By Garrett Jones
There’s no debating the fact that the 2021-2022 season was not one that the Plattsburgh men’s basketball team will look back on fondly, posting a 2-23 season. However, the Cardinals don’t have any plans to be an easy win for anyone this season.
A young team has become a little older, a little stronger and a little hungrier. Coach Mike Blaine and the team are looking to make some waves in this brand-new season. No better place to start than in its home opener Tuesday, Nov. 8 against rival Clarkson University.
From the outside looking in, it may seem like last season was a total bust and couldn’t have possibly had positives to it. However, Blaine doesn’t see it that way.
“Last year was helpful for our guys,” Blaine said. “They got to see what it takes to be successful in the SUNYAC and record aside, it showed us that we aren’t as far away as it may look from the outside.”
Last season, the Cardinals were competitive in the majority of their games despite what their record says. 12 of their losses were within 13 points difference or less.
The regular season had some tough losses. The offseason had some tough ones as well.
The Cardinals lost its vocal leader and senior guard, Marlon Todd. Todd was the only graduate of what was a team littered with young players. Sophomore Franklin Infante is one of those young players who is ready to take strides forward this season.
“My individual expectations are to do whatever I am asked to do to help my team win,” Infante said. “Whatever it takes to help this program win games this year, I’m willing to do.”
Infante finished with a solid first year season stat line posting eight points a game, 3.1 rebounds, two assists, and was second on the team in steals per game with 1.5.
“I’m looking forward to the bond my teammates and I build through the ups and downs of the season,” Infante said.“Whether we are talking before, during or after practice, the times we have together are always special.”
Senior forward Sheriff Conteh shared similar sentiments regarding the team and its’ bond for this upcoming season.
“The chemistry is very different this year,” Conteh said. “We chill and watch basketball and football and just get to know each other better.”
Conteh will be one of three seniors on the team this season and plans on being a leader this year for his younger teammates and lead by example.
“I’m looking to lead vocally and do what my teammates need me to do,” Conteh said. “Whether that’s on the offensive end or the defensive end I’m going to do what it takes to win.”
Kevin Tabb and Erik Salo are two returning starters from last year. They were No. 1 and No. 2 in points per game, respectively.
Tabb finished the season averaging 16.6 points per game and 2.2 assists. Salo had 14.0 points and a team-leading 8.2 rebounds per game. Infante is the other returning starter from last season and was top five in scoring on the team.
The Cardinals added two recruits to the team, Ankush Malhotra and Anthony Williams Jr. Williams’ father, Anthony Williams, is second all-time in career points for the program. He led Plattsburgh to three consecutive SUNYAC Titles from 2006-2008 and was inducted into the Plattsburgh Athletics Hall of Fame last year.
“We’re still young but we’re getting better and improving every day,” Blaine said. “If we can figure out our details and stay focused on us, the big picture stuff will fall into place.”
Infante put it best when he spoke on behalf of the team saying, “We’re ready to win some games.”