November 25, 2012

Plattsburgh State men set for No. 4 Middlebury

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team is playing an ambitious non-conference schedule in 2012-13.

And it doesn’t get much better when the Cardinals host Middlebury College at 4 p.m. today at Memorial Hall.

The Panthers, ranked No. 4 in the pre-season NCAA Division III poll, are off to a 3-0 start to the season, including Tuesday’s 117-81 rout at Green Mountain College.

“The past five years, Middlebury has developed a system the players believe in,” said Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle. “They’ve had players who have worked hard in the weight room for conditioning — and it shows.

“They’ve developed a culture of working hard and they’re fundamentally sound with a high basketball I.Q. They don’t make many mistakes and when you do, they make you pay for it.”

Jake Wolfin, Hunter Merryman and Nolan Thompson are all averaging 13.7 points a game for Middlebury, while Peter Lynch is at 13.0.

“Defensively, they play a lot of zone,” said Curle. “They’re physical but they don’t foul a lot.

“They will push the ball when they have the opportunity. And they have a lot of depth — as much as we do.”

Last year, the Panthers, coached by former University of Vermont standout Jeff Brown, finished with a 26-4 record, including a 73-54 home win over Plattsburgh State, and won two NCAA Division III Tournament games before losing to the University of Scranton.

The year before, Middlebury went 28-2 and advanced all the way to the Final Four in Division III.

Plattsburgh is 2-0 on the season after winning its Cardinal Classic last weekend and Curle got an early look at his entire roster.

The Cardinals, however, have a long way to go.

“We found out a lot about our team, including having to shore up on our weaknesses,” said Curle. “We’re not even close to a finished product yet. This game is going to be a tough, physical one for us and it will tell us a lot.

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