Zeh, Griffs believing in ‘The Process’ this season

By Marshall Haim

Sports Editor

“The process.”

It’s the mantra originated by the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers four years ago that has sparked multiple teams to adopt the same motto, including the Buffalo Bills under first-year head coach Sean McDermott. The saying has now reached the collegiate scene in Buffalo with the women’s basketball team at Canisius.

Terry Zeh, in his 14th season at the helm of the women’s basketball team, said Wednesday that the team read a book in the offseason pertaining to “the process.”

“There’s so much clichés, especially with the Bills [with] the process stuff and it’s important. It can get people to really buy into that and that’s what we’ve been trying to do. We read a book in the offseason, together as a group, and it’s bascially about falling in the love with the process and what that means. Hopefully that resonated with them.”

The Griffs were predicted to finish seventh in this season’s MAAC Preseason Coaches poll. The team returns seven players that played at least 24 games last season.

Of those returning, junior forward Sara Hinriksdóttir will be coming off her stellar sophomore season last year where she averaged 14.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 31 games. Margrét Hálfdanardóttir, the team’s third top scorer in 2016-17, also returns for the Blue and Gold.

A player that could be a key contributor to the team this year is Tiana Pugh. The sophomore, who can play both the guard and forward positions, played in 12 games last year but Zeh said that fans that watched her last year will not recognize who she is. Tamara Miskovic, who graduated last season, was watching the team practice recently, telling her former coach that she didn’t recognize Pugh.

Guards Olivia Vernon and Anndea Zeigler, as well as forward Danielle Sanderlin are the only new players for Zeh’s team this season.

“The exciting thing about this freshmen group is that they have a high energy about doing what we do,” Zeh said. “I look at the progress that they’ve made, it’s phenomenal. There’s no part of them that came in feeling like they know more than anybody else. They want to learn, they want to play the way we play, they want to play motion.”

Vernon, a 5-foot-6 point guard from Gilbert, Ariz., was a four-year player at Perry High School. She scored a school-record 53 points in an overtime win last season.

She said that the adjustment from being nearly 2,200 miles away from home has been easy, thanks to her teammates.

“That’s a very sensative topic because they really have,” Vernon said. “I think they’re the biggest help in this transition. I really don’t have words for how much I care about them and how much I know they care about me. They’ve helped tremendously.”

Vernon was the Division 6A Player of the Year last season after averaging 15.2 points, 3.9 rebounds  and 3.7 assists per game. She was named to the All-CUSD First Team three years in a row (2015-2017).

“[Olivia] is a point guard and really sees the game much deeper than I thought as a freshman,” Zeh said. “She gets it, she sees it, she understands it. She can shoot it, score it, and pass it. She certainly has a point guard mentality. She’s has a very calming presense with the basketball in her hands.”

Sanderlin, a 6-foot forward from Williamstown, N.J., was the South Jersey Times Player of the Year last year, averaging a double-double per game (18 points and 10 rebounds). She was also named to the South Jersey Times First Team in all four years on varsity.

“Danielle’s a warrior,” Zeh stated. “She just has a mentality of a warrior. She will go to the glass, she’s going to do all the dirty work thing you’d like to see someone do. She’s going to make hustle plays, she’s going to defend. She’s an intelligent player.”

For Sanderlin, her transition to the collegiate game has been quite easy, thanks to her high school head coach, Lisa Gedaka.

“It hasn’t been that much of a shock because my high school coach was usually intense,” Sanderlin said. “We mimick some of the drills we actually do here, so it was a smooth transition.”

Zeigler, a five-year varsity player at nearby Cardinal O’Hara High School, was a member of the All-Western New York teams in 2015 and 2016.

“Anndea is athletically a difference maker in our conference,” Zeh stated. “She’s really fast — really fast — and skilled, which is fun.”

Zeigler’s transition from high school practices to collegiate ones hasn’t been as easy as Sanderlin’s.

“They’ve been much different from high school,” Zeigler said. “My high school coach was pretty light on us, but we won off of talent. Getting back now” after spending a month out with an injury “is pretty hard, but nothing I can’t handle.”

The Griffs open up the upcoming season next Friday with a non-conference matchup with Colgate. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Koessler Athletic Center.



  1. […] The 6-foot-3 native of Rome, N.Y. went 4-of-5 from the field. Prior to the beginning of the season, Zeh noted that Pugh would be a player that people would not recognize and her performance on Wednesday was exactly […]

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