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Griffs In Depth: Men’s basketball takes a team chemistry class

CANISIUS COLLEGE ATHLETICS

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With the opening of the 2018-19 season just 22 days away, the Canisius men's basketball team has been working toward the start of the 115th season in school history on the floor. But this year's preseason work has not been limited to shooting drills, team defense and out-of-bounds plays.
 
For two full days prior to the start of the official practice schedule Oct. 1, the Golden Griffins worked with Dr. Joe Carr, a highly-regarded sports psychologist, in an effort to build and foster a better team chemistry.
 
Since 1999, Carr has worked with more than 50 college teams, as well as NBA superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon has known about Dr. Carr for years through various connections in the college hoops coaching world, and he thought this year was the right time to bring Dr. Carr to Canisius' campus to work with his program.
 
"Coach [Keith] Dambrot has been working with Dr. Carr for a while and he's been suggesting I speak with him for years," Witherspoon said. "As a staff, we looked at our team this year and we realized that there are a lot of barriers between guys. That's not uncommon when you build a team that you're going to have players from various backgrounds, different personalities and upbringings, and we concluded that if we really wanted to have great team chemistry, we should bring in Dr. Carr. This is a man who deals with team chemistry on so many levels. This is his professional expertise."
 
Witherspoon said the most eye-opening thing for him as the Griffs' head coach was learning exactly how hard it is to build team chemistry. This is not to say that the team had bad chemistry going into the sessions with Dr. Carr, but building a strong, championship-level program really forces a team, both players and coaches, to drill relationships down to a deeper level.
 
"There is a high-degree of difficulty to improve team chemistry and Dr. Carr made that very well-known early on in the first session with the team," Witherspoon said. "It is not an easy thing. It is easy to just look at it and say guys are friends off the court, so we're good. Everyone involved with the team needs to understand that there is a lot of effort needed to build a team atmosphere, both on and off the floor."
 
Coming off a season where the Griffs won 21 games and the program's first MAAC regular-season title since 1994, Witherspoon believed this was the right time to have Carr come to Canisius and really make this year's team focus on being a collective team unit, both on and off the floor.
 
"Building a strong team chemistry is the next step in the process as we continue to build this program," he said. "But we chose to have Dr. Carr come here for more than just basketball. We obviously want to build a strong basketball team, but part of our mission here is to build our players into strong men for others, so they are ready to be productive and successful when their playing days are over."
 
The 2018-19 edition of the Griffs will officially open the season Nov. 13, at Bucknell before playing host to Albany in the 2018-19 home opener on Saturday, Nov. 17. Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by CLICKING HERE.