Men’s Basketball Looks For A Rebound

Photo by Holly Lipka.

The Men’s basketball team will look to rebound from a seven-game losing streak, when they get back to game play in three weeks.

Despite their skid, Hawks Head Coach Mike Rejniak and the players remain optimistic, he said.

“I firmly believe this is my most talented team that I’ve had since I’ve been here, but talent only gets you so far,” Rejniak said. “My goal is to get them to play together on both ends of the court and when that happens, we’ll be very good.”

On Friday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m., the Hawks began State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) play as they fell to SUNY Plattsburgh 81-71 at the Hawk Center. Although the Hawks and the Cardinals shot nearly identical 41.9 percent and 41.8 percent respectively, the Cardinals held a 48-36 advantage in rebounds, capitalizing with 19 second-chance points.

“We haven’t played up to our potential yet,” Rejniak said. “I think we did against Plattsburgh for about 35 minutes and then we kind of panicked in the last five minutes and that cost us.”

The Hawks came out of the gates strong, starting with a 3-pointer by fourth-year co-Captain R.J. Rosa just 12 seconds into the game. Rosa would end up with a game total of 10 points as well as grabbing three steals on the night.

About 20 seconds after Rosa’s basket, third-year forward Brandon Guest had a successful dunk in the paint.

The Hawks continued their run to a 14-4 lead punctuated by a Guest layup after the first five minutes of play.

Shortly after, Plattsburgh’s second-year forward Brandon Tolliver sank two free-throws to decrement the Hawks’ lead to 10, their final double-digit lead of the night.

Scoring for the Hawks and the Cardinals went back and forth for several minutes, but this trend was ended with a Cardinal seven point streak ending with a layup by fourth-year guard and forward Kyle Richardson and a New Paltz timeout. Richardson would score the game-high of 30 points while also grabbing 18 rebounds for the Cardinals.

The Hawks then went on a 6-1 scoring streak leading 26-18 with 7:28 left in the first half. However, the Cardinals ended the half with a 17-13 run to end the first half with New Paltz leading by the small margin of 39-35.

Plattsburgh then obtained their first lead of the game about halfway through the second half, making the score 52-47. Shortly after, two threes by fourth-year co-Captain Keegan Donovan and third-year forward Andrew Senuik put the Hawks back ahead by one point. Then a mid-range jumper by Cardinal first-year forward Jonathan Patron would return the lead to Plattsburgh. Donovan would lead the Hawks in scoring for the night with 22 points along with six assists, two steals, two rebounds and one block.

The lead changed again when Hawks first-year guard and forward Nick Paquette hit a 3-pointer. He would score a total of 12 points, shooting 4-of-5 with 3-of-4 beyond the arc.

Plattsburgh then went on a 15-4 run, forcing the Hawks to foul, and consequently hit 6-of-7 at the free-throw line to seal the 10-point win. Second-year guard Eli Bryant was another key player for the Cardinals netting 16 points and five assists.

The following day, Paquette scored a game-high and career-high of 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a 69-54 losing effort against SUNY Potsdam.

“Against Potsdam we got away from who we were,” Rejniak said. “We got a little too individual on both sides of the court and we got away from the things that made us so successful as a team.”

The Bears led the whole game, leading in rebounds by a margin of 50-39 and turning 16 Hawk turnovers into 16 points. The Bears also outshot the Hawks with a percentage of 38.1 percent compared to New Paltz’s 29.8 percent.

Potsdam started off with strong shooting and quickly gained a 14-3 lead early in the game. The Hawks gained some momentum and went on a seven point run, punctuated by a Paquette layup, to bring the score to 14-10.

The Hawks scored their last points of the half with a little over a minute remaining when fourth-year co-Captain Alex Perlman grabbed a rebound which transitioned into a fast-break dunk by Guest. Perlman would grab nine rebounds for the Hawks that game.

First half scoring ended with a 3-pointer by Potsdam’s fourth-year guard Joe Estramonte with 22 seconds remaining in the half, bringing their lead to 33-23 at the half.

After Potsdam first-year guard and forward Dante Langley made a layup off the first possession of the half, the Hawks would cut their deficit to single digits with a Guest basket and two free-throws by Donovan. Langley led the Bears in scoring with 14 points and this is the closest the Hawks would be for the remainder of the game.

“The best thing for us right now is to forget,” Rosa said. “We battled in some very tight, heart- breaking losses which can stay with you for a while as a player. The only way we can improve is if we put those losses behind us and take each day one by one.”

Some other highlights late in the half included a missed Paquette 3-pointer turning into a tip-in by Senuik with 8:16 remaining in regulation time and a steal by Hawks third-year guard Eric Regenbogen transitioning to a fast-break dunk by Paquette with two and half minutes to go.

Donovan was a key player for the Hawks against Potsdam netting 12 points and snatching two steals. Rosa and first-year guard Matt Misser also added two steals apiece to the team total. Key players for the Bears included Estramonte and second-year forward Josh Blagrove scoring 13 points each. Blagrove also grabbed nine rebounds for the Bears. Also contributing was Potsdam’s first-year forward Nate Wyatte with four assists and eight rebounds.

“We’ve got to just take it game by game, step by step, day by day, trying to get better and it starts with Springfield,” Rejniak said.

In their next game, the Hawks dropped a close game to Rejniak’s alma mater Springfield College 77-69 on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

The Hawks, who have a 1-7 overall record will next travel to Union, New Jersey to play Kean University at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. In the meantime, Rejniak said he hopes to build the team’s chemistry off the court and incorporate more team-oriented drills in practice in order to achieve the positive outlook he foresees for the remainder of the season.