January 11, 2013

Blue Knights present challenge for Cards

By Tim Pulsifer

---- — The stage is now set as the Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team resumes conference play this weekend at Geneseo and Brockport.

The Cardinals, who have played just three games — all nonconference games — over the past month due to the semester break, will be back on the floor tonight to take on the Blue Knights followed by a matchup with the Golden Eagles on Saturday afternoon.

Geneso (7-3, 3-1 SUNYAC) figures to present Plattsburgh with one of if not its toughest in-conference tests to date. The Blue Knights, led by Shannon McGinnis, Melissa Graham, Katie Peterson and Allison McKenna, are as talented and deep a team as any team the Cardinals will see this year. Geneseo has already defeated Cortland (69-44) and Oneonta (49-39), and its only loss in the SUNY Athletic Conference was a 73-69 setback in overtime at New Paltz.

“There’s no doubt it’s going to be a huge test for us,” Plattsburgh coach Cheryl Cole said. “They’re one of the top teams in the conference this year. They are a big, talented and versatile team with a lot of weapons. It’s gonna be a big challenge, but it will be up to us to stay aggressive on defense and on the boards and try and take them out of their comfort zone. If we can do that, I think we can have some success.”

“We definitely need to be aggressive on the offensive end as well,” Cole continued. “When we have a good shot, we need to take it. We can’t hesitate or play tentative against a team like this and expect to be successful. This will also be a big test as to how well we can defend the paint as well as on the perimeter. Like I said, this is going to be a very tough one for us, but I feel we will be up to the challenge.”

The Cardinals (7-3, 3-1) are off to one of their best starts in recent history, having closed out the first semester with three consecutive impressive wins over Cortland on the road and Fredonia and Buffalo State at Memorial Hall. Plattsburgh’s only conference setback was a 56-48 loss at league-leading Oswego on Nov. 30.

“We’ve worked hard and played great defense so far, but this is where we need to prove how far we’ve come and that we’re ready to take it to the next level,” Cole said. “This is a big weekend and a big test on the road for us. It won’t be easy, but I think we need to go at least 1-1 this weekend. If we can do that, I think we can build some positive momentum as we move forward with our season.”

The Cardinals continue to be led by veterans Kathleen Payne, Brittany Marshall, Brooke Reifinger and Dana Nucaro as well as a strong and improving core of newcomers in Tequilla Lloyd, Misha Green and Devona Paul.

Geneseo is definitely the stronger of this weekend’s two conference opponents, but it would be a mistake to overlook Brockport, particulaly on the road.

The Golden Eagles, led by Cicilia Sigrist, are currently 1-3 in the conference and 4-7 overall. But their early schedule has been brutal with the three league losses coming at the hands of SUNYAC powers Oswego, New Paltz and Geneseo.