Queens College Basketball is all about finishing strong
As we enter the final month of conference play, the Queens College men’s basketball team has had a season of ups and downs, to say the least. Currently sitting in the seven seed in the ECC, the Knights will need to apply lessons learned during their tumultuous season to compete at the highest level come March.
The first month of basketball for the young Knights was very much a battle against the learning curve. With two seniors followed by seven underclassmen playing big minutes, the average timespan for a young player to get his college bearings was dramatically shortened for Queens. The Knights first had to understand how to defend at the next level, whether they were going against a high powered offense beyond the arc, or a physically demanding team on the interior.
“Its been the main point of focus,” said head coach Matt Collier when asked about his defensive improvements in January. “This conference has teams that play small, and other teams attack you with bigger lineups, so we have tried to recruit that way, and allow versatility in our approach.”
Defense hasn’t been the only adversity for these young Knights, as offensive production is always coming from a new face. Queens is still figuring out their identity on offense, but one thing for sure is it can come from many places. Between leading scorers Simon Green and Tyrone Hall, as well as freshmen Tyrese Crosdale and Elijah Bovell are all capable of putting up 20 points on any given night. Issac Grant has also proved to be an interior threat, putting up big double doubles throughout the year.
“My expectation for all my guys hasn’t changed,” says Collier. “I ask each player to give everything he has each night on the floor, and the rest will take care of itself.” “We know we can score the basketball, and have plenty of options to go to. So as long as the effort is there, we will continue to get better.”
We’ve watched first hand the improvements the Knights have made to this point. It started with a huge non conference win over NE-10 opponent Adelphi, followed by winning three out of four games during a two-week span in January, had the Knights playing inspired basketball. What was most impressive for a young team that relies on offensive explosions, was their win over Mercy. The powerful display on the defensive side of the ball, was a direct result of Queens new found mentality.
Coach Collier has also treated defense like a chess match, in always changing up the look, while keeping opponents on their toes. Whether its man to man defense followed by pressing at three quarter court, or switching from a Syracuse style 2-3 zone to a 1-3-1 zone, the Knights have helped themselves on the perimeter. Opponents have no longer taken consistent open shots from beyond the arc, and its a direct reflection of the effort of the Knights.
“Its exactly why I love being a coach in this conference,” says Collier. “These other coaches constantly push you to make timely adjustments, and present a new game plan, and I have enjoyed every minute of the competitive nature on the coaching end.”
The season really came to a head on January 24th against preseason top 10 in the country St. Thomas Aquinas. This game was televised on ESPN 3 and the first national stage for the young Queens Knights. With STAC being a clear favorite, Queens controlled the tempo of play for the first 30 minutes. It was a three point game in the final 10 minutes, when STAC for the first time all night, gave themselves a 10-point cushion. Green led the Knights with 11 points, and Hall and Gorski had eight each, respectively. One of the hardest fought games by the Knights, will definitely be a confidence booster heading into the home stretch.
For Coach Collier, the mindset is simple. The more his team can earn on their own now, the better they will be in long run. Nothing this season has been easy, but we are witnessing a young and very dangerous team come together.
After another grueling part of the Knights schedule, they look to finish strong in the final six games, starting with NYIT on January 7th.