When taking a first glance at the Canisius basketball roster, it’s easy for the experience of the upperclassmen to jump off the page. There are three seniors with 88 or more games played and three juniors with at least 55 games played.
With all of that on-court experience has developed the confidence to be the leaders. It is a process that started following last season, developed throughout the summer and carried into preseason practices.
“I feel like the veterans, especially this senior group, has really taken a leadership role in the big picture. They really understand the responsibility of becoming a veteran,” Canisius coach Terry Zeh said. “Now, they really want to make a difference on the basketball court. Their ability to relate to all the different classes has really helped us.”
The Golden Griffins are looking for that team cohesion to carry over to the basketball court. The team finished with 12 wins last year and in a tie for sixth place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Now the challenge comes for the leaders of this team, the senior class who has been model citizens off the court, to find that same level of achievement on the court.
“We haven’t had the team success that we have wanted the past couple of years. We have talked a lot with our seniors about how do you want to finish this off,” Zeh said. “Do you want to finish this off just as a great group of young women who does everything that Canisius wants off the court? Or do you want to have some other basketball legacy?
“They were very interested in that.”
That experience also makes it easy to look past the depth on the roster. With minor injuries to some of the more experienced players early in camp, younger players were forced into more prominent spots. At first, it showed.
But over the next couple of weeks, that experience proved to be beneficial. It gave Zeh and his staff the ability to evaluate the younger players and develop their roles. As the veterans returned to the practice courts, the depth that was developed during the month of October has started to really come through.
“I felt we weren’t very deep for awhile because we had a bunch of people sitting out with injuries,” Zeh said. “Now that they are all coming back, now we have a little bit of depth. That has definitely come back in the past few weeks.”
Junior Kayla Hoohuli
Ashley Durham led the team in scoring last season and became the first Golden Griffin to be named to the All-MAAC First Team. The Griffs have three guards who saw a lot of playing time last year in senior Jen Morabito, junior Kayla Hoohuli and sophomore Tiahana Mills.
Morabito and Hoohuli each enter the season with more than 100 career 3-pointers. Mills brings a year of experience as the starting point guard and also has a very capable backup in junior Brooke Angelos. Adding in the newcomers, along with the recent of emergence of sophomore Emily Weber, gives Canisius experienced depth and talent pushing for the rest of the minutes.
Jen Morabito, Sr • 31 gp, 5.5 ppg, 47 3-pointers, 37.9 3-pt FG pct
“Her ability to shoot the basketball really stretches the defense. We need to utilize that because it gives us bigger spaces on the floor to run the offense.”
Kayla Hoohuli, Jr • 31 gp, 6.8 ppg, 45 3-pointers, 30 steals
“We need Kayla to score in a variety of ways. She can get to the basket, shoot 3-pointers and get her pull-up jumper. Kayla has done a great job of reading screens and is one of our best defensive guards.”
Brooke Angelos, Jr • 29 gp, 2.2 ppg, 67 assists
“Brooke’s speed and floor vision is really good for us with our offensive concepts. The more comfortable Brooke and everyone gets at playing at the same pace, the better we are. She has been great with getting the young players in spots defensively and helping them through practice.”
Royce Shields, Jr • Highland Community College
“Royce gives us an added perimeter defender. As she adjusts to the Division I pace, we look forward to her getting to the basket.”
Tiahana Mills, So • 28 gp, 4.1 ppg, 72 assists
“Tiahana’s growth on and off the court has been great for the team. As the starting point guard,, people are looking to her for leadership. Tiahana is providing a lot of positive feedback and instruction. She also has been shooting the ball really well.”
Emily Weber, So • 6 gp, 0.7 ppg
“Emily’s transformation has been a pleasant surprise. She has learned how to utilize her skills in game situations.”
Tamara Miskovic, Fr • Zarko Zrenjanin
“Tamara is probably the best passer on our team. She makes other players better by getting them easy shots where they can score. Tamara is tremendous in pick-and-roll situations.”
Lauren D’Hont, Fr • Pittsford Mendon
“Lauren is a multi-faceted player who gives us the ability to play a lot of different combinations because she plays a lot of positions. She is smart and understands the game thoroughly.”
Senior Jen Lennox
Canisius lost a starting frontcourt player in Ashley Wilkes and also a guard/forward in senior Allison Braun. There is a lot of experienced depth in the Canisius frontcourt, starting with three players — Jen Lennox, Jamie Ruttle and Courtney VandeBovenkamp — who are entering their fourth season as a Golden Griffin. The Griffs also have three players to compliment those three Canadians, including a potential breakout sophomore in Crystal Porter.
Jamie Ruttle, Sr • 30 gp, 8.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg
“Jamie is going to be our prime scoring threat. We have put things offensively to get her catches at all spots on the floor. With her athletic ability, that can make it difficult to guard her. As a team, we will learn how to do that and Jamie will as well.”
Jen Lennox, Sr • 29 gp, 4.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 33 blocks
“Jen is one of the most improved players. Her senior mentality is coming through strong. She was practicing unbelievable and then missed two weeks with an injury. We are excited for her to progress back and see great things from her.”
Courtney VandeBovenkamp, R-Jr • 25 gp, 4.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg
“Courtney has looked good in early practices. She re-injured her knee early in the preseason and was just recently cleared to play. With her personality, it doesn’t take Court long to adjust to the intensity.”
Crystal Porter, So • 24 gp, 2.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg
“Crystal’s transition from freshman to sophomore year has been awesome. We rely on her to rebound the basketball and defending the good athletes on other teams. Her understanding of our offense gets better each practice, and Crystal can really create her own shot.”
Jasmine Mungo, So • 5 gp, 0.8 ppg
“Jasmine provides great intensity on a daily basis. She really helps create a positive practice atmosphere and continues to develop her skills and scoring ability.”
Laniere Coleman, Fr • Lake Mary
“Laniere gives us a strong inside post presence. She has a wonderful touch around the basket and is willing to really battle in the post.”