PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The men's basketball season at Plymouth State College begins this weekend when the Panthers travel to the University of Maine-Farmington for the Hight Tournament.
The Panthers will face Fisher College (Maine) in the opening game of the tourney Friday at 6:00 p.m., with UMF hosting Colby-Sawyer College in the 8:00 p.m. contest. The consolation game is Saturday at 2:00 p.m., followed by the championship at 4:00 p.m.
PSC will play its home opener at Foley Gymnasium next Tuesday, Nov. 26, against Johnson State (Vt.) College (7:00 p.m.). It is one of only two home games for the Panthers the first semester.
The Little East Conference portion of the schedule begins on Saturday, Dec. 7, at UMass Dartmouth. The Panthers are seeking the LEC title after finishing fourth during the regular season the past two years with an 8-6 conference record.
PSC will again take part in the Division III Granite State Challenge, helping promote Jacob's Bridge Through Autism, on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. Plymouth State faces Colby-Sawyer in the second game (7:30 p.m.), following the New England College-Keene State encounter.
The Panthers will play a 25-game schedule, including 14 conference matchups. The Little East Tournament begins the last week of February, with a champion being crowned on Mar. 1 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2002-03 P.S.C. Men's Basketball Outlook
The Panthers will be aiming for their second straight post-season berth this year. PSC is coming off a successful 2001-02 campaign that included an 18-11 overall record and a runner-up finish in the ECAC New England Tournament.
The strength and depth on the 2002-03 Panther squad will be in the backcourt, according to fourth-year head coach John Scheinman.
"We have three really talented guys back there," said Scheinman. "Division III is guard-oriented, and we're happy to have three good ones that can put a lot of pressure on the opponents. It's like having three point guards out there."
The trio, who all averaged 10 points a game last season, includes senior co-captain Kenny Stewart (Londonderry, N.H.), junior co-captain Mike Loughlin (Manchester, N.H./West) and sophomore Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine). Stewart is a four-year starter at the off-guard spot, and can also play small forward. Loughlin, who became a starter last season, is recovering from an off-season injury, and the speedy, explosive Pelotte is primed for a strong year after an impressive freshman campaign.
The Panthers also have former two-year starting guard and senior co-captain Dan Craig (Chelmsford, Mass.) on the roster, but he missed all of last season with a chronic knee injury and has been slow coming back this year. Senior Jeff Mullin (Derry, N.H.) is also attempting a comeback after missing an entire season. Additional depth at guard will come from freshmen Peter Hutchins (New London, N.H.), Mike Sullivan (Brookline, N.H.), and Brandon Boggs (Center Strafford, N.H.).
The PSC frontcourt unit will have to make up for the loss of last year's top two scorers and all-conference performers Jason Blackburn and Frankie Finklea. Scheinman said it will have to be a group effort, led by junior center Ryan Chicoine (Gorham, Maine).
"Ryan could be the key to our team," admitted Scheinman, "with his ability to control the game inside with rebounding and a post presence. I look for him to average a double-double."
Scheinman added that freshman back-up center Kevin Boutilier (North Andover, Mass.) has showed great promise in the early going.
One of the forward spots is emerging as a battle between sophomores Matt Budrow (Round Pond, Maine) and J.J. Truman (Enfield, N.H.). Budrow has shown marked improvement missing most of his freshman season with an injury, and Truman is a transfer from New Hampshire Technical Institute. Freshmen Rick Roaf (Amesbury, Mass.) and Charles Gaddy (Hartford, Conn.) could also blend into the power forward spots.
Sophomore Anthony Oglesby (Brooklyn, N.Y.), a transfer from the University of New Hampshire, takes over from Finklea in the small forward position. He plays the same type of slashing and sometimes electrifying game.
PSC also has a couple of veterans who could help out off the bench at forward in senior co-captain Mike Kalbfell (Somers, N.Y.) and junior Harold Roy (East Boston, Mass.). Rounding out the roster is sophomore forward Joey Mattson (Center Harbor, N.H.).
"We have improved our depth from last year," said Scheinman. "We want to be the same kind of team we've had in the past - strong in rebounding and defense and playing our best basketball in February and March. That will give us a chance to reach our goal of winning the Little East."
2002-03 PSC Men's Basketball Roster 2002-03 PSC Men's Basketball Schedule