Tonight becomes a pivotal game for the Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team.
With SUNY Athletic Conference play beginning this weekend on the road, the Cardinals get a final tuneup with a 7 p.m. nonconference game against Keene State at Memorial Hall.
Following tonight’s contest, Plattsburgh heads out to play at Oswego Friday and defending conference champion Cortland Saturday.
“It’s a big week for us and we want to come out and play to the best of our ability against Keene State,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said. “I think there’s a lot for us to improve on and show we’re ready for conference play.
“No doubt, it’s a difficult road trip coming up for us.”
The Cardinals (2-1) last played Nov. 19 in their home opener, an 82-69 victory over St. Lawrence University.
“To be honest, I can’t say we’ve been ultra smooth since returning to practice,” Curle said. “We are very competitive, but sometimes we don’t slow it down enough to learn what we need to learn.”
Plattsburgh is averaging 78 points a game and surrendering 72.
Shamoy McIntosh (15.0), John Perez (13.7), Shavar Fields (13.7) and Jordan Moody (10.0) are the leading scorers on the team. Perez is averaging a double-double with 12.7 rebounds a contest. Chris Manning is averaging 4.7 assists per game and has recorded 18 steals.
“It’s been only three games so far, but we haven’t played to the best of our ability,” Curle said.
“We’ve got some tools, but staying focused at times is our biggest problem. There are no 20-point plays in basketball. Sometimes we feel like we can blow someone out rather than taking it one possession at a time.”
The Cardinals and Owls played a regular season game against one another last December and Keene State dropped a 70-64 decision at home.
This year, Keene State (0-4) last played Nov. 26 in an 82-65 loss at Springfield College.
The Owls are averaging 71 points a game and giving up 79. Nate Howard (12.8) and Tre Tipton (12.2) are the leading scorers for Keene State.
“Looking closely, they lost a lot of key players from last year,” Curle said. “But, on the other hand, they brought in a lot of very young and talented players.
“They’ve got a 7-footer (Howard). Right away, that’s a threat to us in terms of his ability. He’s a sophomore and it’s only a matter of time before he comes into his own.”