By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Widener University men’s basketball team is off and running this  season.

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The Division III Pride sit at 7-1 (2-0 in the Middle Atlantic Conference) after an 83-67 win over Messiah on Saturday. Widener already is more than halfway to their win total of a season ago, when they finished 13-12.

“We’re playing better defense than we’ve played in recent years,” Widener head coach Chris Carideo tells KYW Newsradio. “We’ve really set a goal early in the year to kind of keep our defensive field goal percentage around 40% (so far 40.1%), limit teams to the low 60s (in points – so far allowing 63.4 a game) and try and rebound the ball well, which we’re doing (+12.5 rebounding margin). We’re definitely doing those things as a collective group and I think that, because of that, we’ve been able to be in some games that maybe, if our offense isn’t going, which it hasn’t in some games, we still are able to compete. And we’ve just found a way to win games at the end.”

Chris Carideo is 131-90 as Widener head coach. (Photo credit: Ryan Samson/Widener Athletics)

Chris Carideo is 131-90 as Widener head coach. (Photo credit: Ryan Samson/Widener Athletics)

Carideo really does have all precincts reporting here in the early going with seven players averaging at least 6.6 points per game. Junior forward David Nicholson is high man with an average of 13.9. Carideo says he is also getting great leadership this season.

Listen to Widener head coach Chris Carideo with KYW’s Matt Leon:


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“Our seniors, (forward) Greg Lawson and (guard) Mark Pryzbylkowski have really kind of done a very good job of leading our guys,” Carideo says. “They’re our only two seniors on the team right now. So from the first day of practice, they’ve really kind of been in charge and tried and help the new guys, some transfers that we have, and certainly the freshmen, with kind of how we do things and how we want to win and how we want to conduct ourselves.”

Widener is entering a key part of the schedule. Beginning with Wednesday’s game at Swarthmore, they play three straight away from home.

“This is a big stretch for us,” Carideo says. “We’re in exam week right now. Unfortunately, we had to schedule some games during exam week just because of the way the schedule fell. So you know the guys are consumed with their exams and we’re on the road for three straight games. We’ve only played one true road game to this point, and that was at Muhlenberg (68-65 win). So this is a big week for us. ”

And as enjoyable as a 7-1 start is, Carideo is quick to point out that they still have a lot of work to do.

“Old sports cliche, it’s how you finish, it’s not how you start,” Carideo says. “So we’re just trying to continue to get better.”

Widener visits Swarthmore Wednesday at 8:00pm.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.


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