The Red Foxes will travel to Buffalo on Friday night to open up conference play against the Canisius Golden Griffins. Marist is coming off a two-game sweep of the Binghamton Bearcats last weekend, while Canisius has yet to play a game this season. Head coach John Dunne will look to take advantage of that rustiness as he prepares his team for another test early in the season.
It is important to note that Marist dropped both of their conference games versus Canisius last season, including a heartbreaking loss on the road. When the Red Foxes played the Golden Griffins in Buffalo, they had trouble closing the game out. The team led by as much as nine points in the second half but they went on to lose by one thanks to a last-second three.
How successful the Red Foxes are this season will come down to how good of a job they do closing out games. Michael Cubbage, Braden Bell, Ricardo Wright and Raheim Sullivan are all averaging double-digit points per game but who they get offense from late in games is the biggest question that needs to be answered.
One positive we saw from the Red Foxes last weekend was the balanced scoring attack. During stretches of both games, multiple players showed the ability to create good looks at the basket for themselves.
Sullivan was one player who stood out in the game against Binghamton on Sunday afternoon. The 6-foot-1 guard led the team with 13 points, showing the ability to drive to the basket and hit contested looks over taller defenders.
Another good sign for Marist was the production from center Jordan Jones in the second contest versus Binghampton. After dealing with foul trouble against the size and length of the Bearcats on opening day, he came back and played much better on Sunday.
In the second game of the season, Jones scored 12 points on 5-7 shooting from the field. He also had an impact on the game in other ways, picking up six rebounds and three blocks as well. If Jones and fellow big man Victor Enoh can work off each other and impact the game inside, that can go a long way for this team on both sides of the ball.
One question mark for John Dunne’s team going into this weekend is the health of guard Matt Herasme, who missed both games last weekend with a wrist injury. If the 6-foot-3 junior is able to play versus Canisius, that would be a massive benefit for the team. Herasme was the team’s second-leading scorer with 9.0 points per game while shooting a team-best 39.9 percent on 3-pointers.
Defensively, the Red Foxes will look to contain preseason All-MAAC Second Team nominee Majesty Brandon. The 6-foot guard averaged 13.9 points per game on 41.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three last season, so the Marist guards will look to limit his production.
After finishing 6-14 in conference play last season, the Red Foxes will look to get off to a strong start versus the Golden Griffins. Marist has the advantage that they already have played two games this season, and that will help them defeat Canisius in their first matchup this weekend.
Score Prediction: Marist over Canisius 68 to 63
Edited by Sam DiGiovanni
Featured image from Canisius Athletics