GREENPORT — It was a big day for the Brian Smith and the Columbia-Greene Community College men’s basketball program Tuesday afternoon.
The Twins showcased eight athletes that will to don the green and white for the 2018-19 season.
“I think this group is going to be great. They’ve been working out with us for awhile, I’ve had multiple interactions with them, and they’re academically strong, which, in the past, that’s been an issue for us. So I think this group, they all know each other, which is totally different. They brought each other together here, so it is going to be a good situation,” Smith said.
The eight new Twins are Isaac McIntosh (Brooklyn School of Arts and Science), Ezekiel De La Cruz (Spackenkill), Eyzaiya Ortiz (Saugerties), Robert Taylor, Brandon Blakney (Fallsburg), Kaijah Rodgers (Henninger), and Hudson High graduates Mike Alert and Daniel Folds.
“I was excited to have somebody of Mike Alert and Daniel Folds’ talent level, especially here,” Smith said.
Folds comes to the Twins after a year hiatus from playing basketball competitively. The sophomore started his career at Schenectady Community College, averaging 6.3 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in nine contests. Prior to that, Folds was the high-flying forward that starred on the Hudson team that advanced to the New York state high school Final Four in 2016.
Alert returns to the area after a brief stint at Utica College. The former Patroon MVP, who averaged 17.2 points per game his senior season, looks to fill the hole left at guard for the Twins.
The new Twins hoopsters will be joining returning starting center Bright Afful. The 6-foot-4 center averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds as a freshman.
However, the Twins will enter this season without point guard and team captain Jordan Wright. Wright drastically improved in his sophomore season and went on to lead the Twins in assists, averaging 6.2 per game. He also finished averaging 4.4 rebounds and was second on the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game.
“I think, if you look at Daniel Folds’ numbers when he was at Schenectady and what Mike did when he was in high school, and all of these guys and what they have done in high school, I think it is going to be easier to compensate for that, but you can never take away what Jordan did for us. I think these guys work together, they’re a team, and they have that brotherly love, so that should help us,” Smith said.
The Twins finished the 2017-18 campaign with an 11-16 record, however, Smith battled roster attrition all season, finishing the year with only six players. As a team, Columbia-Greene averaged 83.3 points per game with their up-tempo offense, though they allowed 80.6 points per game on the other end.
Columbia-Greene could have finished the year 15-12, yet suffered four losses in contests settled by six points or fewer.
Those losses could have been settled by better free throw shooting by the Twins, who finished the season shooting 64 percent from the charity stripe. Columbia-Greene had multiple games with double-digit free throw misses. Heading into this season, Smith expects that to change.
“Hopefully we make free throws because that’s a determining factor, that hurt us in multiple games. We missed double-digit free throws and that could have been 15-12,” Smith said.
With Smith, the ultimate goal every year is for his team to be in excellent academic standing throughout the season. Beyond that, Smith has big goals for his group of guys once they hit the court this fall.
“I would love to get to Regionals, that is my ultimate goal,” Smith said. “We haven’t been there since my second year as an assistant. I want to be there, I want to give the community something back and I think having the local guys, we are going to have a large crowd now and I think this group works extremely hard. The pay back will be that we make it to Regionals.”