January 25, 2013

Balance leads to success for Cards


---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team has just two players averaging in double figures — one at 12.3 points a game and the other at 11.2.

The leading rebounder is averaging 7.2 a game and the leading assist maker is at 5.4 a game.

Not eye-popping numbers.

Plattsburgh, however, is still having success so far in 2012-13 because of the sum of its parts.

The Cardinals, who are on the road for SUNY Athletic Conference games tonight against Buffalo State and Saturday at Fredonia, are 7-2 in the conference and 11-5 overall. Included in the overall record are seven games against nonconference opponents who have combined for a 73-42 record.

“We have a lot of different pieces,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said. “We have a number of players who can score 20 points on a given night, but we don’t know who our leading scorer will be when we take the floor.

“But that’s the nature of our team, and our players are very much accepting their roles. Actually, 5.4 assists a game is pretty good.”

For the record, Shamoy McIntosh is averaging 12.3 points a game, and John Perez is at 11.2. Perez is hauling down 7.2 rebounds a game, and Chris Manning is averaging 5.4 assists.

Also key in the Cardinals’ success has been a deep bench.

“We are trying to reduce our bench a little as we get deeper into the conference schedule,” Curle said. “But we are getting big contributions off the bench. Reggie (Williams) played great a few games ago, Mike (Mitchell) two games ago, and Edward (Correa) hit in double figures against Potsdam.

“This is like kindergarten class. We have some players who could score more points, but they’ve learned how to share. The sum is greater than its parts.”

The Cardinals, who have won four games in a row, can’t afford to let up. Plattsburgh is in a stretch of five road games in succession, including an 85-63 win at Potsdam on Tuesday when the Cardinals played one of their best second halves of the season.

“We had five games in a row on the road and now we have four,” Curle said. “We feel good right now about our first goal, which is making the playoffs.

“Once we secure one of the six playoff spots, we can adjust our goals and play to secure a home game in the playoffs.”

The Cardinals recorded home wins over Buffalo State and Fredonia earlier in the season, defeating Fredonia by a 72-58 score on Dec. 7 and then a 93-85 victory over Buffalo State on Dec. 8.

Playing SUNYAC games on the road, however, is a different matter.

The Bengals (9-6, 4-5), who dropped a 97-81 contest at Brockport on Tuesday, are a high-scoring team, averaging 85.9 points a game and surrendering 85.3 a contest. They are No. 1 in the conference in team offense and last in defense.

“We should be OK playing an up-tempo game,” Curle said. “What we need to do is take care of the basketball, however.”

Buffalo State’s Roderick Epps is first in the SUNYAC in scoring, averaging 21.6 a game, while Jake Simmons is third at 19.8. Anjar Majak is a third Bengals player in double figures, with a 12.3 mark.

“Buffalo State has two kids who are as good scorers are you will find,” Curle said. “While we have players who could go off for 20 points on a given night, they have two who can go off for 40.

“Simmons will go over 2,000 points for his career and could break the all-time school scoring record held by former NBA player Randy Smith. We have to limit the scoring opportunities for one or both players (Epps and Simmons), and that’s not an easy task.”

Fredonia (5-10, 1-8), meanwhile, is not having a good season, but the game still concerns Curle.

“We’ve always had problems at Fredonia,” he said. “It’s a different type of floor, and you have to keep your focus.

“But we have to take care of the Buffalo State game first.”

The Blue Devils, who fell at conference-leading Geneseo, 77-64, on Tuesday, are led in scoring by Tyrone Clark (12.1). Fredonia has four players averaging in double figures.