POTSDAM – The SUNY Potsdam men’s basketball team enters the new season with a different outlook and valuable experience under its belt after a tough 2011-12 finish.
The 2012-13 season is expected to feature an up tempo style of play and showcase a team that has dedicated the offseason to becoming a complete unit on the court.
“We did not shoot the basketball well in the second half of our season and it almost became contagious,” said 10th-year head coach Sherry Dobbs.
“We addressed this issue in the offseason with our current players. They spent a lot of time working on their shooting ability and extending their three-point range. We also addressed it in recruiting. I think that some of the guys we brought in shoot the ball very well and that will help us open things up a little bit on the floor.”
The coaching staff has taken a new approach to the upcoming season and hasset a standard of achievement for the Bears squad.
“I think your goal every year should be to win your conference and get a home playoff game. That is something that we are going to strive to work for,” said Dobbs. “However, one of the things that we have talked about with our guys is the process of getting better. They have to approach every practice and every workout with the mindset that we are going to give 100% and improve every single day.”
The Bears will miss former captain Wesley Francisco, forward Brad Drysdale (7.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg.), and guard Skip Schwartz. However, they return eight letterwinners with starting experience and nine new faces that will contribute right away.
Leadership will be a strong point for Potsdam as two of the three captains resume their role from last year. Senior All-SUNYAC forward Curtis Pierce (Brooklyn, N.Y./George Westinghouse Vocational), senior guard Josh Lambert (Brooklyn, N.Y./East New York Transit Tech), and junior forward Rob Duquette (Peru, N.Y./Peru) will lead the Bears.
Pierce returns after leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg), rebounds (8.3 rpg.) and steals (37). Dobbs praises Pierce for his model of consistency and his abilities as a basketball player. In his sophomore season, Duquette started all 25 games for the Bears. He led the team in free throw shooting percentage (.740), was second on the team in rebounds (4.9) and third on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg). Lambert played in all 25 games for the Bears, recording 6.2 points-per-game and 21 steals.
Dobbs notes that the strong leadership of the team will help the newcomers and provide stability on the court.
“The captains are a great group of individuals,” said Dobbs. “They lead by example. Rob and Curtis are our two hardest working guys and Josh works hard as well. They all have a different leadership style. Curtis is more vocal, Rob organizes things and Josh is a mix between the two. I think we are fortunate to have these three guys as our captains.”
Junior Greg Torchon (Spring Valley, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional) and sophomore Zac Adams (Potsdam, N.Y./Potsdam) return at the guard position for Potsdam. Dobbs describes Torchon as “a combo guard that will play the point and off the ball.” Adams is a versatile player who has improved tremendously, having played in all 25 games last year as a freshman.
“I think a lot of times you’ll see that there is a big jump for an athlete from his freshman to sophomore year because they know what to expect physically, what to expect with practice and they know how to prepare themselves. I think you will see that with Zac this year,” said Dobbs.
The forward position will feature a versatile group of returnees that will stretch the floor and create mismatches on the offensive end of the court.
Three other experienced players will accompany Pierce and Duquette and create depth at the position. Senior Corey Ellis (Beacon, N.Y./Delaware Valley) and juniors Colin Peterson (Hilton, N.Y./Hilton) and Jake Klossner (Tupper Lake, N.Y./Tupper Lake) will look to make an impact early in the season.
“I expect some good things from Corey coming in, not only to hit the 15 ft. jump shot, but to score around the basket as well,” said Dobbs.
“Peterson is a 6’7” forward who shoots the ball well. The term everybody uses now is ‘stretch four’ and that would be a good description of Colin. He can stretch the floor with his ability to shoot the ball and he also has a good post game. Klossner is another ‘stretch four’ forward who shoots the three ball very well.”
There are several newcomers that will see the floor this season. Senior guard Mark Lake, Jr. (Harlem, N.Y./All Hallows) joins the Bears after transferring from Division II St. Joseph’s College of Indiana. He is another combo guard that shoots the ball extremely well and shows an amount of maturity in his game.
Junior guard Tom Graf (Elbridge, N.Y./Jordan-Elbridge) comes to Potsdam from Onondaga Community College.
Graf is an athletic player who will add depth to the guard position. Junior forward Brandon Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y./Boys & Girls) transferred in from SUNY Sullivan and is described by Dobbs as a player that can defend positions one through four.
In addition to the transfers, Potsdam adds six freshmen to the team.
Guards Joe Estramonte (Greenwich, N.Y./Greenwich Central), Frank Bushen (Rochester, N.Y.) and Mitch Lamerson (Dansville, N.Y. / Dansville) make the Bears even deeper. Forwards Ryan Porter (Sidney, N.Y./Bainbridge-Guilford), Rob Lamont (Pine Plains, N.Y./Stissing Mountain), and Tariq McIntyre (Brooklyn, N.Y./Thomas Jefferson) highlight the future of the Bears and could see minutes later in the season.
Dobbs is excited about his incoming freshmen.
“Joe really understands how to be a point guard and how to run a team,” Dobbs said. “McIntyre is a player with a lot of potential. He is a raw physical kid who has great hands and feet. With some work he will make a big impact for us. Rob Lamont is a great rebounder and has really impressed us with his willingness to learn. Ryan Porter is a very physical, tough kid and Frank and Mitch really shoot the ball well. All of these guys are going to be good players.”
Potsdam will face its usual tough SUNYAC slate this season. In addition, the challenging non-conference schedule Dobbs put together will prepare the Bears for the physicality of the SUNYAC. The Bears will face New York foes Ithaca, Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Utica, and Manhattanville College.
They will also travel south to New Jersey to take on Ramapo College on Jan. 6.