January 7, 2014, 7:30 pm
Middlebury (6-3) vs. Plattsburgh State (6-2)
Nine games in to the 2013-14 schedule, the Panthers are in a low place. Thanks to an ugly loss against Salve Regina last weekend — the worst we game have ever seen Middlebury play — they already have their most regular season losses since 2008-09, and are unranked in the D3Hoops.com Top 25 for the first time since the 2009-10 preseason. That said, this team is focused on being at its best for conference play, which starts Friday. Tonight’s game against Plattsburgh State represents the last chance to build some confidence and find an identity against a tough opponent before squaring off with Bates and Tufts this weekend. In a welcome reprieve after two months of excess traveling, this matchup will be at home.
Plattsburgh’s two losses have been by a combined seven points, and they look likely to once again contend for the SUNYAC championship. Plattsburgh has made the NCAA Tournament five times in the past eight seasons. Last year, Middlebury came away with a 80-73 win over the Cardinals behind 42 combined points (14-21 FG) from seniors Nolan Thompson and Peter Lynch.
G Chris Manning – 6’0″ Senior – 4.6 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.4 spg 56/27/40
G Shamoy McIntosh – 6’2″ Junior – 15.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 36/32/76, reigning SUNYAC player of the week
G John Perez – 6’3″ Senior – 10.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 59/X/62
G Jordan Moody – 6’2″ Junior – 11.8 ppg, 53/46/74
F Shavar Fields – 6’6″ Senior – 13.9 ppg, 4/8 rpg 58/X/78
F Ezra Hodgson – 6’6″ Junior – 5.4 ppg, 40/32/67
G Mike Mitchell – 5’7″ Junior – 7.2 ppg, 55/60/83
McIntosh presents the biggest challenge and is coming off of a 22 point (7-13 FG), 7 rebound performance. Fields appears to have won the starting spot from Hodgson with his high level of offensive production (25 points per 40 minutes). Middlebury should have significant height advantages at the three and four. Manning’s 3.4 steals per game are impressive and suggest Joey Kizel might have to stay in the game and at the point for close to 40 minutes.
Key to the Game
Dylan Sinnickson and Matt Daley – Though we have no word from the team, we expect both of these guys to play for the first time in the new year. When projecting the rest of the season, nothing is more important than the play of Sinnickson and Daley. Two very capable players who have worked hard to improve their games heading into this season but have made inconsistent contributions, Middlebury needs them both clicking to make a play for the conference title. If they do play, it will be the first game in which Middlebury’s top seven players — Kizel, St. Amour, Merryman, Jensen, Roberts, Daley, Sinnickson — are all healthy. How they play tonight is likely to dictate the outcome but will also tell us a lot about how far this team can go in NESCAC play.