Chuck Giscombe, a senior co-captain of the Canisius College basketball team, knows good harmony when he hears it.
Giscombe is a talented vocalist in a promising rhythm and blues band in his hometown of Syracuse. The band has received several offers to sign a recording contract, and Giscombe is very hopeful of embarking on a professional recording career when this season is over.
Lately, Giscombe has come to know what good harmony is when he sees it as well.
The Golden Griffins have been demonstrating it on the court. Canisius is off to a 4-1 start, and greater cohesiveness on the court seems to be a big reason for it.
"I've been here four years and been through a lot of trials and tribulations," said Giscombe, a 6-foot-3 guard. "It seems like the pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together.
"Chemistry is one of the big improvements on our team. We have more maturity. We've been through it together before. The older guys are helping out the younger guys. We're playing better together."
The Griffs have been playing particularly well as a unit defensively, holding the opposition to 32 percent shooting through five games. Granted, the opposition hasn't been that strong (aside from Xavier, which edged the Griffs, 62-59), but 32 percent is impressive nonetheless.
Giscombe, probably the Griffs' best defender, was a key to their rout of Brown in the Marist Classic title game. He held Brown's top scorer, Rick Lloyd, to five points.
Giscombe said the fact the Griffs are more experienced and communicate better are keys.
"I give credit for my good defense to the whole team," Giscombe said. "You can't stop somebody every time. You're going to get beat during a game. And you have to have confidence that when you do, your teammates are going to help you out. That's what we've been doing."
"Chuck takes pride in his defense," Griff coach Marty Marbach said. "Against Xavier, he got into foul trouble and that hurt us. When he sits, he hurts us more defensively than offensively."
Offensively, Giscombe is a more effective shooter when he takes jump shots rather than trying to force running one-handers. He averaged 9.8 ppg last year, and a consistent 10-12 ppg this year would be very satisfactory.
"We're going to win on balanced scoring and on defense," Giscombe said. "That's what the coach has stressed. . . . The key to winning armony
in this system is blending in."
Giscombe's band blends rap and rhythm and blues, with an emphasis on the latter. It's a perfect blend, the members like to think, hence the name of the ensemble, Jus Right.
The group has been together for three years and has done most of its work in the studio. It has appeared live only a few times.
Giscombe, who got his start in singing as a youngster in church, spent most of his weekends this fall going to New York City to record. The group has seven songs finished and four more set for recording.
Giscombe said the group has received contract offers from big record labels such as Polygram and A&M, plus several others. Because he's on an athletic grant, however, he can't sign a record deal.
"If I wasn't playing basketball, there would be some serious negotiations on a contract," said Giscombe, whose sister is a professional singer. "The president of Polygram has shown a lot of interest in us."
Giscombe is the group's lead vocalist and fans have seen a glimpse of his talent the last two years at Griff football games, where he has received rousing ovations for his renditions of the national anthem.
He plans to sing the national anthem before a Griff game later this season, perhaps giving fans a chance to hear and see good harmony.