Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Plattsburgh in postseason hunt

Mike Blaine smiles approvingly at Jeremiah Smith from the sidelines Jan. 30 in Memorial Hall.

 

 

By Michael Purtell

 

The Plattsburgh State Cardinals men’s basketball team is at the tail end of its season. For the first time under Head Coach Mike Blaine, the team has a real shot at making a postseason appearance.

College athletics were thrown into chaos just three seasons ago, with COVID-19 shutting down the 2020 season. Coming off of that lost season, the Cardinals were a mere 2-23. The team only achieved one conference win out of 18 games.

It was the worst season the team has had in 50 years.

Since then, the team has improved its record every season. Last year, the Cards earned 10 wins, the highest mark under Blaine. It was a step forward, but not quite enough to earn them a spot in the SUNYAC tournament.

This season, the team sits at 12 wins, 9 in conference, with two games left to play. It is currently tangled in a three-way tie for fifth in the conference. This record is built entirely upon excellent play coming out of the winter break, where the team was able to string together a four game conference win streak after going 0-2 in conference play in fall 2023.

Two wins to finish the season would guarantee the Cardinals a playoff spot, and depending on how things fall across the conference, one could be enough to decide it.

 

NEW PALTZ

(17-6, 11-5)

The battle of the birds will see the Cardinals facing off against a juggernaut Hawks squad. New Paltz currently sits at second place in the conference, only behind the undefeated Oswego Lakers.

The last meeting of these two teams was a nail-biter despite the difference in record. The Hawks snatched a win from Plattsburgh 74-73 in New Paltz. Now with a shot in Memorial Hall and the playoffs on the line, the Cardinals need to pull off an upset.

The Cardinals will need to execute better on the perimeter on both sides of the ball in this second match. In the last meeting four Hawks scored two or more three-pointers, allowing 45% shooting from the team. In response, the Cardinals were held to 37% from deep, without a single player hitting more than one attempt.

This allowed the Hawks to edge out a win, despite a huge Plattsburgh advantage in paint scoring, 40-22.

The Cardinals also failed to score a single point off of second shot attempts, despite grabbing nine offensive boards. The Hawks cashed out 12 points on just six offensive rebounds.

An area of optimism is the defensive end of the ball. The Cardinals recorded more steals and blocks than the hawks in that game. It also forced the Hawks into committing 19 turnovers, proving that it is more than capable of slowing down this top-of-the-league team.

The game against the Hawks will be tonight at 7:30 p.m.

 

ONEONTA  

(12-11, 9-7)

The final regular season match will be played against the Red Dragons, a team the Cardinals are currently tied with in conference standings. This game most likely will be the deciding match for the team’s playoff hopes.

In the previous clash of these two teams a month ago the Cardinals took a road win 86-80. The win highlighted the talents of graduate student Dylan Trombley, who had a season high 28 points on blisteringly hot 5-6 shooting from deep. Playing against his former team, he might be in a position to perform well again.

The Red Dragons out-rebounded the Cardinals by a wide margin, 32-44. It is an area the Cardinals will need to improve in this meeting to keep Oneonta from getting the win.

The rebound column is the only glaring problem that this matchup presented for the Cardinals last time. The team recorded half the turnovers, 8 more blocks, nearly double the assists, and were more efficient from everywhere but the free throw line compared to their opposition.

With a playoff spot on the line, it will be no surprise that the Red Dragons will come in looking to rectify those mistakes in the rematch. The Cardinals will need to make a statement in order to earn its playoff spot over the other red, winged team.

The game against the Red Dragons will be Saturday at 4 p.m., and will be Senior Night for the team as well.

 

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