Following a season in which its record didn’t impress and it lost arguably its best player, the College’s men’s basketball team started this season on a fairly positive note, going 1-2 in its first two games.
After a disappointing 4-21 season last year, the Lions are now fielding a very young team, with many freshman and sophomores getting significant minutes. The team opened with a loss to New York University in the NYU Tournament, 84-66, but bounced back the next day by defeating Colby College 59-45.
“It is nice to get a win at any time of the season, especially with a young team with different players from last year,” Head Coach Kelly Williams said. “If we can get a couple more wins before the first semester ends, it will go a long way with our young players’ confidence and knowing how to win.”
Freshman forward/center Kyle Cancillieri has helped the young team get its footing, anchoring the middle in the absence of 2011 grad Steve Siracusa. Cancillieri has managed 10.7 points per game as well as 9.3 rebounds, similar to what Siracusa brought to the table last year.
“It is nice to see (Cancillieri) get off to a good start for us,” Williams said. “One of the areas that I was concerned with was filling Sircusa’s production over the last couple of years for us. (Cancillieri) is doing an outstanding job rebounding and producing points in the paint. (His) strengths consist of his athletic ability and his ability to score around the basket. He is probably the most athletic forward that this program has had over the last several years.”
Along with Cancillieri, junior guard Donovan Smalls has continued his strong play, and other young players have stepped up as well. Sophomore forward Alex Fox has averaged 8.3 ppg, good for second on the team, and sophomore guard Matthew Rista has averaged eight ppg, which is tied with Smalls for third on the team.
“Right now our newcomers have found a way to contribute to our start, which is a plus for our team,” Williams said. “It takes some of the pressure off our key players, especially early in the season. It also gives our newcomers an opportunity to find their role in our system. For us to be successful this season, we are going to have to use our depth, and at this point (freshman Emmanuel) Matlock, Fox, Cancilleri and (sophomore Skyelar) Ettin are maximizing their minutes.”
The team’s home opener will take place Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. against Rowan University.