PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh State women’s basketball will look to use its home-court advantage as it hosts the Hampton Inn/Microtel Cardinal Classic this weekend.
The Cardinals will look to improve on their 1-2 record as they look for back-to-back victories after their victory over St. Lawrence Tuesday night.
Standing in Plattsburgh’s way, however, is a much improved Morrisville State team. The game will tip at 6 p.m., followed by Clarkson taking on Lebanon Valley.
“I know (Morrisville State) plays very hard, they’ll be scrappy and aggressive,” Cardinals coach Cheryl Cole said. “It will definitely be a good game for us to lock down and be better than Tuesday.”
Plattsburgh is coming off its first win of the season, an 88-59 rout of the Saints. However, as impressive as that victory might have been, Cole still wants to see her team improve.
“Our goal is to stay at that level and fine tune some things,” Cole said. “(We want to) raise the bar with our execution and we want to maintain that level for 40 minutes.”
The Mustangs (1-1) are also coming off their first win of the season and will no doubt like to increase their win streak as well.
They are led offensively by junior guard Jennel Paul, who is averaging 12 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
“(Paul) averages nearly a double-double a game She will be pretty much our focus,” Cole said. “We’ll make sure to contain her and force her to make some tough shots.”
Freshman Jordan Anderson is handling the starting point guard duties for the Mustangs and is averaging 12 points and four rebounds a game thus far this season.
Cole was aware of Anderson’s early emergence for Morrisville and said her team will “try and put pressure” on her throughout the game.
The Cardinals are expected to face a zone defense for the first time this season. Cole made sure to work on their zone offense this week during practice.
Plattsburgh looked good in the half-court Tuesday, which Cole was happy about, but she said her team could be even “sharper” and would like to see “even more out of our offense.”
Another area Cole stressed in practice this week is the ability to close out on 3-point shots. Her team has allowed the opposition to average 36 percent from distance.
“(We’re) not doing a good job defending the arc. We’re giving away too many rhythm-three’s,” Cole said. “That shouldn’t be happening; we really worked at closing out and pressuring in to help D. I’d like to see us defend the arc much better.”
The other two teams in this weekend’s tournament are Clarkson University and Lebanon Valley College.
Clarkson (2-1) is averaging over 70 points per-game, while shooting 40 percent from the floor. The Knights are led by junior Cara Manfredi and sophomore Ashley Loggins.
Manfredi is averaging 22 points through three games, while shooting a staggering 44 percent from the field and 37 percent from three.
Loggins is second on the team in scoring, behind Manfredi, with 16 a game, while also averaging seven rebounds per game. Like Manfredi, Loggins’ shooting touch has been accurate, as she is averaging nearly 45 percent from the floor.
“The bulk of their roster is back and they have gained a lot of experience,” Cole said. “They definitely play hard and they are definitely a bigger team.”
The most impressive résumé in the tournament has to belong to Lebanon Valley (3-0). An NCAA tournament team last year, the Dutchman seem to have begun where they left off.
Lebanon is averaging nearly 83 points per game, while keeping their opponent point-per-game average to 61. As a team they are shooting nearly 47 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three, while also averaging 17 assists a game.
“They brought back a lot of experience,” Cole said. “They have a high-potent offense.”
The Dutchmen are led by their 6 foot, 1 inch senior forward Caitlin Bach, who is averaging nearly 16 points and 13 rebounds a game. Bach has also been hot from the floor, where she has been able to connect on 16 of her 32 shot attempts.
Cole admitted Bach will “definitely gain a lot of attention” for Clarkson and whoever else they may face in the tournament.
Lebanon also gets good production from its junior guard Kiely Chaklos, and 6 foot freshman forward Lexie Lantz. Chaklos is shooting 54 percent from the field while recording 14 points per game. Lantz has had a solid outing so far, as she is shooting a stunning 63 percent (15-24) from the floor, which is good for nearly 12 points per game.
“If you look at a piece of paper, they look like the team to beat, but good thing games aren’t played on paper,” Cole said. “At the same time our focus firstly is Saturday. We need to take care of our home court.”
Thus far this season the Cardinals average 63 points per game, while holding their opponents to 61 points. As a team, Plattsburgh has recorded about 43 rebounds and 13 assists per game, while also winning the turnover margin 17-20 through its first three games.
They are led by senior Kathleen Payne, who is averaging 17 points, six rebounds and just over three assists per game.
Junior starting point guard Brittany Marshall is second on the team in scoring with nearly 12 points and five rebounds per game.
Freshman back-up point guard Jax Miller, though, has exceeded expectations for Cole this early in the season.
“It’s tough to be a freshman in the college game; it’s even tougher to be a freshman point guard,” Cole said. “(She’s) not making mistakes, she’s been ready since day one to compete and that’s rare.”
For Cole, she knows each player can get better, but said her two veteran forwards, Tequilla Lloyd and Misha Green, could both “step up more.”
“I want (Lloyd) to dominate in the paint. I’m looking for her to really dominate and bring a little more emotion to the floor, and to have more sense of urgency,” Cole said. “(Green) is such a good athlete, she doesn’t realize how much she can do. Defensively she’s got great stuff, but she can do more. Once she gets confidence and comfortable enough, nobody can stop her.”
The winners of each game will play in the championship game on Sunday, at 3 p.m. The consolation game will be held at 1 p.m. at Memorial Gym.