Scott Hemer, who was formally introduced Wednesday as the new Canisius women’s basketball coach, built an impressive resume as a winner at SUNY Geneseo. It’s not a carry-over, however, from his college years at St. Bonaventure.
The North Collins native makes it clear he did not participate in intercollegiate athletics as a Bonnie.
"And," he jokes, "it wasn’t because I was concentrating on my academics."
Nevertheless, he’s been involved in basketball as a coach on the amateur, high school and college level ever since he left the St. Bonaventure campus.
After 11 seasons at Geneseo where his record was 218-89, Hemer was ready for another challenge and found one at Canisius, which has not had a winning season since 2008-09 and owns only one Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship.
"Any good coach continues to find ways to challenge themselves at the highest level of the sport," Hemer said of his decision to make the jump to Canisius. The fact that it brings him and family closer to home was a factor, too.
Hemer doesn’t tie himself to any particular coaching philosophy or emulate any individual coach.
"Throughout my career I’ve picked up bits and pieces from coaches I’ve observed from afar and ones I’ve worked with," he said. "I tried to put together a coaching philosophy that works for me."
Boiling it down, Hemer says "We’re going to focus on being good at a few things and not be average at a lot of things." One of those things is defensive rebounding, which was a glaring weakness for Canisius in a 10-20 season last year, 8-10 in the MAAC.
The highlight of the Griffs’ season was a win over St. Bonaventure, a sweep of the Niagara series in the MAAC and an upset over Siena.
Due back from that team are scoring leader Sara Hinriksdottir (14.9), a third-team All-MAAC performer, guard Maria Welch and 6-3 junior Tiana Pugh. Also, freshmen Danielle Sanderlin and Anndea Zeigler (Cardinal O’Hara), Danielle Sanderlin and Olivia Vernon and sophomores Anna Sweny gained some starting experience last season.
Canisius has not signed any recruits for next season yet, but Hemer will be busy getting acquainted with prospects who have verbally committed or otherwise shown interest in Canisius. His Geneseo teams leaned heavily on players from Long Island and Westchester County.
"We certainly will do all we can to keep the local talent at home," Hemer said, "but there are lots of places we feel we can get talent from."
Hemer will have three assistant coaches and a director of team operations to hire. He said no decision has been made either way about retaining present assistants. Megan Shoniker was associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, Mike Groulx was assistant coach and Jess Pham was directdor of basketball operations under previous coach Terry Zeh.
The Canisius schedule is pretty much set for 2018-19 against many of the same nonconference opponents faced last season. One-out-of-area tournament has not been solidified yet.
Canisius 15, Niagara 10: That five-way tie for first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference ended up a four-way deadlock after the final conference regular season games were played on Wednesday. The win at Niagara left Canisius at 6-2 in MAAC play, the same record as Marist, Fairfield and Monmouth, who won Wednesday. The loss dropped Niagara to fifth place on the standings. Siena finished sixth.
Marist will be the No. 1 seed and host the semifinals and finals of the MAAC Tournament May 3 and 5 in Poughkeepsie. No. 5 Niagara will play at No. 4 Canisius and No. 6 Iona will play at No. 3 Fairfield in first-round games Saturday.
Jen Reininger scored to break a 4-4 tie and ignite a four-goal Canisius run in the first half then added three more tallies in the second half to lead the Golden Griffins over Niagara in Lewiston.
Rachel Ryan also had five goals for the Griffs.
The Griffs limited Niagara's Rachel MacCheyne, the MAAC goals and points leader, to one goal and two assists.