Senior Captains Prove That Patience is a Virtue
Before the start of the 2012-13 season, men’s basketball head coach Michael Harding named his only two seniors as captains of the young squad. Choosing seniors to lead has been a staple in Harding’s coaching career, but the journey to the top for Derek Knutty and John Reiser has been on roads less travelled.
Knutty comes to St. Michael’s by way of Rocklin, Calif. and started off his career as a Purple Knight by making 10 starts and becoming a solid contributor during his first season in 2009-10. However, his number of starts and play time decreased over the last two years causing Knutty to rethink his situation at a school located on the other side of the country.
Knutty explained that during his second season, he debated whether or not to stay with the program and felt like if he left he would be letting his teammates down.
“My sophomore year around Christmas time, I thought about leaving,” Knutty said. “It’s not so much making friends, it’s a close community that we have here and it would be like leaving your family behind.”
Harding applauded Knutty’s toughness over the years and said that the 6-foot-7 inch forward is one of the most important players on the court for the team this year. As a starter this season, Knutty is averaging 8.6 points per game while leading the team in rebounding with 9.8 per contest.
“He’s one of the only guys that has honestly made it through my three years here,” Harding said. “He’s about as selfless as a player that I’ve coached since I’ve been at St. Michael’s and I think that’s his best attribute as a captain and a leader.”
Reiser is in his third season with the team and his rise through the ranks has been unorthodox compared to most of this year’s roster. Reiser made the team as a sophomore in 2010 as a walk-on and has only played four minutes in his entire career.
Reiser admits that not playing is tough, but he sees his role as another way to contribute and make an impact.
“I see myself as being a mature leader because we’ve got a lot of youth,” Reiser said. “They definitely look up to me and Knut for guidance and we try to bring that every day and get them prepared for what they’re going to see on the court.”
Reiser said that there are times where he contemplates his choice, but his love for basketball and his teammates overpowers any doubt in his mind.
“There are definitely days where you feel that a little insignificance,” Reiser said. “But, then I think of how long I’ve played basketball and how much I love the game. I love these guys and I feel like if I left them, I’d be letting them all down.”
Harding is impressed with Reiser’s mental capacity and explained that he helps out the coaching staff by adding new perspectives that he sees on the court during game time.
“John’s the smartest guy in our program and when he speaks the team listens,” Harding said. “Without him I think we’d be much less aware of things on the court we can improve upon throughout the year.”
Harding sees Knutty and Reiser as two completely different types of leaders, but their contrast in styles play off of each other.
“John is somebody who sits back, watches, analyzes the situation and then is more much more careful about what he is going to say,” Harding said. “But, as a result it has a lot more punch and it’s usually right on.”
“Derek is a guy that leads much more by doing,” Harding said. “I can’t really remember a practice yet this year where he isn’t the first guy up in drills. He’s sort of our energy guy.”
Knutty and Reiser agreed that leading a team with 11 underclassmen can be difficult.
“It can be kind of hard sometimes,” Reiser said. “You have to make sure that you maintain that leadership with younger guys so we can allow them to grow and get game time experience.”
As the only two seniors in the men’s basketball program the pair feels like they have created a solid bond over the past three years, which allows them to be comfortable as the team’s leaders.
“We’re really good friends,” Reiser said. “We’ve been here with coach since he’s gotten here so we kind of know what to expect from him and we go based off of that and usually have the same opinions on situations.”
Harding explained that early in the year the team has “a ways to go.” He explained that the team is being played a very specifically way defensively and the team has to be more patient in their offensive game plan. Harding connected the role of patience to his own captains and their journeys.
“It’s probably something that we take from Derek and John,” Harding said. “John never plays and he’s as patient as can be and Derek has definitely waited his turn.”
The team will look to improve their 2-3 record as Knutty, Reiser and the Purple Knights continue their journey Dec. 4 at Merrimack. The team will be back at home on Dec. 6 as they take on Saint Anselm at 7:30 p.m.