Back On Track: Men’s Basketball Wins Two In A Row

Todd Garvey

The Colgate men’s basketball team faltered out of the gate early in this 2004-05 season, losing two tough games at the Mohegan Sun Invitational two weeks ago to Central Connecticut, 87-70, and Cal State Fullerton, 75-68. The team bounced back, however, with two straight home wins last week, beating Cornell and Juniata, 70-56 and 70-47 respectively. The Raiders had won two in a row, but a tough Buffalo team ended any hopes for a prolonged winning streak on Wednesday night as the favored Bulls escaped with a 74-62 victory. The Raiders opened the season in New Britain CT on the November 19 against Central Connecticut, out of the Northeast Conference. The Raiders came out strong, only trailing by three points with a minute left in the first half. The Blue Devils then proceeded to explode on a 9-0 run, including a three-pointer at the buzzer. The Blue Devils continued their hot play in the second half, adding to their lead with a quick 5-0 spat. The Raiders went from being down three to down 17 before they could recover. “Anytime you have three guys making their first college starts, things are going to go slow,” senior co-captain Andrew Zidar said. Zidar led the Raiders with 17 points, seven boards and three assists. First-year Kyle Roemer contributed 17 points in his Colgate debut, while sophomore Jon Simon and junior Alvin Reed contributed 10 points each. Demario Johnson led Central Connecticut with a game-high 21 points.The Raiders then faced a very strong Cal State Fullerton team, hailing from the Big West Conference. The Raiders played CSF close the entire game, but were never able to get closer than within five before finally succumbing to the Titans by seven points. Simon exploded for the Raiders with a career-high 24 points in the loss. Reed finished with 14 points and four assists in his first start of the season, while senior co- captain Keith Williams netted 10 points. Bobby Brown led Cal State Fullerton with 21 points. Although the Raiders left Connecticut 0-2, head coach Emmett Davis felt that “we really improved as the weekend progressed.”Heading into the Raiders’ home opener against local rival Cornell, Davis said that defense was the focus. The Raiders had given up an average of 81 points per game in their first two contests. The Raider defense stepped up to the plate, holding the Big Red to only 56 points. Zidar continued his consistent play, bucketing 16 points, while junior Jon Foss scored an unexpected 14 points and Reed added 11. Lenny Collins led Cornell with 15 points.Division III Juniata then made the trip to Cotterell Court on November 27, a choice opponent following the Turkey Day celebrations. The Raiders rolled over Juniata to gain their first win of the season, while holding the Eagles to just 47 points. Zidar again led the Raiders with 14 points and seven boards, while Simon was the only other player in double figures with 10. Everyone on the Raider roster got at least 10 minutes of playing time in the game. Davis felt the game was very beneficial, for he noted that, “it was a great chance to see what a lot of the younger guys could do.” The Raiders attempted to continue their winning ways as they traveled to Buffalo on Wednesday. The Mid-American Conference’s Bulls stampeded out to a five-point halftime lead, ending the game with a 12-point victory. Simon finished his second game of the season with 20 or more, as he netted 20 points. Roemer and Reed each added 12 points. But Buffalo saw five players score in double figures, giving the home team the edge. The Raiders make the annual short trip to the illustrious Carrier Dome on Saturday evening to face the 2003 National Champion Syracuse Orange. The Orange are currently ranked fifth in the country and feature the tandem of preseason first team All- American Hakim Warrick and sharp-shooting guard Gerry McNamara. The Raiders will have to slow the pace of the game and, as Zidar put it, “not get involved in an up and down shoot-out.” The Raider guards will also have to adjust well to shooting within the dome if they hope to stay in the game. “If we defend and execute, we have a chance to stay with them,” Davis said.