The Plattsburgh State men’s basketball season ended last weekend, despite putting forth its best efforts to nearly secure the final playoff spot in the SUNYAC conference. The Cardinals finish 13-12 overall and 9-9 in the conference.
PSUC was able to defeat SUNY New Paltz 80-78 and Oneonta 92-82 in its final weekend of the season. However, it was not enough to continue its season after Geneseo was able to win out as well to secure the six seed in the tournament, edging out the Cards for the final spot.
“I don’t think they’re real happy about not having a postseason opportunity,” Curle said about his players. “I think its contingent upon us as a team to make sure that we handle that, and control what’s in our control next year.”
The Cards started conference play by losing seven of its first nine matchups, but were able to counter its poor start by winning the final seven of nine to leave them with an even 9-9 conference record.
“It serves as a fair warning that it is your entire body of work that’s being judged,” Curle said. “Next year, we can’t let a game slip, where you don’t think it will come back and bite you, because it does.”
Curle mentioned how his team was one of the best in the conference coming down the stretch, and emphasized that with two statement-game victories in its final series.
“We performed very well,” Curle said. “It was the first time I saw in this group a ‘refuse-to-lose mentality,’ and that’s not easy to get as a team. I think it was a good weekend and gives us something upon which we can build.”
In a year that was led by one senior to go along with nine underclassmen, there is a lot to build on come next season in first-year assistant coach Chris Manning’s eyes.
“We have a great group of players and young men,” Manning said. “It’ll be great to have everyone back next year, and to see how they come back from this summer. I think it’s going to be an important summer for a lot of guys in a lot of different ways.”
Manning mentioned the team’s struggles following winter break served as a reminder to everyone that winning takes hard work and will not come easily.
“It’s not easy to win games,” Manning said. “This year is going to help us with realizing that next year.”
Manning, who played two years under Curle, is in his second gig being part of the PSUC coaching staff after serving as a student assistant in 2014. When former associate head coach Cameron Conover left and became the head coach for Oneonta after last season, Manning was offered an assistant coaching position to work alongside Curle.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot about leadership and staying positive,” Manning said. “I’ve also been on the other side of things. He (Curle) always wants the best out of you, so I’m always encouraging the guys to get through it and to always stay positive.”
Junior guard Eli Bryant has found himself learning a lot from Manning, and has been trying to implement a similar style of play that he had while playing for PSUC.
“He’s helped me a lot,” Bryant said. “I plan to work with him every day in the off season. Especially on defense because when he was here he averaged three or four steals per game.”
Compared to only one senior this year, Bryant will be one of the four seniors on next year’s roster.
“I plan to bring more leadership next year,” Bryant said. “It (having only one senior) affected us a lot. Owen (Mitchell) stepped up a lot this year and motivated us big time, so for next year I want to bring the same leadership that he had.”
Despite not reaching their ultimate goal this season, the Cards have a strong foundation and plan to be back on top next year.
“I’ve seen the progress already in our last two games,” Bryant said. “We will definitely be going into next year with a positive outlook.”
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