Contrary to preseason polls, Griffs will be better than people expect

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Sophomore guard Isaiah Reese will look to be a focal point of the Griffs’ offense this upcoming season. (Emyle Watkins/The Griffin file photo)

By Marshall Haim

Sports Editor

Nov. 11 at Buffalo

The Griffs’ opening game will be the first game Reggie Witherspoon has coached since his 14-year tenure with the Bulls ended in 2013. UB was predicted to be the win their division in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), as well as earning nine votes to win the MAC Tournament. UB has a lot of skill with C.J. Massinburg, Nick Perkins and redshirt senior point guard Wes Clark, a transfer from Missouri, joining the Bulls. This game will get loud as the students at UB do not shy away from getting boisterous. Prediction: Loss (0-1 overall).

Nov. 14 at Air Force

Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase

This is the first game of the Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase, with this game taking place in Colorado. Air Force is tabbed to finish last 11th in the ir conference this season. Canisius will have to watch out for Trevor Lyons and his ability to steal the ball. The Falcons do not have much size, but return two of their top three scorers. Expect both teams to be running up-and-down the court. Prediction: Win (1-1 overall).

Nov. 18 vs. Youngstown State

The Griffs will host the Penguins of Youngstown State in their home opener a week from tomorrow. Canisius won last year’s meeting in Ohio, 90-84. The Penguins were very disciplined last year, leading the Horizon League in fewest fouls, while also leading the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio. 6-foot-3 guard Cameron Morse has had back-to-back seasons averaging 20-plus points per contest, (22.9 last year). He is a must-guard player, if he is open he will bury you. Prediction: Win (2-1 overall).

Nov. 21 at Tennessee State

Canisius played the Tigers last season losing at home, 72-58. The Griffs now  have a friendly matchup heading into the the Music City. Tennessee State has lost three of their top five scorers from last year, including both players that averaged double-figures. Griffs get the revenge win in Nashville. Prediction: Win (3-1 overall).

Nov. 24 vs. Texas State

Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase

Canisius goes up against former Griff Isaiah Gurley and Texas State in their second game of the Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase. The Bobcats have only two returning starters from last year’s team. The key returner is sophomore guard Nijal Pearson, who averaged just over 13 points per game Texas State ranked in the top 50 nationally in four categories last year. Despite their high rankings from last year, they’ve lost a lot and the Griffs get their fourth win in five games. Prediction: Win (4-1 overall).

Nov. 25 vs. Arkansas – Pine Bluff

Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase

The only bright spot in the Golden Lions’ 7-25 season last year was that they ranked 11th in the nation in steals per game (8.7). UAPB had three players average 9.0 points last season, with two having since graduated, and they haven’t had any key transfers either. Griffs get the easy win. Prediction: Win (5-1 overall).

Nov. 26 at Pacific

Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase

Canisius closes out the showcase playing the host, Pacific. Anthony Townes is the only top scorer returning, as Ray Bowles left for Fresno State, a fellow West Coast Conference team. The Tigers did snag Khy Kabellis from North Dakota State, but won’t be eligible this season due to NCAA Transfer Regulations. Canisius comes out California with three straight wins and winning their sixth consecutive game. Prediction: Win (6-1 overall).

Dec. 2 vs. Dartmouth

The Griffs’ first home game since their home opener on Nov. 18, Canisius has a friendly matchup with the Dartmouth. Arguably the worst team in the Ivy League, Canisius should have an easy win. Junior forward Evan Boudreaux is the only player really that would prevent Canisius from winning. He led the Ivy League in rebounds per game (9.5) and had a conference-best 15 double-doubles last year. Prediction: Win (7-1 overall).

Dec. 6 vs. St. Bonaventure

After an thrilling upset in overtime last year in Olean, the Griffs will not be able to make a repeat. St. Bonaventure is one of the best mid-major teams in the nation with Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. They’re a potent 1-2 combo. They could conceivably earn an at-large bid into this year’s NCAA Tournament with their sheer skill. Prediction: Loss (7-2 overall).

Dec. 16 at Albany

A trip down the I-90 to play Will Brown’s Great Danes. It appears to be an unfavorable matchup for two reasons. One, the Griffs are on the road against a team that was 11-5 at home last year. Two, Albany returns their top five scorers. The Great Danes may end up in the NCAA Tournament as the America East champion. Prediction: Loss (7-3 overall).

Dec. 19 vs. Elon

Remember the team that had No. 6 Duke on upset alert last year in the regular season? This is them. The Phoenix ended up losing  to Duke only by 11, but they return all four players from last year’s team that averaged over 11 points per game. This team is talented, very talented. Like their previous opponent, they could end up in the Big Dance. Prediction: Loss (7-4 overall).

Dec. 22 at Robert Morris

Robert Morris lost their top scorer from last year, Isaiah Still, after transferring into the MAAC (Iona). Matty McConnell is the player to really look for on the Colonials. Former Griff Ronnie Gombe is now at Robert Morris, who will more than likely see action while in his final collegiate season. Prediction: Win (8-4 overall).

Dec. 29 vs. Rider

MAAC play begins with a home matchup against the Broncs of Rider.  Last season the Broncs had five players average at least 10 points per game. All but one return, sophomore Stevie Jordan. The Broncs are going to be young and vulnerable. Griffs open up conference play on the right foot. Prediction: Win (9-4 overall, 1-0 MAAC).

Dec. 31 vs. Iona

The preseason favorite to win the MAAC this year, for many reasons. Tim Cluess is a master of his craft and has brought in some great talent to New Rochelle. Former Griff Zach Lewis will return to the KAC for the first time since transferring. Jordan Washington, Jon Severe and Sam Cassell, Jr. all graduated, but Rickey McGill, Deyshonee Much, E.J. Crawford and Lewis will really step up for the Gaels this year.  Prediction: Loss (9-5 overall, 1-1 MAAC).

Jan. 5 at Quinnipiac

Former Villanova assistant head coach under legendary head coach Jay Wright, Baker Dunleavy came in to Hamden to replace Tom Moore and all hell broke loose. The top rookies in the MAAC last year, Mikey Dixon and Peter Kiss, each transferred to Power Five schools (St. John’s and Rutgers, respectively). The Bobcats will be down this year.  Prediction: Win (10-5 overall, 2-1 MAAC).

Jan. 7 at Siena

Never doubt Jimmy Patsos and his Saints, especially in Albany. The Saints have lost four of their five players that averaged at least 12 points last year. Nico Clareth is the lone returner of that bunch (13.7 ppg). If he’s healthy, look out. Losing all the talent Siena had is very tough, but so too is playing at the Times Union Center, on Siena’s home floor, with over 8,000 fans watching.  Prediction: Loss (10-6 overall, 2-2 MAAC).

Jan. 12 vs. Saint Peter’s

Saint Peter’s, like Siena, has lost a lot. Quadir Welton, Trevis Wyche, Antwon Portley (transferred) and Cavon Baker are all gone. The Peacocks will have to rely on Nick Griffin and Nnamdi Enechionyia to do the dirty work. Not an easy task for John Dunne’s squad. Griffs win handily in Jersey City.  Prediction: Win (11-6 overall, 3-2 MAAC).

Jan. 14 vs. Monmouth

The Hawks will most likely not be the 27-7 team they were last year. Justin Robinson, Je’lon Hornbeak and Chris Brady are all gone. Micah Seaborn and Austin Tilghman will have to run the show in West Long Branch this upcoming season. Canisius takes the win at home. Prediction: Win (12-6 overall, 4-2 MAAC).

Jan. 19 at Manhattan

You want a drastic change of records from last year to this year? Manhattan is going to do that. The Jaspers after a 10-22 record last year, will finish with a record over .500 this upcoming season. Zavier Turner, Zane Waterman, Calvin Crawford and Aaron Walker Jr., the Jaspers’ top four scorers from last year, all return. Steve Masiello’s squad is my MAAC sleeper. Prediction: Loss (12-7, 4-3 overall).

Jan. 21 at Iona

Facing Iona at home or on the road doesn’t have any effect on the outcome. Cluess and his squad will get the win. Let’s hope it won’t be as bad as last year’s 23-point loss. Prediction: Loss (12-8 overall, 4-4 MAAC).

Jan. 27 vs. Niagara

Last season marked the first time the Griffs were swept by the Purple Eagles since the 2011-12 season (Canisius lost three games, including one in the MAAC Tournament). Nasty responses might come my way but Niagara is a team to watch out for. They didn’t lose much, if at all, from last year and head coach Chris Casey has put the pieces together. Matt Scott, Kahlil Dukes, Dominic Robb and company will invade the KAC and take a win back to Monteagle Ridge. Prediction: Loss (12-9 overall, 4-5 MAAC).

Feb. 2 at Marist

Two of the Red Foxes’ top three scorers from last year return, but their top scorer has graduated. Brian Parker (12.9 ppg) and Ryan Funk  (12.4 ppg) will be the players to key in on for Mike Maker’s team. Canisius will avenge their very difficult road loss last year with a win at the McCann Center. Prediction: Win (13-9 overall, 5-5 MAAC).

Feb. 4 at Saint Peter’s

I would like to say that the Peacocks will give the Griffs a battle, especially on their home court, but with all the players they lost from last year it might be tough. Canisius gets the win in Jersey City. Prediction: Win (14-9 overall, 6-5 MAAC).

Feb. 8 vs. Siena

Clareth will be once again the player to key in on for the Saints, but home court will play as a advantage for the Griffs. Prediction: Win (15-9 overall, 7-5 MAAC).

Feb. 10 vs. Quinnipiac

The Bobcats will have to travel from Hamden, Conn. to play the Griffs for the second time this season. As said in their first meeting’s capsule, Quinnipiac will be down. Prediction: Win (16-9 overall, 8-5 MAAC).

Feb. 12 vs. Fairfield

The only regular season meeting between these two teams happens late in the season at the KAC. The Stags have Tyler Nelson, the MAAC’s Preseason Player of the Year, who hit a ridiculous three-pointer at the buzzer last year on the Griffs’ home court to take a win back to the Nutmeg State. Curtis Cobb, the Stags’ second top scorer from last year has transferred to UMass, which helps the Griffs.  Expect a fairly close game between these two teams. Prediction: Win (17-9 overall, 9-5 MAAC).

Feb. 16 at Monmouth

Going to West Long Branch, N.J.  isn’t going to be an easy task for the Griffs. Justin Robinson isn’t there anymore, but Seaborn could be the player that can drop 30+ points, if you allow him. King Rice, by this time, will most likely have his conditioned for another run in the MAAC Tournament. Prediction: Loss (17-10 overall, 9-6 MAAC).

Feb. 18 at Rider

A win is crucial for the Griffs at this point, especially if they’re 9-6 in the conference heading into this matchup. Stevie Jordan will have a very good game and will bring the Broncs to victory. The Broncs’ Zoo (Alumni Gymnasium) will also play a factor in the game, as Rider has won 72 percent of their games at home in the last 20 years. Prediction: Loss (17-11 overall, 9-7 MAAC).

Feb. 21 at Niagara

The Battle of the Bridge is renewed for the second time up at Niagara with a late regular season contest. As said in the previous meeting: Scott, Dukes and Robb will be the players to look out for and will lead the Purple Eagles to victory. Canisius will be playing to two very hostile environments, first with Rider and then with Niagara. Not a good formula. Prediction: Loss (17-12 overall, 9-8 MAAC).

Feb. 25 vs. Marist

Canisius closes the regular season with their second meeting with the Red Foxes. The Griffs will have to stop  bot Parker and Funk, but Canisius closes out  the regular season on a high-note on Hall of Fame Induction and Senior Day. .Prediction: Win (18-12 overall, 10-8 MAAC).

March 1-5

MAAC Tournament

Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y.

Canisius enters Albany with a conference record of 10-8, giving them a fairly good seed. A No. 5 seed would be ideal, getting a bye into the quarterfinals anything below No. 6 and they are in a play-in game. If Canisius has to play a play-in game, they will win that but lose their next game to the higher seed for the third consecutive year.

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  1. Reblogged this on Emyle Watkins and commented:
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