Crusaders prep for Manhattan Cup Championship


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The 2019-20 Canisius Crusaders basketball team are in the midst of a pretty special season.

“We’re really close as a team, we’re always joking around on and off the floor,” Canisius senior Eric Kegler said. “We’re really unselfish, so we pass the ball around a lot, we’re a good passing team. When everybody’s going, it’s hard to beat us.”

Through their 21-3 season, the Crusaders have faced adversity, but even through tight, hard fought wins and tough losses, Canisius has continued to learn and improve.

“Coming into the season, we felt really confident, even though our chemistry wasn’t up before the season, but throughout the season it got better,” Canisius senior Ishmael Fairclough said. “We grew stronger together throughout each and every game.”

“It’s been a blast, we started off really hot, then we battled through some tough two losses in a row, then we got back and beat our rivals at a tough environment in their place. They’re a good team, so it was a good win for us and it’s good to get back on track,” Kegler said.

With their outstanding 11-1 record in Monsignor Martin play, the Crusaders earned the top seed in the playoffs and an automatic spot in the Manhattan Cup on Tuesday. The two week break from play allows Canisius some well deserved rest, and time to scout their possible opponent in the championship game.

“It gives us a good time to rest our bodies, but we still watch film on the teams we have a possibility of playing from the film of our previous games,” Canisius senior Dewayne Vass said. “We’re keeping our minds sharp, resting our bodies, and getting our bodies back better so it’s a good time for us.”

“We stay focused, not worrying about who we’re playing, when we’re playing them, we just have to stay focused, keep doing what we’ve been doing throughout the season, and don’t let up,” Fairclough said.

“Touching up on the little things, a lot of skill work and just staying sharp,” Kegler said. “Having a little fun here and there, but just staying focused on the task that’s ahead of us next week.”

Canisius returns to the Manhattan Cup championship game for the 11th time in 12 years, and after losing to Park in the last two championships, the Crusaders look to come away with their first title since 2017.

“We haven’t won the championship in like two years, so it feels good to be the front runners for once in the last three, four years,” Vass said. “It feels good to have a little more of a chip on our shoulder because we haven’t won it in a long time.”

Canisius will face Saturday’s winner between St. Joe’s and St. Francis in the Manhattan Cup championship game. Tipoff is set for Tuesday at 8 pm at Canisius College.

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