Griffs prepare for season opener at Hofstra

By Adam Duke

Sports Reporter

After two huge victories in exhibition matchups, the Griffs men’s basketball team begins their season tonight at Hofstra.  

“Coming off the two exhibition games, it’s obviously all positives- mostly positives- we still have to work on some things. I think that the momentum is good because- not the fact that we won the basketball games, but the way we won together, looking out for each other, and seeing the court,” said senior Jamal Reynolds, who had an impressive showing against Ryerson, totaling 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Though Reynolds says the wins set the Griffs in a positive direction, he explained that they don’t matter. “It’s 0-0. We haven’t won a game, Hofstra hasn’t won a game, so I don’t think any team has momentum coming into the game,” he mentioned, saying that the game really comes down to which team is more prepared.

The Hofstra Pride are ranked first in the Colonial Athletic Association, and with a record of 20-14 last season, present quite a challenge for the Griffs. “We try to win every game, but this is going to be quite a challenge,” stated Head Coach Jim Baron, now in his third year with the team, “They’ve got some great scorers, great guards that can really shoot the ball. So it’s going to be a challenge for us, but we’ll take it one half at a time.”

Junior Phil Valenti also commented on the upcoming game, saying, “Hofstra’s got a lot of veteran guys, so we just have to play defense- stay in the gaps. It’s what coach preaches every day. Just do what he says and we’ll give ourselves a good chance to win.” He concurred with Reynolds that the game will come down to preparedness, saying that the momentum will have to come from practice and that the team will need to build off of their motivation to start the season. Valenti continued, saying that a win against the Pride would, “set a tone for the whole season.” Reynolds agreed, mentioning, “Last year, we won our first game against Lehigh, and we actually ended up starting 2-0. Some teams picked us to win five games and we ended up winning 18 on the season, so it starts you off and gives you good momentum.” He said that the first game, though a momentum builder, would not determine the outcome of the season either way. He asserted that a win would create positive energy, and a loss, while disappointing, would not mean that the season is over.

“Friday’s going to be a tough game. Hofstra’s picked first in their league and they’re in a tough conference,” stated Reynolds. He continued, “I think it’s one power tier above us, so it’s going to be a tough game, but at the same time, if we come in and we’re prepared and we follow the gameplan that the coaches have for us, I think we have a great chance at getting this first win.”

As Coach Baron commented, “This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We have to grow, we have to learn, and continue to get better.” With a young team, Baron realizes that this season will be about development and creating a new team chemistry. However, as a 29 year coach, he is used to this. “You can’t resign guys,” said Baron, “It’s not like the pros. We graduate all of our players and then get newcomers coming in. The good part about it is that we have a system.”

Last season, the Griffs went 18-15, 11-9 in the MAAC. This season, they attempt to make the playoffs yet again and continue to improve off of their previous seasons.

Hofstra, a veteran team with five seniors and three juniors, will give the young Griffs a run for their money, as Canisius basketball begins the 2015-2016 season on the road tonight.

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