Men’s basketball to play at KeyBank Center

By Adam Duke

Sports Reporter

As the semester draws to a close, the men’s basketball team nears their most publicized game of the season, taking on the University at Buffalo Bulls in the Big 4 Basketball Classic. A year ago, the Griffs lost a nail-biter against the Bulls by a score of 96-98.

After trailing at halftime by 12 points, the Griffs rallied back to put up 54 points in the second half. Unfortunately, they were unable to complete the comeback and achieve the victory, falling short by two points. Kassius Robertson led the team with 24 total points and Phil Valenti led with 10 rebounds.

This is the fifth time the city of Buffalo will be the host of the Big 4 Tournament. The Griffs will be playing the second game of the doubleheader, following a game between the Niagara Purple Eagles and the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. The first Big 4 Basketball Classic was in 1996, the year the Griffs won the MAAC Championship.

“In advance of the NCAA Tournament returning to Buffalo next March, we are excited to once again provide an exciting college basketball doubleheader in First Niagara Center,” said Athletic Director Bill Maher. Setting up an event like this takes a lot of cooperation and coordination among all four schools and (KeyBank) Center. Western New York basketball fans and alumni from all four schools always express their nostalgia for the Saturday double-headers in the Aud. The Big 4 Basketball Classic allows all four schools to pay homage to the importance of college basketball in the history in our city”

Two years ago, at the last Big 4 tournament, the teams wore uniforms inspired by the former NBA franchise Buffalo Braves. This tournament, the teams will be wearing throwback uniforms voted on by students and fans. The Griffs will be wearing uniforms based on those they wore in the 1980s: gold jerseys and shorts with blue and white piping and the word “Griffs” scrawled across the front of the jersey. Other choices included uniforms from the 1950s and the 1990s.

“The Buffalo Braves-themed uniforms all four schools wore in 2014 received a tremendous amount of attention,” stated Maher. “We believe that allowing fans to have a say in what the schools wear in this year’s event just takes this piece of the Big 4 Basketball Classic to a new level.”

The Griffs have a 27-19 all-time record while competing at KeyBank Center. In their past two meetings with UB, both downtown, the blue and gold split with the Bulls.

In the Griffs’ final game of 2016, they will travel to Olean, New York for a matchup against St. Bonaventure. Last season, the Griffs fell to the Bonnies, 73-77. Robertson led all active players in total points with 13 and Valenti led active players in total rebounds with 7.

To ring in the New Year, the Griffs will compete in six Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games, beginning at home on January 2 against the Siena Saints at the Koessler Athletic Center. This will be followed by a game against the Quinnipiac Bobcats the next day.

In the 2015-16 season, the Griffs lost both bouts with the Saints by over 20 points, as they were defeated 78-99 and 67-90. With regards to the Bobcats, Canisius split matches, losing the first contest 76-78 and winning the second 63-53.

They will then depart for New Rochelle, New York and Bridgeport, Connecticut to contest the Iona Gaels and the Fairfield Stags on January 8 and 10. Last time the Griffs competed with Iona, they were playing in the quarterfinals of the MAAC Championship. They lost to the Gaels for the third time, 55-73, as they had previously come up short 66-84 and 78-86 in the regular season. Against Fairfield, they lost both, 77-84 and 71-74.

The series of six MAAC games over the break comes to a close on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend, as the Griffs return to the KAC for their first matchup with the Marist Red Foxes and their second with the Monmouth Hawks, whom the Griffs lost to 88-94 this past weekend on the road. On the other hand, the Griffs steamrolled Marist on two occasions last season, emerging victorious by scores of 92-83 and 81-66.

Though the Griffs were unsuccessful in the away game this past weekend against Monmouth, they split wins last year, winning the home game. They have a chance to repeat that performance this season, as the Hawks will set foot in the KAC on January 16.

This weekend, however, the Griffs return home after a four game road stretch. The immediate challenge lies in their matchups Saturday afternoon and Monday night, as they are pitted against the St. Francis College Terriers and the University of Albany Great Danes.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

© 2018 The Griffin. All rights reserved.
%d bloggers like this: