By Sam Wilson
Greg Miller sees this as a “big year” for the Springville-Griffith Institute boys basketball team, his fourth on the varsity bench coaching the Griffins.
Springville possesses a mixture of reliable experienced players and exciting youngsters, leading to Miller’s belief in his team.
SGI welcomes back eight seniors led by captains Mason Goodridge, Adam Pruitt and Adam Ditchey along with Alex Francisco, Austin Lux, Tyler Attebery, Mike Sobota and Zach Parker. Sophomore Austin Boies, already a starter early on this season, also returns to the squad.
A pair of juniors, Chris Smith and Nick Sullivan, are first-year varsity players joining the team from JV last winter.
“They are two kids who work hard and care about always improving,” Miller said. “I am very excited to see how are guard play is this year and what we can do behind the leadership of Goodridge and Pruitt. I also am excited to see how Alex Francisco steps up into the post position and his mentality towards this season.”
Teammates selected Goodridge, Pruitt and Ditchey as captains.
“Their leadership off the court is more important on the court,” Miller said. “They are the leaders and role models of not only our team, but our program. They are responsible for building team chemistry, and make guys aware of mistakes and teaching them to take advantage of opportunities given to them.”
A guard, Goodridge averaged 24.6 points last season and Pruitt averaged 11.7 points at forward/center. The team, however, went 5-16.
So far, Miller sees the potential to improve on that mark after a month of practice.
“We are a solid team that has lots of potential,” he said. “We work hard, have a positive mentality day in and day out. Our team has been together since the modified level, so guys know each other and it helps with team chemistry. Overall, our approach is ‘ONE TEAM, ONE GOAL.’ We are always trying to achieve our very best and become better athletes and individuals.”
Still, he knows the team needs to improve its offensive game.
“We need to continue to learn how to play the game rather than running specific sets,” Miller said. “Basketball is all about reading what the opponent gives you and capitalizing on those opportunities. We can build on our basketball and court awareness as a whole.”
SGI hopes to compete for a division title in ECIC IV, but Miller called Lackawanna, Cleveland Hill and Holland “great teams” the team will compete against.
“We also want to get to Buffalo State and play for our class title,” he said. “A successful year would be achieving our goals and enjoying the time that 8 seniors have this last year at SGI.”
So far, the Griffins are 1-1 after splitting two games at the Iroquois Tournament, falling to Kenmore East before beating Alden. SGI visits Lackawanna on Friday then plays host to Starpoint in the home opener on Monday.
“I need to see a desire, passion and drive that is unstoppable and that motivates each and every guy on our team,” Miller said of what he needs to see early on this year. “We need to step up and play our game and in that, enjoy it while it lasts.”