The SUNY Plattsburgh men’s basketball team will begin its 2019-20 season tonight at 7:30 p.m. when the Cardinals take on Farmingdale State College in the Hartwick Tip-Off Tournament at Oneonta.
The game will also be the Plattsburgh State debut for head coach Mike Blaine, who served as the head coach at Medaille College for the past five seasons.
Blaine led Medaille to two Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championships and posted a total record of 84-55.
Part of the reason why Blaine chose to continue his coaching career at SUNY Plattsburgh was because of the program’s historical success.
“It was a very difficult decision to leave Medaille,” Blaine said. “As I was looking at Plattsburgh, I met some great people, and it was great to see how invested the people and the community was. Meeting the young men in the program, seeing how hungry they are to continue the success that the programs had year after year, it was an appealing opportunity for me to continue as a coach and to find a new challenge.”
Last season, under head coach Tom Curle, the Cardinals finished with a regular-season record of 20-5 before losing in the semifinals of the SUNYAC tournament and the first round of NCAA Division III tournament.
Curle announced his retirement from the men’s basketball program over the summer, finishing with an overall record of 272-145 and winning five SUNYAC championships.
Curle’s most memorable season came in 2017-18, where the Cards finished with a regular-season record of 20-4 overall, and 17-1 in the SUNYAC. Plattsburgh State ended up winning the SUNYAC championship that year and was eventually eliminated in the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament. Curle was awarded SUNYAC’s coach of the year.
“The tradition of success that the program had over the last seven years is impressive and is really one of the things that drew me to the position to be so successful, so consistent year after year,” Blaine said.
The Cards are now without six of last year’s seniors and all were major contributors to the team’s success of the men’s basketball program last season. This year’s seniors include guard Nick DeAngelis, guard/forward Jeremy Eisenman and forward Adam Jaquish.
“It’s the goal every season to win 20-plus games,” Jaquish said. “It’s gonna be a little more difficult [this year] since we don’t have as many upperclassmen, but it is possible. We’ve been putting in very hard work, I feel we have great team chemistry so far, so it is possible, but it will be a lot more difficult than it was in the past.”
With the departure of six seniors last season, the Cards basketball roster now includes five freshmen: forward Lamont Hough Jr., guard Jalen Marshall, center Cameron Ness, guard Axel Rodriguez and forward Erik Salo.
“I love to watch them grow as players and as young men,” Jaquish said. “Since this is my last year, I’m trying to help them get their feet set with the team, the new coach and everything else that’s important. I’m just really excited to see what they can produce and improve on during the season.”
SUNY Plattsburgh plays their home opener Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall on Rock the Red Night, where the Cards takes on St. Lawrence University.
“The home games have been really amazing, just seeing the fans there and interacting with the people you know that go to the school and interacting with the people that are from Plattsburgh,” Eisenman said. “I hope they continue to support us, and I hope the crowd is as lively as when we were in the SUNYAC tournament.”
Plattsburgh State will travel to Utica next Thursday to play their next away game of the season when they take on SUNY Poly at 7 p.m.