Cant shoot the three? Not the guy for me

By Aaron Rispoli

Assistant Sports Editor

The Griffs are in the midst of a three game losing streak and with eight conference games within the next three weeks, they possess the ability to salvage the 2015-2016 campaign with crucial wins or to bury themselves indefinitely.

One cannot aggrandize this juxtaposition further; the 10-13 team has been a combination of good, sometimes a bit ghastly but mostly an overall enigma to those who follow the Griffs on the daily.

Coach Baron commented earlier in the season that he loved his team of “junkyard dogs”. That would seemingly imply a team founded upon grit, hustle and heart. One would come to expect close games; nail biters if you will.

One would have to wait, and wait and wait to see a game that is typical of “junkyard dog” type of play, however. In fact, if these are the junkyard dogs we have been promised, the common sentiment among the fanbase should be that of profound disappointment.

In their 23 contests to date, the Griffs have kept opponents to below 70 points a mere five times. To be fair, they have scored their fair share of points as well, averaging 79 points this season. For lack of a better term, night in and night out the Griffs come prepared for a slugfest. Not typically what one would consider a “scrappy team”.

Many times they can match blows with their opponents—this is largely contingent upon the Griff’s ability to shoot well from the perimeter. When they cannot manage to make the trey, is when the team stumbles. And my have they stumbled thus far.

In their loss against the Fairfield Stags on January 29th, the Griff’s shot 31.8 percent from downtown. In their loss against the now 9-14 Rider Broncs just two nights after, they shot 30.4 percent from the perimeter.

One week before those two losses, the Griffs managed to shoot 61.9 percent versus the Sienna Saints. By some inexplicable sorcery, the Griffs still lost the game by a score of 99-78.

So if the team cannot win when they shoot the basketball well, and the team is relegated to impotency when the trey does not fall their way, how can the team expect to win? While approaching the game with such fervor and emphasis on scoring may have worked earlier this season, it is certainly not producing the preferred results now.

Perhaps a more pragmatic approach to the game should be considered. To be 188th in the nation in three-point percentage and 13th among all NCAA Division I institutions in three pointers attempted, points quite overtly at a very palpable issue.

What is to be done? That is the question for the salaried man, Coach Jim Baron. His response was to bench senior captain Jamal Reynolds for the past two contests. The same Jamal Reynolds, who started all 33 games last season in which he shot 50 percent from the field and led the team in rebounds.

This season’s version of Reynolds is clearly not the same player; he is lacking a certain pulse on the court; the same energetic play that so defined him. Reynolds attributed this to confidence, or lack thereof, which Coach Baron suggested he work on.

“Coach Baron has been talking to me about my confidence. What I’m capable of, I know I can have an impact on the game at both ends of the floor. So really I’m just focusing on being confident.”

But confidence is a fickle thing. Jamal Reynolds hasn’t played above twenty minutes in a game since their victory over the Boston University Terriers on December 19th. He played a mere nine minutes in the Griff’s previous contest.

Confidence, one would imagine, is predicated on playing good basketball. To play basketball well at the NCAA level, you have to play. So playing under 10 minutes per game will not raise the confidence of a player but rather, it will dismantle it.

Reynolds isn’t shooting poorly, or particularly well. He is not shooting at all. The norm for the Pickering, Ontario native has become an exhibition on frugality—shooting the ball a few times in a night. Rarely will you see a three-point shot from Reynolds; he is the team anomaly in that respect.

Perhaps that is why Baron has chosen to bench Reynolds and instead start the junior guard Kiefer Douse. He is certainly not starting Douse because he is a more efficient player because he is three for 13 from the field in the two games he has started this season. He is 0-4 from the perimeter which proves itself to be problematic when the team’s achilles heel is of course being so hot and cold with the trey.

Douse is inclined to let the basketball fly and his presence on the court was lauded by Baron during Wednesday’s media session.

“Kiefer is a junior college player. He’s a big guard. He can put the ball on the floor and he’s got experience being from a junior college. We need that. We need a little bit more experience. Someone that athletically, can guard as well.”

Baron’s comments, however, are laced with inconsistencies. Reynolds, though not known as a particularly physical player, is listed as one inch taller and the same 175 pounds as Douse. In addition to the physical attributes, for which he and Douse are more or less even, Reynolds is battle tested as a player. There exists a litany of big games for Coach Baron and has performed up to par; namely his 22 point game versus Dartmouth in the CIT tournament and his 17 rebound game versus Stony Brook.

Experience and presence is what Reynolds brings a plethora of. “A tireless worker”, Baron said of his captain.

The decision to start Douse is a conundrum for most who watch the Griffs. Perhaps Reynold’s transition to role player was an inexorable one; lacking production on the offensive side of the ball and confidence in practice can deter even the most talented individuals.

At least with Jamal Reynolds, though, one can be rest assured that he will rebound the ball, play tough in the paint and will not stymie his team with nonsensical shooting.

To assert that this Griff’s team is more suited without Reynolds, to go to the very depths required to make a run in the MAAC tournament, is to profess one’s ignorance on the game of basketball.

The intangibles that Reynolds brings can only be appreciated when conversing with the heartfelt player.
“Being benched is not really difficult for me. At the end of the day, it’s all about the team. If I’m doing what the team needs me to do, I’m not concerned about myself. We are a team of 13 guys and I support each and everyone of them, whether I’m on the court or not.”

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