Experience is key

Hinriksdottir_FilePhoto

Junior forward Sara Hinriksdóttir will be a focal point for the Griffs after a breakout sophomore season. (Emyle Watkins/Griffin file photo)

By Marshall Haim

Sports Editor

Basketball season is in the air. A week from Friday the women’s basketball team will play in their first game of the 2017-18 season at home against Colgate.

This year’s team has a lot of returning experience, which will help both head coach Terry Zeh and his players in the long run, especially toward the end of the season and in the MAAC Tournament in Albany.

The three freshmen on this year’s team also bring viable experience from their respective high school teams hoping to aid the Griffs to what could be their best season in the MAAC since the 2008-09 season, when Canisius went 14-4.

Here is my game-by-game predictions on how the season will go for the women’s basketball team:

Nov. 10 — vs. Colgate

The Griffs have a matchup with the Patriot League’s Colgate Raiders for their home opener. They were the second best three-point shooting team in the Patriot League (34.2 percent) last season, but the Griffs have a strong perimeter defense. Expect a close contest in the Griffs’ season opener.  Prediction: Win (1-0 overall).

Nov. 15 — vs. St. Bonaventure

The annual meeting with St. Bonaventure will take place at home this season after the Griffs beat the Bonnies in Olean at the Reilly Center last year, 74-57. The Griffs will be the much stronger team. Prediction: Win (2-0 overall).

Nov. 19 — at Bowling Green

The Griffs’ first road game of the year takes them to Bowling Green, Ohio. Former Griffs assistant coaches Jacey Brooks and Nick Moore are now both assistant coaches at BGSU. The Falcons have been down recently, but could pose a strong fight especially in rebounding. First road game jitters may be visible. Prediction: Loss (2-1 overall).

Nov. 22 — vs. Cornell

The Griffs lost in Ithaca last year, 60-43. Cornell returns to the KAC for the first time since 2011-12. The Big Red can make threes and will force their opponent to turning the ball over a lot (16.04 turnovers per game). Prediction: Loss (2-2 overall).

Nov. 26 — at Bucknell

A trip to play last year’s champion of the Patriot League and co-favorite to win the conference this year is not an ideal matchup. The Bison led the league in blocks, field goal percentage, field goal defense and rebound margin last year. Home court advantage is also going to play a big factor. Prediction: Loss (2-3 overall).

Nov. 29 — vs. Oakland

A team that can score, rebound and steal the ball? That’s what the Golden Grizzlies can do. They led the Horizon League in all of the previous categories last year. Canisius may be able to catch up, but it won’t be easy. The losing streak will continue. Prediction: Loss (2-4 overall).

Dec. 3 — at Miami (Ohio)

It’s the first time Canisius and Miami will meet since 1996-97. The RedHawks aren’t as strong as they were almost 20 years ago. Being on the road might be tough, but the Griffs must keep Lauren Dickerson in check. Prediction: Win (3-4 overall).

Dec. 7 — at Buffalo

The Griffs will head to Alumni Arena to face familiar foe, Buffalo. Felicia Legette-Jack’s squad is progressively getting better year in and year out. Stephanie Reid is an extremely tough player to guard. The Griffs will drop their fifth straight to the Bulls. Prediction: Loss (3-5 overall).

Dec. 16 — vs. Morehead State

Canisius lost to the Eagles last year in Kentucky. The Eagles led the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) in blocks and steals, while placing second in scoring margin. This is not an easy game by any means, even with the game being at home this time around. Prediction: Loss (3-6 overall).

Dec. 19 — at UTRGV

The first of two games in the UTRGV Holiday Classic in Edinburg, Texas, the Griffs will play the Vaqueros for the first time in program history. Despite the travel, it should be an easy win for Canisius in the Lone Star State. Prediction: Win (4-6 overall).

Dec. 20 — vs. Middle Tennessee

The final game of the UTRGV Holiday Classic, the Griffs will play the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee. Like the previous game, it’s the first meeting between Canisius and MTSU. Alex Johnson is a must-guard player. The Blue Raiders are favored to win the Conference-USA regular season title. Prediction: Loss (4-7 overall)

Dec. 29 — vs. Fairfield

With the new MAAC scheduling process, the Griffs will only play Fairfield once this year. The only meeting will come during the annual doubleheader with the men’s team. Having Sara Hinriksdóttir most likely going up against redshirt senior forward Samantha Cooper will be an awesome matchup. Anticipate a close game in the Griffs’ opener to MAAC play. Prediction: Win (5-7, 1-0 MAAC).

Jan. 2 — at Iona

The Griffs will ring in the New Year in New York City suburb New Rochelle, with a match with Iona. Like Fairfield, Canisius will only play the Gaels once. Iona does have Alexis Lewis back for her junior year, however, the Gaels aren’t the same 12-8 team they were last year. Prediction: Win (6-7, 2-0 MAAC).

Jan. 4 — at Manhattan

The Jaspers are quite young but do have veteran experience with Kayla Grimme at forward and Amani Tatum at point guard. Their youth may show, but the Griffs will open MAAC play with a solid three-game win streak. Prediction: Win (7-7, 3-0 MAAC).

Jan. 7 — at Rider

The last game of a three-game conference road trip ends in Lawrenceville, N.J. with a meeting with the Broncs. The Griffs lost both games last year by one and 11 points, respectively. Stella Johnson is going to be a pivotal player for the Broncs this season. Prediction: Loss (7-8, 3-1 MAAC).

Jan. 11 — vs. Manhattan

For the second time in exactly a week the Griffs face off against the Jaspers. Home court will be key for the Griffs and the matchup of Hinriksdóttir going up against Grimme will be fun to watch. Prediction: Win (8-8, 4-1 MAAC).

Jan. 13 — vs. Siena

The Saints’ lack of size will not matter with senior Kollyns Scarbrough, an All-MAAC Preseason First Team selection, at the guard position. Expect a close game, but the Saints will win their sixth straight over the Griffs. Prediction: Loss (8-9, 4-2 MAAC).

Jan. 18 — at Saint Peter’s

Talah Hughes and Sajanna Bethea are the entire Saint Peter’s team, and everyone in the MAAC knows it. Challenging them on offense will make it hard for the team to score. Zoe Pero could have a breakout sophomore year, but Cansius will get their 10th consecutive win over Saint Peter’s.  Prediction: Win (9-9, 5-2 MAAC).

Jan. 20 — at Monmouth

The Griffs will visit West Long Branch, N.J. looking to avenge a heartbreaking loss suffered last year, 55-53. It is uncertain if that can happen this year, as the Hawks have pretty decent size and good guards.  Like last year at Monmouth, expect a very close game. Prediction: Loss (9-10, 5-3 MAAC).

Jan. 26 — vs. Quinnipiac

An 11 a.m. start on Kid’s Day won’t affect Quinnipiac at all. The Bobcats made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament last year and it wasn’t a fluke. Tricia Fabbri has built a juggernaut in Hamden, Conn. They will continue to roll in MAAC play, beating Canisius for the 10th consecutive time. Quinnipiac is one of the best Mid-Major programs in the nation. Look out. Prediction: Loss (9-11, 5-4 MAAC).

Jan. 28 — vs. Marist

Marist will be the “sleeper” of the MAAC this year, despite being picked to finish second by the coaches in the MAAC. The Griffs hosting Quinnipiac and Marist in back-to-back games is not ideal, either. Twin sisters Rebekah and Hannah Hand are the stars for the Red Foxes and are very tough to guard. Claire Oberdorf at the point is also an added bonus for Marist. Prediction: Loss (9-12, 5-5 MAAC).

Feb. 1 — vs. Niagara

Griffs fans are forced to wait until this date to see the first installment of the Battle of the Bridge for women’s basketball. Canisius has dominated the series winning eight of the last 10 meetings, including three games last year (twice in the regular season, once at the MAAC Tournament). Rampado and Stroemple will be focal points to guard for Niagara. The game will be entertaining and close.  Prediction: Win (10-12, 6-5 MAAC).

Feb. 5 — vs. Saint Peter’s

A home game against the Peacocks will be an easy one to watch for the home crowd. The Griffs will likely run all over the Peacocks giving them their seventh conference win of the year. Prediction: Win (11-12, 7-5 MAAC).

Feb. 9 — at Quinnipiac

11 straight wins for Fabbri and Bobcats over the Griffs after this contest in the Nutmeg State. This game won’t be  close, either. Jen Fay, Aryn McClure will shine for the Bobcats. Prediction: Loss (11-13, 7-6 MAAC).

Feb. 11 — at Marist

Facing Quinnipiac and Marist, on the road, in back-to-back games at this time of the year, is not ideal. Marist will be fighting for a top-three seed in the tournament with the home crowd behind them. Prediction: Loss (11-14, 7-7 MAAC).

Feb. 16 — vs. Monmouth

After a close affair in New Jersey almost a month prior, the Griffs will be needing a huge win to get a decent seeding at the MAAC Tournament. Canisius will show poise and come out with a critical win over a fairly decent Monmouth squad. Prediction: Win (12-14, 8-7 MAAC).

Feb. 18 — vs. Rider

Johnson will be one of the better guards in the entire conference this year and will prove it as the regular season winds down. Other than Johnson, Rider can be vulnerable, but will come out on top, sweeping the season series from the Griffs. Prediction: Loss (12-15, 8-8 MAAC).

Feb. 20 — at Niagara

The Battle of the Bridge, Part II. This game will take place on Monteagle Ridge for the regular season finale between two bitter rivals. Canisius, like the meeting at home, will come out victorious. Rampado will be hard to stop, but NU’s guards are going to struggle. Prediction: Win (13-15, 9-8 MAAC).

Feb. 23 — at Siena

Scarbrough could, and mostly will, be the MAAC’s Player of the Year with the amount of skill she brings to the table. With a tough test down the I-90 in the New York State capital before the MAAC Tournament, Canisius will finish with their best conference play record since the 2008-09 season when they finished 14-4. Prediction: Loss (13-16,  9-9 MAAC).

Mar. 1-5 — MAAC Tournament

With a 9-9 record, that should be good enough to give the Griffs a No. 6 or 7 seed in the MAAC Tournament in Albany. Canisius will win their first round game, but lose to the higher seed they face in the quarterfinals.

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Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Emyle Watkins and commented:
    photo credit

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