Men’s Basketball gears up for 2018-2019

2018-19 Buffalo State Men’s Basketball Preview

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Men’s Basketball gears up for 2018-2019

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Emmanuel Rodriguez, Associate Sports Editor

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The SUNY Buffalo State Men’s basketball team is gearing up for another season as many new faces appear for the team.

The Bengals went 9-15 overall last season and missed the playoffs after posting a 5-13 record in SUNYAC play.

“I know we were not that good last season,” said, Bengals’ head coach Fasri Ansari, who’s entering his 14th season at the helm. “We have more new players than we have returning players,” Ansari added.

The Bengals do enter the 2018-19 season relatively young as there are no seniors on the roster this season.

For Buffalo State, they’ll have to begin the post-Mike Henry era as the 13th all-time scorer in Buffalo State history has graduated. Henry averaged about 14 points per game to go along with seven rebounds in his career, which spanned 90 games. Last season, Henry took over the leadership role and averaged 18 points a game and eight rebounds a game.

“It’s tough to replace him,” sophomore guard Sheldon Adams said of Henry. “We need a lot of people to step up and score in place of his points. He contributed a lot last year with scoring, defense, passing, we just got to step up as a team.”

Adams, one of the key returners for the Bengals, averaged 14.5 points per game last season in 29.8 minutes per game and was named the team’s rookie of the year last year.

“I’m feeling like I’m one of the guys that’s going to need to step up in place of Mike Henry in the sense of a leader,” Adams added. “Coach Ansari just wants me to go out there and play the best I can, so I’m going to do that to keep the coaches happy and keep my teammates happy and win games.”

Other key returners for Buffalo State include junior guards Von Daniel, Dom Grayer and Ryniek Holloway, all of whom were not on the roster last season.

“Von, Dom, Ryniek all had a year off to grow up. Getting Dom and Ryniek back is great since they’ve had great sophomore years for us,” Ansari said.

Holloway, along with returning junior guard Steven Calvo and junior transfer forward Kay Grant were named captains of the Bengals.

“They’re more experienced, they have more leadership and have different personalities,” Ansari said. “They’ll help in terms of doing the things and understanding what we want as coaches. It’s big when we’re not around, whether in the locker room or when they’re just together.”

Kay Grant, a native of Brooklyn last played for Sullivan Community College and had been in contact with the Bengals for quite some time. The coaching staff believes he will add versatility on the inside along with his toughness and great personality.

“Henry was our biggest and strongest guy, but he wasn’t a post threat like Kay,” Ansari said. “If he were a couple inches taller, he wouldn’t be playing for us.”

Ansari also mentioned he wishes to see more production from junior guard Zak Ciezki and junior transfer guard Delen Ramovic.

“Zak Ciezki, a local player, has been doing well in practice. He’s gaining more confidence,” Ansari said. “We have a little more depth. Delen Ramovic, a transfer from Hostos Community College in the Bronx can shoot it and play inside. He’s been out for over a year, but we’re expecting good things from him. He scored a lot in high school. He had an injury in college and played only one year at Hostos.”

The program is realizing the direction that the sport is taking as they begin to recruit and look for more players who can shoot it out the gym. Adams, Grayer, Ciezki and Ramovic can easily become those players that Ansari is searching for. For the Bengals, chemistry will be vital this year.

“Comradery last year was a hard mix with young players and some immaturity and no experience,” Ansari said. “Everyone has to be supportive of one another, we have to look at one another as if we’re family and the cause has to be greater than the individual.”

“We’re all brothers,” Adams said. “Like LeBron James said, ‘when you fall down, your brother is going to come and pick you up.’ That’s what we want to follow so we can keep that teammate chemistry up.”

Being complacent isn’t what’s on the mind of the young Bengals.

“My expectations are always to win a championship,” Ansari said. “I would never think anything else. I don’t care what other people say about the team. I know we have the talent, we have the ability, the guys work, if we get together, we can get there.”

The vibe is the same for the players in the locker room.

“Championships,” Adams echoed. “I want to make the tournament. I know we all want to make the tournament.”

The Bengals’ season is set to tip off on Nov. 17 against the John Carroll Blue Streaks in the Cole’s Classic. They’ll begin SUNYAC play on the road on Dec. 1 against the Fredonia Blue Devils.

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