#114 Canisius Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Canisius Golden Griffins

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #114
Conference Rank: #2 MAAC

Canisius Team Page#114 Canisius Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Canisius Basketball Tickets

Last year was quite a rebuilding season for Canisius. A fifth place finish in the MAAC may not sound all that great, but this team was playing better down the stretch. As a result, they earned a berth in the CIT and became the only MAAC team to win a postseason game. They reached the quarterfinals after beating Dartmouth and Bowling Green. There is some rebuilding to do once again, and some of it was unexpected, but Coach Jim Baron proved last year that he can take unproven players and turn them into winners.

2014-15 Record: 18-15, 11-9
2014-15 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Jim Baron
Coach Record: 59-41 at Canisius, 411-396 overall

Who’s Out:
Losing Josiah Heath and Jeremiah Williams to graduation would have been bad enough. Heath led the team with 6.8 rebounds per game and added 9.9 points. He was also the squad’s top shot blocker. Williams was the sixth man during his senior season and was the team’s most efficient three-point shooter. On the year he averaged 8.2 points per game. Jan Grzelinski began the year as the starting point guard, but struggled and is looking for a fresh start elsewhere. But the biggest loss of them all is the transfer of Zach Lewis. Lewis was the only starter back from the 2012-2013 team and he did what he was supposed to do; lead the team in scoring and spearhead the defensive effort on the perimeter. It is a big blow.

Who’s In:
Guards Isaiah Gurley and Raven Owen will find it difficult to earn too many minutes as freshmen. That is in part due to the addition of transfers Malcolm McMillan and Kiefer Douse. McMillan spent three seasons at Central Connecticut State and was always a dangerous point guard. During his career with CCSU, he averaged 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. By his junior season, McMillan was more than just a pure point guard. That year he averaged 10.8 points and was starting to knock down three-pointers with consistency. He should be starting from day one and leading this team on the floor. Kiefer Douse enters from the junior college ranks. He may not be a dominating combo guard, but he can shoot and pass the ball pretty effectively. Ron Gombe will provide Coach Baron with another option in the frontcourt. Gombe is a bit raw, even after spending a year at Valley Forge Military College, but for now he should at least be able to swat away a few shots and grab some rebounds. His offense is alright, but probably needs a little more work before he can score consistently at this level.

Who to Watch:
It seems like Canisius has a bunch of role players back this year. However, some of them will certainly step up and have big years. The frontcourt has options with Phil Valenti, Kevin Bleeker, Jermaine Crumpton and Cassidy Ryan. Valenti, a 6-7 junior, averaged 9.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists a year ago. At 200 pounds, he looks like a power forward and he rebounds like a forward, but Valenti can step outside and knock down a few shots and he is a superb passer for a big man. Bleeker is the bigger body. He is 6-10 and 230 pounds and can certainly throw that weight around in the paint. On the offensive end, Bleeker is tough to guard since he is not opposed to hoisting up a few three-pointers. Jermaine Crumpton was very productive in the scoring column when given the opportunity. The 6-6 forward averaged 7.2 points per game despite playing just 17.6 minutes per game. Ryan was the 11th man in a ten man rotation during his freshman season, but he is a tough player who can work his way into the regular rotation this year.

Final Projection:
Perhaps the biggest seasons will come from the returning wings. Jamal Reynolds and Kassius Robertson both figure to start beside McMillan on the perimeter and both will be asked to boost their scoring output. Reynolds, a 6-4 senior, is one of the better rebounding guards in the nation. He totaled 6.6 per game while playing just a touch over 25 minutes per contest. He also scored 7.1 points per game. Robertson will have to take on more of the shooting this year after connecting on 38.2 percent of his three-point attempts as a freshman. The frontcourt is solid, although not spectacular, so it will be up to Reynolds and Robertson, along with McMillan and Douse, to find ways to score. The talent and athleticism is here to not only compete for a MAAC crown, but potentially even push Iona for the title.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Malcolm McMillan, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Kassius Robertson, Sophomore, Guard, 6.8 points per game
Jamal Reynolds, Senior, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Phil Valenti, Junior, Forward, 9.4 points per game
Kevin Bleeker, Senior, Center, 4.6 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.7 (215th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.9 (78, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.9 (286, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (84, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (153, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.8 (276, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.0 (77, 3)
Rebound Margin: 0.6 (166, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (71, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (112, 1)


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