Cupid’s arrow falls short: No love shown in loss to Siena

By Aaron Rispoli

Assistant Sports Editor

For the 15th time this season the Griffs have allowed an opponent to put up eighty points. The now 11-15 Griffs came into the contest versus the Siena Saints after securing a 67-61 victory over the Rider Broncs in a defensive showcase.

A pragmatic approach to the game, one that includes all of the essential basketball jargon that coaches preach over and over, has produced results for the Griffs. Taking good open looks, getting stops on defense and limiting points off turnovers were all apart of the winning formula last Sunday.

It appeared, however, that the Griff’s pragmatism would be short lived after the opening tipoff last night against the Saints. Canisius fell behind early going 8-28 in the field during the first half and 1-8 from the perimeter.

The Saints had lost six straight to Canisius entering this season, but after their 78-99 victory over the Griff’s back in January they were able to secure the season sweep in a convincing fashion, averaging over 94 points in both games while shooting just under 60% from the field.

Freshman guard Nico Clareth led the Saints with 22 points in their resounding victory over the Griffs. The team improved to 13-0 when keeping their opponents under 70 points. In 26 games the Griffs have only kept their opponents under 70 points six times.

Kassius Robertson led the Griffs with nineteen points (7-14) in the losing effort but lacked the support to cut into the Saints lead. The Griffs were able to come within 11 on three straight threes by Freshman Isaiah Gurley in the second half but the Saints came back with seven unanswered points of their own and handed the Griff’s their 15th loss of the season.

The old cliché in all its glorious form and banality is “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” or something to that effect. The validity of this idiom cannot be understated. The common thread of the season has been the Griff’s uptempo basketball and inclination to shoot the ball, in particular the trey with the hope and prayer that the ball will fall.

After the game versus the Broncs, Coach Jim Baron noted that he was “proud of the way the guys played” and that their “uptempo basketball was what they needed to continue”. He went on to say that “We really wanted to attack them from the start.”

Now the key difference between the 67-61 win over the Broncs and the 67-90 loss against the Saints can be found in the “artillery” of the two times, should we wish to continue with the redundant analogy using weaponry.

The Griff’s plan remained constant from one week to the next, shooting the ball with relative the same alacrity versus the Saints (22-59) as they did against the Broncs. (24-55). The results were different, however, and one would be tempted to draw the conclusion that the Griffs can shoot the ball against a bad team—namely the 10-15 Broncs. Using a similar strategy versus the MAAC’s third best team, after getting dismantled by second place Iona two games prior, is perplexing.

The Griff’s are ranked 318th in the country in scoring defense as opponents are averaging just under 80 points per game. With five games remaining on the schedule and the MAAC championship looming around the bend, the time to play well is now.

“We need consistency, we need to start playing better on the roads. We need our guys to bring it”,  Coach Baron told radio play-by-play broadcaster Ben Wagner.

With three games at home and two on the road, notably their regular season finale against Iona, the Griffs will have ample opportunity to steer their season back onto the desired direction. The league, led by King Rice’s Monmouth, has drawn a surprising amount of interest this season. Following the comments by Iona’s head coach Tim Cluess, relegating the Monmouth bench to “cheerleaders”, the MAAC has become a watchable display of basketball.

The lowly Griffs, with their inability to shoot with much consistency but the obdurate game plan in which they implement makes for a night in which they could come away the victors, appearing in sync and capable. The same team that beat Monmouth and their bench earlier this season. Using the same plan of attack, the Griffs also come out on the losing end. This result has been more common this season.
What has remained the same, however, is the fervor in which they play. A team coached by Jim Baron will never appear lethargic, even though that rarely conveys itself on the box score.

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