At 6 p.m. tonight, the Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team will open the 2017-18 season by facing off against the Plymouth State Panthers in Memorial Hall as their first of two games in the Cardinal Classic.
Going into the matchup, PSUC head coach Cheryl Cole said the Cardinals are more focused on development, but also stressed their desire to win.
“At this point in the season, we’re more worried about us than we are about them.” Cole said. “We want to win it more because it’s in our home. We have just got to be ready to go, no matter who we’re playing.”
Third-year transfer student and point guard Anna Thompson said another one of the team’s main focuses is on “Keeping up our intensity, keeping up our speed. We’re trying to stick to what we know best and get a win.”
The Cards start off their season with an auspicious five game home stretch.
“Having the first five games at home is nice.” Cole said. “We’re in our own beds, we don’t have to ride the bus, our pregame meals are here. Everything is normal.”
Cole believes having player’s friends and family cheering them on from the stands can serve as a confidence boost, and the players agree.
“It gives us so much momentum going into those away games.” Thompson said. “We’ve got people coming out to support us. Athletes supporting athletes, our friends, our family. It’s so great to open up like that.”
Going into a season where last year’s backcourt regulars Moe Jones and Jax Miller are noticeably absent, the PSUC women’s basketball team must now move forward with many new faces.
“[Jones and Miller] were both great people that did a lot for our program.” Cole said. “With the point guards that we have, I feel confident that they’re ready to take over the reins and give us leadership”
With a new cast composed of eight returning players and eight freshmen, the battle for minutes has become that much more competitive.
“We’re at each other’s throats.” Thompson said “Because if you go soft in practice, you go soft in games.”
Thompson is one of the point guards Cole mentioned, and feels her experience with Concordia College, a Division II school where she played under a scholarship, can help her keep the team motivated.
As the playmaker on the court, Thompson also strives to make her teammates improve.
“I challenge myself every single day to make someone else better on the floor,” Thompson said. “Whether it be getting my shooter open, getting one of my bigs better at finishing or making sure everyone is boxing out and rebounding.”
The Cards finished last year with a 6-12 record, and were outscored in both first and fourth quarters overall. One of the factors Cole believes played a role in the team’s trouble finishing games was their youth, but hopes the experience accumulated over last season and the growth they saw over the summer will propel them to a better season.
On top of the team’s youth, last year’s team “had lots of troubles” Cole said. She singled out the team’s inconsistent offense.
“We were really streaky last year,” Cole said. “There were times when we could put up a lot of points, and times when we would just hit a drought.”
Cole pointed to injuries playing a large part in the team’s performance last season as well.
“Basketball is a contact sport,” Cole said. “Injuries happen.”
In order to better prepare for injuries, Cole and her coaching staff opted to keep 16 players on the roster, the highest she has ever carried.
“Ideally, if no one gets hurt, you want 12.” Cole said. “But that doesn’t happen.”
The expectations going into the season are clear for Coach Cole and her players.
“There’s going to be a lot of growing pains.” Cole said. “That’s not going to be over anytime soon, but we’ve got to make steps. We’ve got to keep getting better each and every day.”
Email Fernando Alba at email@example.com