Photo by Taylor Jo Gillen / Beaver Beat
By Curtis Ashley
There was barely any time to turn things around, regarding their level of play or they’re ability to finish. And ultimately it cost them any chance they had of moving forward in the CUNYAC Tournament. The City College Men’s basketball team ends their 2015-2016 season with a 74-71 loss to York College in the first round.
This is the teams fourth straight year appearing in the playoffs but being unable to come out with at least one win. This is the first season that it has happened in their own gym. Many may look at this and not give it too much thought, but this shows some sign of growth in the team. For the guys to have home-court advantage means they were the higher seed, something City hasn’t been able to call themselves in a very long time. Their appearance in the playoffs as the #6 seed itself is due to the season that the guys were able to put together. They ended the regular season 13-12 overall, with a conference record of 7-8. Compared to the 8-17, 7-19, and 10-16 overall records of the previous three seasons, this season has been more than a turning point.
“I told the guys in the locker room, we’re thirteen-and-thirteen. I thought we deserved a better fate than what we’ve done. I really thought this year that this team really turned a corner. I think we’ve shown some significant improvement,” Head Coach Tom Green said in a post-game interview. “I feel sorry for the guys in the locker room because our record doesn’t really reflect a big-time turnaround. But I’m happy with these guys, I’m proud of these guys.”
In their last game, it was those who put the team on their back the entire season who came up big. David Solano had the game-high 17 points, off of 3-of-7 shooting from the perimeter. Khalil Hamer had 16 points, along with four rebounds, four assists, and eight steals. Robert Dionisio and Mark Richards had 12 points each. Dionisio had six rebounds and an assist, while Richards had five rebounds and a block.
The team played the same level of basketball that they did all season. The team shot .444 against York, while averaging .440 for the season. City shot .556 from the foul line on Thursday, and averaged .664. Their numbers weren’t the issue, and they hadn’t been all season. The issue with City has been their inability to finish off teams.
Tied game. Fifty-four points for both CCNY and York, with only 6:34 left in the game. After having some control of the game in the first half, even going into the locker room with a 37-31 lead, City still found a way to let the game get out of their hands. York went on a 9-0 run, but after some missed shots at the line and some good defensive stands, City had one last chance at redemption. Down by three, Hamer takes the last-second, long-range shot to get City to over time, and the rest is history.
“A lot of it was just intensity. We didn’t have that intensity. We should’ve had that intensity the whole second half. We kinda led up a little bit to end the first half and it carried over to the second half,” Solano says, regarding the teams inability to get the win.
“We’re just trying to scramble, we’re trying to press, we’re down a few points. Looking to get steal any way we can,” Green said. “We can’t dig a little bit of hole like we did in the last four, five minutes of the game and expect to win those kind of games.”
In some ways, it might be good that their season ended when it did, because the team might have continued to plummet. The games lost by a manageable margin were becoming more and more frequent. The team now has time to think about all that went wrong, while building on top of what went right.
“It was a bad ending. It’s not something we wanted especially for our senior Blake. It’s not something we want to end the season with. He came out big for us in this game, and it’s something we really wanted to push forward with him,” Richards said. “Moving forward into next season, it’s our same team, we’re just gonna come even stronger.”
“We have the talent in that locker room to come back next year and make a significant change in a thirteen-and-thirteen record. I think we can come back and win eighteen or nineteen games next year. I think that’s a very real possibility,” Green said.
A lot of optimism from Tom Green, supported by his players. Only time will tell if the team will learn from their mistakes.