Boy, can Reggie Witherspoon coach! He consistently defied expectations while leading the way at UB and did so once again last season at Canisius. The Golden Griffins entered 2017/18 with low expectations, picked to finish in the bottom three in the MAAC.
But they fared much better, finishing with their first 20+ win campaign since 2013/14. In doing so, they went 15-3 in conference play, clinching a tie of their first MAAC regular season title since John Beilein led the way in 1993/94.
It was a tale of two season for Canisius. They got off to a slow start in the non-conference portion of their schedule, limping out to a 4-7 start before hitting their groove. From there, they went 17-3 over their next 20 games, setting themselves up for a strong postseason run.
But that never materialized with Canisius getting shocked by Quinnipiac in the MAAC Tournament Quarterfinals. They followed that up with another disappointing loss in overtime against Jacksonville State in the CBI.
A tough ending to an otherwise terrific season for the Griffs. Outgoing senior Jermaine Crumpton had the best year of his college career, sharing MAAC Player of the Year honors with Niagara University’s Khalil Dukes.
Isaiah Reese joined him on the All-MAAC team, earning first-team honors. With him coming back for his junior season, the future is looking bright for Reggie Witherspoon and company.
Record: 21-12 (15-3)
- Tied for MAAC regular season title with Rider
- First time winning/sharing MAAC regular season title since 1993/94
- CBI appearance marked 5th postseason appearance in six years
- Crumpton became first Griff to win MAAC Player of the Year honors since Billy Baron in 2013/14
Expectations in Buffalo are high for Canisius this season. The Griffs are picked to finish second in the MAAC behind Rider with junior guard Isaiah Reese bringing home MAAC Preseason Player of the Year honors.
As a result, Reggie Witherspoon has given his quad a tougher non-conference slate to prepare for the postseason. Canisius opens the year on the road against a Bucknell team coming off a NCAA Tournament appearance last season, albeit minus many of their key pieces who have graduated.
From there, the Griffs will take on Florida State before battling the defending NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats as part of the Advocate Invitational. They’re also guaranteed a matchup against either Memphis or Oklahoma State as part of the tournament.
Add in their annual Big 4 games against St. Bonaventure and Buffalo and you can see how it’s going to be tough sledding for Canisius early on. However, that’ll be helpful experience for the Griffs heading into MAAC play as they look to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995/96.
This is one of the most talented rosters the Griffs have sported in years starting with the sharp shooting Isaiah Reese. He’s coming off a huge sophomore season in which he averaged just shy of 17 ppg while leading the Canisius in rebounds (5.8 rebs), assists (4.7 ast) and steals (2.2 stl).
He’s joined by defending MAAC Rookie of the Year Takal Molson. The Buffalo native wasted no time adjusting to the college game as freshman averaging 12.6 ppg.
Malik Johnson is another name to keep an eye out on with him playing major minutes for the Griffs as a sophomore. Look for him to contribute at an even higher level this season.
Outlook: 19-11 (13-5), 2nd in MAAC
Starters: (2017/18 Stats)
G – Malik Johnson: 7.8 ppg, 3.3 rebs, 4.6 ast
G – Isaiah Reese: 16.9 ppg, 5.8 rebs, 4.7 ast
G – Takal Molson: 12.6 ppg, 5.0 rebs, 2.6 ast
F – Jibreel Faulkner: 5.6 ppg, 2.2 rebs, 0.8 ast
F – Marcale Lotts: 1.8 ppg, 1.9 rebs, 0.2 ast
G – Jordan Henderson: (Incoming recruit)
G – Sam Rautins: (Incoming recruit)
G – Shaquille Evans: 0.0 ppg, 0.3 rebs, 0.0 ast
G – Jonathan Sanks: 5.5 ppg, 1.5 rebs, 1.0 ast
G – Gianni Ford: (JUCO Transfer)
F – Jalanni White: 2.2 ppg, 1.6 rebs, 0.3 ast
F – Scott Hitchon: 1.6 ppg, 1.1 rebs, 0.1 ast