PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University men's basketball team will be out for its fifth consecutive post-season berth in 2005-06, and the journey begins next Tuesday in the friendly confines of Foley Gymnasium.
The newest version of Panther Basketball will take on Castleton State in the opener Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It is the first of four home games during the first semester at Foley Gym.
PSU will also appear two other times in the Granite State this month. The Panthers have a non-conference game at Rivier College in Nashua on Sunday, Nov. 27, and will participate in the annual Jacob's Bridge Through Autism Classic, hosted by N.H. Technical Institute in Concord on Nov. 29. PSU will meet New England College at 5:30 p.m. in the first game of the classic, followed by the Keene State/Colby-Sawyer match-up at 7:30 p.m. The annual event helps raise money and awareness for families who have children with autism.
The Panthers' schedule includes 25 regular season games, including 14 Little East Conference encounters. The LEC Tournament begins the last week of February, with a champion being crowned on Feb. 25 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2005-06 PSU Men's Basketball Outlook
With 12 returning veterans, including three starters, and a group of talented newcomers, the Plymouth State men's basketball team is gearing up for another successful campaign in 2005-06.
Coming off four consecutive playoff berths, and eight in the past
10 years, PSU has plenty of experience on this year's squad.
Seventh-year head coach John Scheinman
(right) says the Panthers will do just fine, even without
Nick Pelottte, the flashy All-American guard and 2,000-point scorer
over the past four years.
"Nick was a great player for us and we'll certainly miss him on the court," says Scheinman. "He's one of those guys you just don't replace. So it wouldn't be fair to compare this year's team to last year's. We have a lot of the same guys but we should be a different team."
PSU finished 19-10 overall last season after finishing third in the Little East Conference during the regular season, losing in heartbreaking fashion in a dramatic double overtime thriller in the championship game of the LEC Tournament, and falling in the first round of the ECAC New England Tournament. But, as Scheinman says, this is a new year.
"We're two-deep at every position," says Scheinman. "We have five guys back who played quite a bit, and we have some kids that haven't played much who are pretty good. They've waited for their opportunity and are now ready to step up, and I'm fully confident they will."
Junior forward Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y./St. Edmund Prep) leads the group of returnees. He's was a First Team All-Conference performer last season after averaging 20.4 points and 10.4 rebounds and setting the PSU single-season field goal percentage record (62.6). He should again be one of the top players in the conference.
Senior tri-captain and center Kevin Boutilier (North Andover, Mass.) and junior forward Mike Walcek (Dover, N.H.) also return to the starting line-up. Boutilier, a three-year starter who provides a solid post presence, averaged 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds a year ago. Walcek is a strong outside shooter who should increase his 6.4 points a game average.
Look for senior tri-captain Charles Gaddy (Hartford, Conn./Watkinson School) to also log quality minutes in the front court. He has continued to improve and adds leadership to the team. Junior Devin Ruocco (Dover, N.H.) and sophomore Tim Russell (Littleton, N.H.) are also returning forwards who will be looking to contribute, along with junior Andy Cary (Cumberland, Maine/Greely) and sophomore John Belcher (Hamden, Conn.)
PSU will have a new starting backcourt. Senior Mike Sullivan (Brookline, N.H.) and sophomore Phil Bourassa (Old Orchard Beach, Maine/Biddeford) will handle point guard duties, with seniors Mark Dunham (Salem, N.H./Pinkerton) and Brandon Boggs (Center Strafford, N.H./Coe-Brown) seeing most of the time at the other spot. Junior Jesse Bopp (Henniker, N.H./Bishop Brady) adds depth. The four newcomers on the team include three freshmen - center Sean Hanlon (Hampstead, N.H.)/Central Catholic), guard Ben Huntington (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton) and forward Chris Wilkinson (Newmarket, N.H.) -- and sophomore forward J.J. Oliver (Milton, Vt.), a transfer from Daniel Webster College.
"Our goal every year is to win the Little East Conference, and that hasn't changed," says Scheinman. "We want to be playing well in March so we can challenge for the title."
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