Douse cracks into starting lineup

By Andy Helwig

Sports Reporter

It had been 21 games before Griffs’ Head Coach Jim Baron decided to change the starting lineup. Junior Keifer Douse had only averaged 2.1  points before his first start of the season. Douse replaced senior guard Jamal Reynolds, who had a significant decrease in production. Reynolds had only scored more than ten points once since December 5th, when he scored ten at home against Quinnipiac. Douse, who now has a significant increase in minutes is averaging six points in the team’s last 5 games.

Douse is a junior-college transfer out of Jacksonville College in Texas who signed his letter of intent to play with the Griffs in April of last year. At Jacksonville he averaged 8.6 points per game, of 31 he started 22 of those games. He made his first start with the Griffs against Fairfield, where he had four points, one rebound, and three assists. His production had significantly increased from there. In the practices prior to Douse’s first start, he found out when the rest of the team did that he would be put into the starting lineup. “It was all a surprise to me,” Douse said. “When Coach [Baron] called my name at practice I was ready to get in there and go” he continued. In the games leading up to his first start, Douse had put up career-highs of six, and followed it up with a new high of seven.

When the team found out, starting forward Phil Valenti said “it’s just a different guy in the lineup. Coach always tells us to be ready to go. You never know when your name is going to be called.”Douse made his first home start against the Iona Gaels, who is one of the top teams in the MAAC. Douse dropped 11 in the game, making it another career high for him. The game was the third in a row in which he saw more than 20 minutes on the floor. Coach Baron spoke to the consistency of energy on the floor, ““The energy is the same. We play hard, it’s what I preach from day one. We knew going into the Rider game that we wanted to rev it up on them a bit
to help speed their offense up. So we came out and pressed and then ran when we were on offense. Keifer has done a nice job recently for us. Jamal is a team captain, and he’s a senior. He gave us some great energy off the bench Sunday. That’s what we need.” Despite being in a much larger role now, Douse hasn’t changed his mentality at all: “I always knew that I could do it, I bounced around a lot, it was just a matter of getting my teammates and coaches to believe in it.” This is the third school that Douse has “bounced” to. Prior to being at Jacksonville college in Texas he was at Concordia-Irvine, another junior college school in California.

Douse followed his performance against the Gaels with yet another career day against the Rider Broncs. In his second home start, he scored the Griffs’ first six points to go with a pair of rebounds in the early minutes of the game before the first media timeout. Douse explained his role on the floor as being more vocal on the floor, along with his physical talents. The following the quick offensive outburst, Coach Baron surprised many by going deep into the bench early. Baron brought in big men Ronnie Gombe and Cassidy Ryan. Ryan came in with a career high of his own, draining a trio of 3-pointers. Baron was happy to see the large production from Ryan, who had limited minutes in the season. Baron explained his use of the bench after the game “this is a team game. We need everyone to be ready every day. We tell the guys to be ready. Cassidy played well.” Valenti provided some insight on the move from the player’s perspective: ““Coach went to the bench early because it was our second game in a day-and-a-half. We need fresh legs. We were pressing and trying to speed Rider’s offense up. Again, you have to be ready, Coach Baron says that every day in practice.” Valenti also was happy to see his teammate Ryan hit the shots in the game. It was a huge team effort for the Griffs as they had four different players in the double-digit scoring margin.

After a great outing in his last game, Douse expressed the team’s extra motivation to avenge their loss to the Saints in the Koessler Center. The game had a similar start, given that Douse scored the Griffs’ first seven points. He recalled the big loss that they suffered last time they met. “There’s definitely extra motivation to go in there and beat them, they hit us first early here, and now we want to go do the same to them.” However the game took a turn for the worse after Siena went up by a nearly 20 point margin on several occasions. Douse put up nine points in that game, his first under double digits since the game at Rider. He also contributed four boards, but still has shown his ability to take over games early in his last two outings.

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