Senior year comes with a mix of emotions for many athletes. It is a year filled with lasts. The last away bus ride with their teammates, the last time going through warm-ups in their home gym, and most importantly the last time to make a special tournament run.
The latter of these “lasts“ is something this year’s Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team is ready to accomplish.
Senior leadership has been one of the large keys to the Cardinals’ success this season.
Senior Reggie Williams is having a dominant season, exceeding all expectations anyone could have set for him.
Williams is leading the SUNYAC in field-goal percentage and is fourth in the conference in rebounding. Williams’ impressive play has not gone unnoticed by the league, and there have been an increased number of double-teams thrown at him as a result. In many cases, this could cause major issues, but Williams has the skill set to turn these opportunities into the team’s advantage.
Head coach Tom Curle cited Williams’ ability to pass to open teammates when he is doubled-down on as a useful tool to combat opposing pressure. Curle also expressed that Williams is not the type of player to aggressively demand the ball from his teammates, but it has gotten to the point where teammates realize he is a great option more times than not.
“As big as he is, Reggie is definitely a gentle giant,” Curle said. “He doesn’t demand the ball from his teammates, but they are realizing the more he gets the ball, the better off we all are.”
Throughout the season, Curle has cited impatience leading to poor shot selection as an issue that hurt the Cards, but Williams’ passing out of double-teams, as well as consistent ball movement stemming from senior point guard Mike Mitchell, has limited these mistakes lately.
Mitchell is currently leading the SUNYAC in assists, dishing out 5.2 assists per game. This past weekend Mitchell had arguably his best two-game performance of the season, recording 16 assists, including a career-high 12 assists against Cortland Feb. 13. This was all done while recording only six turnovers.
Mitchell believes PSUC’s knack for effectively breaking the opponent’s press as a reason behind both his and the team’s successful weekend.
“We got through their press and did a really good job of sharing the ball,” Mitchell said. “I think that made it really hard on them. They weren’t able to guard us as effectively as they would’ve liked to.”
The Cards have had much success the past few seasons, making it to both the SUNYAC championship and the NCAA tournament both years. There is definitely a void, however, that has yet to be filled — making a longer run in the NCAA tournament.
The team understands right now that they are the team to beat and everyone is gunning for them, but Williams said it does not change how they are going to play, and they are still more than confident moving forward.
“We play hard every single night,” Williams said. “We take all of our energy and use it to play harder and harder every game.”
Email Bailey Carlin at email@example.com