If the past is any indicator of the future, the Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team is in for a successful weekend.
In the 12 years since head coach Tom Curle has come to PSUC, the Cardinals have had overwhelming success at home in postseason play. When given the chance to compete for the SUNYAC tournament crown in their own gym with Curle at the helm, the Cards are undefeated, winning all nine contests. This advantage has not gone unnoticed and everyone is ecstatic at the opportunity to make something that has been within their grasp the last two seasons happen on their own court in front of their fans.
In both 2013 and 2014, PSUC lost in the championship of the SUNYAC tournament.
Curle believes that behind the combination of senior leadership, the pain from defeat the last two seasons and the home -court advantage, this year’s team can finally accomplish what has proved so difficult the last two seasons.
“I think they’re hungry,” Curle said. “I think the disappointment of not having won is going to drive them.”
Ezra Hodgson is not leading the Cardinals in any statistical categories this season, but this does not mean he is not a huge leader on his team.
He brings a handful of intangibles as well as a high basketball knowledge, among other things, to the table. Hodgson also brings experience in big games and has had some of the best games of his career in these situations.
In the Cards’ SUNYAC tournament run last season, Hodgson averaged 17 points and five rebounds. Hodgson expressed how much this part of the season matters to the seniors whose last chance it is to win a SUNYAC championship.
“We haven’t been able to win it all the last three years,” Hodgson said. “It would be the perfect way to end our senior year.”
If the Cards do win all their games this weekend, they will receive guaranteed entry to the NCAA tournament.
The past two seasons, PSUC has received at-large bids, meaning they did not win the conference but had a good enough season to still be selected for the tournament. Though the Cards have had a strong season, this at-large bid is in no way a guarantee. A tournament victory and automatic bid would send them off to the NCAA tournament in a way the current team members have not experienced.
Even with the home court advantage, winning a conference tournament is no easy task, and it is a necessity that the Cards focus on both of their games this weekend. They have dropped multiple games this season on the second contest of a double-header, so if they win on Friday, keeping that winning mentality and focus will be vital.
On Friday they will face Brockport, who they split their two contests with this season, and who beat Buffalo State to advance into the semifinals. If they win their game against Brockport, they will face the winner of Geneseo and Oswego on Saturday who defeated Oneonta in the previous round.
The Cards’ combined record against these remaining teams this season is 4-2, so if they play the way they did against them during their wins this season, the Cards may just be cutting down the nets come Saturday.
Email Bailey Carlin at email@example.com