Men’s Basketball Owns the West Coast

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

The Men’s Basketball team recorded a pefect start to the 2013-14 season at the Lee Fulmer Tip-Off Classic in Redlands, CA. last weekend.

The Hawks narrowly defeated Whittier College 69-66 on Nov. 15, before topping The University of Redlands, 82-60 on Nov. 16. Third-year Captain Taylor Sowah and fourth-year guard Andrew Joseph were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Head Coach Mike Rejniak said the first game against Whittier, where the Hawks trailed the Poets 35-32 at the half, was a “grind” — a very demanding first test for the team and a true testament to their perseverance.

The win gave the team confidence and got rid of the team’s jitters of starting a season before the second game against the Bulldogs, Rejniak said.  The team posted a 23-point lead in the first half that helped them keep the momentum on their side and defeat the defending Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion.

“We were all pretty pumped about having the opportunity to travel across the country to play, although our coach made it very clear that this was a business trip, not a vacation,” second-year forward Alex Perlman said.

Rejniak said the trip provided the team with a unique experience and allowed the Hawks to compete against successful teams with a different style of play prominent on the west coast that they are not accustomed to.

“The teams were more of a run-and-gun style teams,” Sowah said. “They were more fast paced and shooting teams, but it was nothing we weren’t ready for.”

Perlman agreed, and said both Whittier and Redlands ran a “Grinnell Offense,” where the offense attempts to get a shot up as quickly as possible. Although this can lead to high-scoring games, it can also lead to the majority of attempts being low-quality. The team used this to their advantage, putting pressure on the offense and making sure to secure rebounds.

Rejniak said although the team lost two 1,000 point players in Matt Devine and Shereef Taylor, the first two games of the season have shown him that the Hawks don’t need a set of prominent scorers to be successful.

“This team has a team mentality,” Rejniak said. “It can be anybody’s night. That’s what makes us dangerous.”

Rejniak cites first-year forward Andrew Seniuk, first-year guard Kewan Beebe and transfer third-year guard/forward R.J. Rosa as the three new additions to the team he can foresee making a major impact this season on the court.

“And those are just the new players to the program,” Rejniak said. “Any given night we could have five guys putting up double digits.”

Looking forward, Rejniak said the team will keep emphasizing on diving on balls and capitalizing on rebounds, the team’s “trademarks.” The Hawks will look to decrease turnovers and keep free throw numbers strong as they continue through the season and begin competing against conference teams.

“Our biggest competition this year I would say is Brockport and Plattsburgh, for the simple fact that they are fastpaced teams and very versatile,” Sowah said.  “I’m looking forward to playing them and working on our ways to beat them.”

The Hawks will take on Vassar College in the season home opener, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Hawk Center.