Despite a new team and a 2-2 start to the season, Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Rejniak is ready to lock and load for winter 2012-13.
“This isn’t a rebuilding year, it’s a reloading year,” Rejniak said. “Rebuilding means we reached our goals last year and are starting from the ground up. We fell short last year, but did well with what we had. This year, we are better equipped.”
After a 2011-12 season that saw an overall record of 9-17 and a SUNYAC record of 6-12, the Hawks have opened up their season with a solo win, two losses and individual success. During the team’s overtime loss home opener to Mount Saint Mary College, fourth-year forward Matt Devine and fourth-year guard Shereef Taylor tallied 1,000 career points.
“Reaching my 1,000 point was a really special honor. It felt really good to get that weight off my shoulders so me and my team can continue to play our style of basketball,” Devine said.
The loss to Mount Saint Mary was the team’s second loss of the season after a 69-90 defeat by Nazareth College and a 99-76 triumph over St. Joseph’s College during the Nazareth Tournament from Nov. 16 to 17.
With only nine roster players at the end of last year’s season, this season’s complete 16- player roster is a change that Rejniak said will be a confirmed asset for success.
Once a running team relying on key players like Devine and alumnus forward/guard Harris Wichard to be present on the court for a full 40 minutes, Rejniak also said an array of new and old faces gives the Hawks the ability to transform their game into a “more pressing style.”
Along with Devine and Taylor, Rejniak cited fourth-year guard Shalik Jenkins, third-year forward/guard Taylor Sowah and second-year guard transfer Joe Hulbert as standout players who have and will continue to aid in the later season success.
The team’s six first-years all provide the promise of great achievements for the future of the Hawks. Although they are new to the program, the transition of Rejniak’s first recruiting class from high school to collegiate hoops has shown to be successful.
“Off the court we’re like a family. It’s going to take us a little while to fully connect on the court, but when we do, it’s going to be dangerous,” first-year forward Alex Perlman said.
Along with continuing to build on-court chemistry, the Hawks look to use top to bottom talent and balance their strong offense with an equally dominant defense.
“This year I believe we can go very far into the postseason. I really believe we can compete and win the SUNYAC championship and make a run into the NCAA tournament,” Devine said.
Standing in the way of this is the Hawks’ 18 conference games, including those against intraconference rivals SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oswego and SUNY Plattsburgh.
With no SUNYAC sleepers foreseen within the season, Rejniak predicts a challenging but prosperous outcome to their journey to the SUNYAC Championship.
“You have to play the best to be the best,” Rejniak said. “And we are trying to be the best.”
The Hawks take to the road to face SUNY Fredonia on Friday, Nov. 30 and Buffalo State on Saturday, Dec. 1 before returning to New Paltz to challenge Eastern Connecticut State on Tuesday, Dec. 4.