin—who can back down defenders or speed around them—and center DeAndre Jordan, who is quite possibly the best in the NBA at finishing alley-oop lobs and embarrassing opposing defenses.

Defensively, Paul has been one of the more effective matchups at stopping—or at least slowing down—Warriors point guard Steph Curry by playing him  physically and not giving him an inch to get off that lethal three-point shot. Power forward Luc Mbah a Moute has also flourished as a perimeter defender at the small forward position for the Clippers, giving them a little more security around the perimeter.

Jordan, the anchor of the defense, patrols the paint quickly and fearsomely, blocking shots and making players driving to the basket think twice before putting up a shot. Jordan’s ability to protect the paint is already established and has earned him a spot in the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team for the past two seasons.

While it’s hard not to get swept up into the sensation that is the Warriors, it is important to keep in mind that there are still 29 other teams that are willing to sacrifice anything it takes to defeat such a fearsome opponent—and none more so than the Clippers. Their ability to score in a variety of ways—along with their bevy of superb defenders—certainly makes Clippers-Warriors matchups a must-watch this season.

Women’s basketball 2016-17 season preview

The Geneseo women’s basketball team will begin their quest to 20 plus wins this season starting on Friday Nov. 18. The Knights hope to continue their legacy as a premier Division III basketball program in the SUNYAC conference. The Knights have been preparing for this season in a number of different ways. From workouts to offensive and defensive strategizing, the Knights are looking to come out of the gates strong and to take an early lead in the division. The team will be coming off a strong 2015-16 season where they went 21-8 and made it to the NCAA DIII Tournament.

With the start of the season just days away, the goals of the program have not changed as Geneseo embarks on its fifth consecutive winning season. This is certainly no small feat for any college basketball team.

“I think it’s become an expectation for our players to compete for championships every year,” head coach Scott Hemer said. “We have things that we pride ourselves on, such as defense and rebounding, which we will continue to do.”

Positive outlook aside, it’s no secret that the Knights will be down key contributors this year. To name a few, the Knights will have to fend without guard Dana Cohen ‘16 and forward Allison McKenna ‘16, who both helped lead the Knights last year.

Geneseo has had a strong recruiting system, however, especially in women’s basketball. Hemer worked hard to find the best of the best and to create a lasting dynasty at Geneseo.

Hemer made sure to recruit talented freshman that will be groomed to win championships by the time they become upperclassmen. With the addition of two new guards, the Knights are looking sharp heading into this season. Although there are changes, Hemer remains optimistic.

“We aren’t going to change who we are, but we are going to change the style in which we play in those systems,” he said.

The women are counting down the days before they head to Annville, Pennsylvania, to compete in the Lebanon Valley Tournament. There, the team will face their first opponent of the season, Penn State-Harrisburg.

“I think they are very excited to get the season underway,” Hemer said.

Geneseo will face the 0-1 Penn State-Harrisburg Nittany Lions on Friday Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. Harrisburg suffered their first loss in a sloppy game against Misericordia College, where they lost 56-26.

With high expectations for the season, the Knights hope to get off to a strong start in order to carry the momentum all the way through February.

Men’s basketball begins season with victory

College basketball fans can finally relax knowing that they are about to get their fix of hoops, as the Geneseo men’s basketball team prepares to hit the hardwood. After implementing a new, high-paced offense for the 2015-16 season, the Knights played to a record of 17-9 in a season that led them to the SUNYAC Tournament. This year, however, head coach Steve Minton looks to improve on last season’s performance and to push the team even further. Fans looking forward to watching the Knights can count on a fast-paced run and gun offense.

“We try to play fast; we are going to get down the court in a hurry,” Minton said.

Minton has developed his team’s offense with an emphasis on obtaining easy fast-break layups, using the three-point line to their advantage and getting to the free-throw line. It is a highly efficient offensive plan that should look familiar to fans of the NBA, where most teams focus on getting baskets from beyond the three-point line or right at the rim.

On the defensive side of the court, Minton is looking to have his opponents take contested shots outside of the paint by interfering with the opponent’s ball movement and forcing low-percentage shots off the dribble.

Having his defense push the ball to one side of the court and close off passes is a great way to either force bad shots or turnovers, which will allow the Knights to get out in transition and force the opposition to play at their pace.

Minton has instilled this style of basketball in every player on the team, from his seniors to his freshman. As expected, all of the Knights’ seniors are vital parts of the team. Senior guards Justin Ringen and John Decker are incandescent scorers who averaged 21.7 and 18.8 points per game, respectively, last season.

“Either are capable of leading the conference in scoring,” Minton said.

Senior guard Jack Eisenberg is also a player that allows the offense to flow and senior guard Jonathan Cohen is one of the shooters that the Knights look to feed.

The juniors have also established themselves in important roles for the team. Junior guard Charlie Zaepfel has proven to be an excellent playmaker, along with junior guard Connor Murphy, who hustles in order to earn the team extra possessions. Junior guard Kevin Crockett is another shooter that punishes teams that leave him open on the three-point line. Additionally, junior forward Jordi Menkhorst will be one of the players that will be operating out of the post, in the space that the excellent shooting of the team provides.

The sophomores will begin seeing expanded roles on the team and will enjoy the opportunity to establish themselves this season. Sophomore guard CJ Burke saw his role expand throughout the season last year as a freshman and should continue to impress this season. Sophomore forward Sean Avery and sophomore center Chris McVeety offer well-rounded games and continue to develop, which will allow them to be utilized in a variety of game situations—especially as the season progresses. Sophomore forward Jack Manke is another post player with a skillset that should develop in the pace-and-space offense.

There are also four freshmen that have the opportunity to develop into promising talents within the culture and flow of the team. Freshman guard Terence Rogers will learn how Minton wants his point guards to run the offense from Eisenberg and Zaepfel; freshmen guards Terrance Nichols and Tommy Eastman will also look to translate the skills that earned them all-state recognition before coming to Geneseo.

Minton has a lot of respect for his players and their abilities; he plans to continue the success that the program has had.

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.”

Women's basketball gains at-large bid to NCAA Tournament

The Geneseo women’s basketball team had an outstanding win versus SUNY Fredonia in the semifinals of the SUNYAC Tournament, but came up short in the championship by falling to SUNY New Paltz.

The Knights defeated Fredonia in a blowout 71-41 semifinal win. Senior forward Allison McKenna led the team, posting 18 points and nine rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting from the field in 24 minutes. Other key contributions from the game came from senior point guard Dana Cohan—who ended the game with 12 points and seven assists—and junior guard Kara Houppert—who added eight points and four rebounds. 

Geneseo put up 25 bench points in the win to Fredonia’s 14. While this isn’t a large margin, it shows that Geneseo has depth and is able to call on reserves to provide a punch when they need it.

The Knights also had four current members of their team honored on Friday Feb. 26 in between the semifinal games. Former forwards and current assistant coaches Alyssa Polosky ’12 and Shannon McGinnis ’15—as well as McKenna and Cohan—received recognition for their selections to All-SUNYAC teams in their respective years. McGinnis said it was an honor to be recognized for their hard work.

“Although many alumni were unable to make the ceremony, it was still a great experience to see and meet players from various years who made a great impact on our conference,” she said.

With a head of steam going into the championship game, the Knights looked to dethrone New Paltz—a team that had beaten them twice previously this season. Geneseo entered the second quarter with the score at 14-12 New Paltz, but only put up eight points to New Paltz’s 14 in the second; leaving Geneseo with an eight-point deficit going into halftime. The Knights were unable to rebound from that and lost the game 65-52.

Although the Knights lost in the championship, they still received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. This is the second consecutive year Geneseo has participated in the women’s basketball postseason. This may seem like déjà vu for the women, as they are matched up with Fairleigh Dickinson University at Florham—the same team that knocked last year’s Geneseo squad out of the Sweet 16. According to junior guard Kayleigh Cavanaugh, however, the team is more than ready for the challenge.

“This is a familiar opponent, so we should be able to do some things differently and hopefully come out with a better result. A big part of our success this season was our chemistry and just how close we are on and off the court,” Cavanaugh said. “As far as next year goes, we are looking to repeat the success we had this year and, personally, I am trying to end my basketball career on a high note.”

The Knights travel to Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey to face FDU-Florham on Friday March 4.

Knight of the Week: Davina "Dream" Ward

For many athletes who are cut from a team in college, it marks the end of their career. For sophomore Davina Ward, however, it marked the beginning of her career as the team manager.

After being cut from the women’s basketball team, Ward was asked by head coach Scott Hemer to stay and be the team manager. Ward would prove to be a valuable addition as manager to the team, acting as an integral part of the Geneseo basketball program’s family.

Ward was born in Yonkers and eventually moved to Buffalo. She attended Global Concepts Charter High School, where she was part of the first graduating class. Ward describes herself as a “lazy, but good student,” which is surprising for someone who was the salutatorian of her class.

Ward explained that she kept busy with schoolwork, basketball and volleyball practice in high school and also worked on the weekends. Ward’s start to basketball was rather unexpected for someone who tried out for their college team: she only started in high school because everyone around her encouraged her to do it and because she was tall.

“I really didn’t like it at first. When I was a kid, I was really tall so everyone used to ask me why I didn’t play basketball,” Ward said. “And my response was always, ‘I don’t want to.’ In high school, I started playing because I went to such a small school that there was really no choice but for me to play.”

She added that she began watching videos of Larry Bird in her junior year, which inspired her to work as hard as she could to become a better player.

The Geneseo women’s basketball team is extremely lucky to have a tenacious young woman such as Ward helping them out. She has an outgoing, happy personality that is hard to come by. It is clear that she is very driven with whatever it is she does.

Reinforcing her extroverted persona, Ward explained that one of her favorite activities to do is to approach random people walking around on campus and challenge them to a surprise “dance-off.” She said her most memorable experience was with a student who challenged her to a beat boxing contest instead of a dance-off.

“A friend of mine from the team was there and suggested that he beat boxed while I danced,” Ward said. “So that’s what we did. And for about 30 seconds, we had the best dancing, beat boxing situation ever. I haven’t seen that guy since, but it is my favorite story at Geneseo.”

While she may not be playing for the women’s basketball team here at Geneseo, Ward is still a part of the family and has learned many valuable lessons.

“You have to take pride in whatever you do,” Ward said. “Even though I really only fill water bottles … I am proud to be the manager.”

Ward described her role as manager as “humbling.” Coming from a small town team, she wasn’t prepared for the harsh reality of college varsity sports. Still, she managed to make the most of the situation and explained that she hopes to become a coach one day.

Men's b-ball falls in first round

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.”