BUFFALO, N.Y.-St. Joe's senior Kyle Briggs gets right to the point about Saturday's game against Canisius telling Two On Your Side's Stu Boyar "this emotion is the biggest one of all. This one is for the league championship so we know the effect this game can have and so we want to go in and play a good game and come out with the "w."
Briggs, now a senior has some painful memories of what happened last year. "Last year as a junior we lost to them in the Manhattan Cup and it was heartbreaking seeing the seniors on the team crying and upset. So its just something we want to do for the school and for ourselves. We've come a long way this year so its what we want to do for ourselves." Crusaders junior Matt Macdonald told Stu "its already a big game as it is just adding a championship to it will make it that much more fun. We'll be ready to go so it should be fun."
Canisius is coming off a huge overtime win Thursday over Bishop Timon. Coach Kyle Husband told Stu "yesterday was a crazy atmosphere it was a great basketball game. These guys were psyched in the locker room after the game and they were already talking about tomorrow. The one thing you always have to be worried about is overlooking games so I'm glad it was such a big game yesterday so we couldn't overlook it. It doesn't get any bigger than tomorrow." St. Joe's is coming off their first league loss of the season, a 51-50 stunner against St. Francis. Briggs told Stu "we learned that we're not untouchable. We're touchable, we can lose and its brought us closer together as a team."
In their first meeting last month the Marauders won 78-72. St. Joe's big man Reggie Agbeko spent considerable time on the bench with foul trouble. The Marauders know a huge key will be finding a way to slow down the Crusaders transition game. Head coach Mark Simon telling Stu "we need to contain them. We have to stop the transition game we can't allow them to run off on us on big runs where we fall behind eight or ten points early. That's happened over the past couple of years so keep the game low scoring if we can and keep it close in their building because they can run you out pretty quick." Husband told Stu "we have to play and be who we are we have to defend. The last game we didn't defend at all. St. Joe's played a great game. We let them score 78 points which is just too many and they share the ball they've got great team chemistry so we need to defend better than we did last game and we need to get out in transition and get some of these guys where they are best."
St. Joe's Louis Oliveri told Stu "we have to shut down their guards. They can shoot really well. If they get going hit the three balls it could be a long night. Matt Hart is a great shooter. I think Kyle will defend him, he's one of our best defenders so we'll see how what Kyle does with him." For the Crusaders one focal point will be senior Reggie Agbeko. Matt Hart told Stu "it all starts with rebounding. We gotta box out Reggie out, box everyone out actually. We gotta run play our game and then make sure once we get a bucket, even if we miss we gotta get right back on defense and do it again. We thought if we held Reggie under 15, hold him to 12, I think we thought we'd easily come away with a victory. Obviously that didn't happen. I think we underestimated the other players on the team. I think going into tomorrow we know they are good players but I think again we're going to try to hold Reggie under 15 and if that happens with our good defense that we've been playing I think we can win." Agbeko returned the compliment to Hart. "We have to get somebody on their point guard from the end of the court to the middle. Somebody has to be on him to stop him from being comfortable. And we gotta press them a little bit from halfcourt down to the lower block so that's what we gotta do."
Tipoff is scheduled for 3-pm at Canisius. The usual packed house is expected.