Deep-Six: Men’s Basketball Has Worst Start Since 1996

Paul Kasabian

Are there any positives that come out of an 0-6 start to a season? In Colgate’s case, there is one. Colgate started 0-6 in the 1994-95 season, but rebounded to win the Patriot League title and grab an NCAA tournament berth. Granted, that team arguably had the two best players in Colgate history in the program’s all-time leading scorer Tucker Neale and current NBA center Adonal Foyle, but regardless, the Raiders are still 0-0 in Patriot League play.

However, the results at this current moment are simply ugly. Since the November 19 edition of The Maroon-News, Colgate has lost 76-63 to TCU, 69-60 to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 66-65 to previously winless St. Francis of New York, and 92-58 to No. 7 Syracuse. The Raiders are now 0-6 for the first time since 1996.

On Monday, November 23, TCU hosted Colgate in Fort Worth, Texas for a consolation round match-up of the National Invitational Tournament Tip-off. In this contest, TCU began the game with a 19-2 run and never looked back. Colgate cut TCU’s lead to as little as eight points in the second half, making the score 62-54 with just over five minutes left, but TCU pulled away late. Free throws partially did the Raiders in, as Colgate went just 8-21 from the charity stripe. Sophomore forward Yaw Gyawu scored a career-high 25 points on 12-16 shooting. Ronnie Moss led TCU with 20 points and nine assists. From Colgate’s perspective, the story of this game though was junior shooting guard Mike Venezia, who was injured in this game.

“Venezia was trying to take a charge and a TCU player sat right on his foot,” Head Coach Emmett Davis said. “He got a fracture of a bone in his foot. The goal is to have him back by Patriot League play.”

Patriot League play begins on January 9 against Army.

Colgate played UW-Milwaukee the next night in its last NIT game and jumped out to a 26-23 halftime lead. Milwaukee then posted a relentless 46-point effort in the second half, including a 25-11 run to start and put the game away. Roemer followed up an 18-point outing against TCU by scoring a season-high 26 points on the night. Three Milwaukee players scored in double digits, led by Ricky Franklin with 19.

On Saturday, November 30, Colgate lost a game it should have won against St. Francis. Leading 33-17 late in the first half, the Raiders were firing on all cylinders, especially Gyawu, who had 13 points up until that moment. The Terriers cut the lead to nine points at intermission, and Colgate took a 36-27 lead into halftime. The Raiders stretched their advantage to 53-40 after a layup from sophomore forward Sterling Melville with 12:01 remaining, but the Terriers took over at that point, outscoring Colgate 26-12. St. Francis held a 64-62 advantage late, but Gyawu put in a layup as the shot clock expired with under one minute remaining. The Terriers came up empty on their next possession, and first-year point guard Mitch Rolls was fouled as he went for a loose ball. Rolls made one-of-two free throws, and St. Francis had possession with the shot clock turned off. With only four team fouls, Colgate smartly fouled St. Francis twice, and the Terriers had to inbound the ball from the baseline with 3.2 seconds remaining. Cadell inbounded the ball to Perunicic, who passed back to Cadell in the right corner. Cadell then made a fallaway two-pointer with two Raiders in his face as time expired, giving St. Francis its first win of the year. Gyawu scored 22 to lead Colgate, and Roemer had 18. Kayode Ayeni scored 22 for St. Francis.

“Cadell made a great shot,” Davis said. “We talked about that exact play they were going to run. I thought [senior forward Ben Jonson] did a great job and had a hand in [Cadell’s] face. Cadell made it fading away, and he missed a bunch during the game. It’s a shame to lose the game like that, but it wasn’t the play of the game. At the end of the first half, where we had some foul trouble, we lost the lead a little bit. We had control of game in the second half, but they had a good stretch of defense and they did good job of dribble penetration. They got more physical defensively, and that made it difficult for us to run offensive sets, they got back into it. We showed good heart during the game; it’s tough one to lose because literally led for 38 minutes of the game.”

Last Monday’s game against Syracuse was no contest. The athletic Orange showed why they will be contending for a national title in March by dominating Colgate all night, especially Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson, who accrued 19 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds in just 23 minutes. Johnson, in fact, matched Colgate’s entire scoring output in the first half, as he scored 16 points in a first half that saw Syracuse outscore Colgate 47-16. Rolls led Colgate with eight points and six assists. Roemer and Gyawu also had eight points, while sophomore center Nick Pascale, Ben Jonson and junior point guard Joe Hoban each had seven points. The Orange outrebounded Colgate 42-29, dished 35 assists, committed seven fewer turnovers and shot 21 percent better from the field.

“They’re going to give lot of people trouble,” Davis said. “They have much better chemistry than last year and share the ball better. I think Johnson is better than any guy they had last year. Their big guys have gotten better… I think they are a better team than last year.”

Rolls, who started at point guard, was arguably Colgate’s most impressive player on this night.

“He’s starting to grasp what we’re trying to do offensively, though he needs to know what we doing on defense on the floor,” Coach Davis said. “He handled pressure well against UConn and in the second half against Syracuse he created opportunities for others. He has a good feel for the game and can knock down the open three. He is playing pretty well, and still has a lot of room for improvement.”

Colgate will host the University of Maine tonight at 7 p.m. before traveling to Rutgers University on Sunday afternoon.