Men's basketball loses last two, fails to make playoffs

In need of just one win to clinch a SUNYAC playoff berth, the men's basketball team came up just short against SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday night, losing 72-69 before losing in similar fashion to SUNY Potsdam the next day to close out their season earlier than expected.

Head coach Steve Minton said that in weeks past, the relatively young Geneseo team came out on the winning end of close games, but in this final weekend of play the team couldn't pull out a much-needed win. Friday's game against first-place Plattsburgh began like many of the Knights' games this season.

Both teams played each other even for most of the first half until the Cardinals managed to create some separation through a strong full-court press and went into halftime leading 31-21. The Knights' offense was faulty, shooting only 28 percent in the first half.

The start of the second half saw Geneseo commit three costly turnovers, which led to easy points for the Cardinals. "Once we started breaking the press the game evened out," Minton said. Geneseo drew within one point with 3 minutes, 16 seconds left to play. During the next three minutes the Knights managed to score but according to Minton, the Knights couldn't find that defensive stop and Plattsburgh pulled away with a three-point win.

Senior Brandon Simpson led the team with 19 points while fellow senior Kyle Stevens scored 13 points and added 12 rebounds. Sophomore Abe Miller continued his consistent contribution, notching his second double-double in a row with 16 points and 11 rebounds while fellow sophomore Mike Hoy added 12 points of his own.

Entering Saturday's contest Geneseo needed a victory or a SUNY Oswego loss to make the eight-team conference playoff tournament, but neither of those came true as the Knights lost to Potsdam by a score of 68-66. The first half saw plenty of action with Stevens scoring 19 of his career-high 26 points in the first 20 minutes. The half ended with an offensive foul on Geneseo that gave Potsdam foul shots and possession at the opening of the second half.

Minton described the second half as "back-and-forth play, but we had our opportunities at the end." Geneseo managed a last-second desperation shot that could have tied the game, but Potsdam held on for the two-point win. Overall, Minton said the team did play even with their opponents all weekend except for "little breakdowns here or there defensively."

Although their season ended early this year, Geneseo men's basketball can already look forward to next year based on the play of the underclassmen, especially a core group of sophomores. Junior Mike Baker, who scored nine points and seven assists on Saturday, was second in the conference in assists, averaging 5.2 helpers a game.

Minton said sophomores John Drazan and Ethan Estabrooks have improved a lot this season and will keep contributing next season. Drazan and Miller share time at center, each fulfilling separate roles. Rounding out the sophomores is Mike Hoy, who Minton said "can be one of the best three-point shooters in the conference."