By Chris Gionta
For a few years, the Blake Arena audience was able to get used to a couple of key stars from the Springfield College men’s basketball team. An incredible guard-forward duo in Jake Ross and Heath Post captivated Springfield for all of the four years that they were there.
Ross was the pinnacle of basketball at the Birthplace while he was there. He averaged 24.4 points per game along with 9.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in 108 career games with the Pride. Most importantly, he is Springfield men’s basketball’s all-time leading scorer, with 2,634 career points to his name. No one is within 500 points of Ross.
Post was the premier big man for a large part of his collegiate career, and did his share of scoring, rebounding and blocking shots. He averaged 13.5 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game, and 1.5 blocks per game. In his senior year on Alden Street, he averaged a double-double with 17.0 PPG and 10.8 RPG.
As these two players played out their four years of eligibility, the Pride are set to undergo a new identity. A mix of familiar faces and new faces will be on the James Naismith Court in the 2021-22 men’s basketball season.
In their first game of the season against Western New England at the Alumni Healthful Living Center on Nov. 5, the Pride’s starting lineup featured three seniors and two sophomores. The starting sophomores, guard Zeke Blauner and forward Cameron Garber, were able to make an immediate impact in their first career collegiate games, as they were tied with each other for the most points scored by Springfield players with 12 each.
Senior guards Daryl Costa and Collin Lindsay come into the 2021-22 season with the largest Springfield resumés on the roster. They each scored over six points per game in their previous seasons on the courts, were featured in the starting lineup on Friday, and were also the top two rebounders from that game.
One player to look for off the bench may be junior guard Panayiotis Kapanides. All four shots he took on Friday were successful, with three of them being behind the three-point line. This gave him 11 points off the bench.
In the end, Western New England ended up on top by the score of 80-68 in each team’s first game of the season.
After the Pride went 23-5 in the 2019-20 season with an 11-1 conference record to lead the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference, Springfield men’s basketball is expected to have a different outlook for the 2021-22 season. The NEWMAC preseason coaches’ poll has the Pride fifth out of eight.
The first 10 games on Springfield’s schedule are non-conference, and three will be at Blake Arena. Their next game is this upcoming Friday at Roger Williams, and their first home game in two years will be on Nov. 17 against Eastern Connecticut State University.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics