By JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team will be looking to bounce back this weekend.
The Cardinals return to SUNY Athletic Conference play at Geneseo tonight and at Brockport on Saturday.
Plattsburgh (7-4, 3-1) had a strong first semester, finishing with a 7-2 overall mark.
The second semester, however, got off to a rough start when the Cardinals dropped nonconference decisions to host and nationally-ranked Franklin & Marshall (71-55) and Salisbury (87-69) in the Sponaugle New Year’s Tournament in Lancaster, Pa. on Jan. 2 and 3.
“I think our attitude is good right now,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said. “Those two losses lingered a couple of days.
“But I think the guys are ready for a good effort this weekend. We had a lot of effort in some of our practices and then some lulls. But the last two practices we had were pretty good ones.”
It’s not going to get any easier for the Cardinals in what has already shaped up to be a highly competitive race to the conference playoffs.
With eight SUNYAC teams playing four conference games and two others playing five thus far, there are already no unbeaten teams.
“That tells you how competitive the conference is,” Curle said. “Every win you get on the road is a steal, and this weekend is no different. It’s a big weekend for us.”
Geneseo (7-4, 3-1) was the final unbeaten team to fall when the Knights lost 87-78 at Brockport (7-4, 2-2) on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t play on Tuesday, but we’re now tied for first place because of what happened when Geneseo lost to Brockport,” Curle said. “We went from second place into a tie for first.”
Geneseo had won five games in a row before the loss to the Golden Knights, while Brockport now has won five games in a row.
“Geneseo is a big and physical team that’s strong on the inside,” Curle said. “They will push the ball up the floor and attack the basket.
“They will still run the Princeton style of offense and will try to lull you to sleep. They have great ball movement and they shoot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line.”
In the first semester, Plattsburgh split a conference weekend on the road before winning back-to-back conference contests to close out the first semester.
Curle has used his entire roster of 16 players in many games thus far, and the Cardinals have two players averaging in double figures — Shamoy McIntosh (10.6 per game) and John Perez (10.4).
Perez leads the team in rebounding, averaging 7.1 a contest, while Chris Manning has dished out a team-high 6.0 assists a game.
“We expect leadership from certain guys,” Curle said. “Players like John Perez and Chris Manning particularly need to establish that we’re going to play hard.”