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PSU Men’s Basketball set to make 2010-11 season debut

Panthers begin new era under coach Damien Strahorn

              PLYMOUTH, N.H. – A new era begins for the Plymouth State University men’s basketball program next Monday when the Panthers make their season debut at the annual Jacob’s Bridge Through Autism Classic at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord.

              The Panthers are under new leadership this season as Damien Strahorn has taken over as head coach.  Strahorn has spent the past eight years as an assistant coach at Columbia University and Colby College.  He takes over from John Scheinman, who stepped down last spring after 10 seasons to become a Major Gifts Officer in the PSU Development Office.

  Head Coach Damien Strahorn

              Strahorn will make his debut at the annual Jacob’s Bridge tourney, when the Panthers face Colby-Sawyer College in the second game Monday at 7:30 p.m. at NHTI. Keene State College will meet Rivier College in the opener at 5:30 p.m. Now in its 11th year, the popular event helps raise money and awareness for families who have children with autism.

              The Panthers will head to Troy, N.Y., next weekend, Nov. 19-20, for the Rensselaer Tip-Off Tournament. PSU will meet Paul Smith’s College in the Friday night game at six o’clock, followed by RPI against Lyndon State College in the second game at 8:00 p.m., with the consolation and championship games set for Saturday afternoon.

              PSU will then play five of its next six games on the road to close out the semester.  The only home game before final exams is the Little East Conference opener at Foley Gymnasium on Saturday, Dec. 4, against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

              The Panthers’ schedule includes 24 regular season contests, including 14 Little East games.  The LEC Tournament takes place the last week of February, with a champion being crowned on Feb. 26 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament. 

2010-11 PSU Men’s Basketball Outlook

              The Panthers will have a new look on the court as well as the sideline after graduating four starters from last year’s 16-11 team.  Coach Strahorn is excited about the balance of this year’s squad and the senior leadership exhibited in the preseason.  

              “We have five seniors and they’ve been great,” says Strahorn.  “Two of them were significant contributors last season and we’ll build on their experience, and the other three were caught behind some seniors and didn’t see as much playing time, but they’ve taken advantage of the opportunities this season and are ready to step into increased roles.”

              The two leading returnees are perimeter player Ryan Lambert (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton) and power forward Tom Dowd (Portsmouth, N.H.).  Lambert is the leading scorer among the veterans, averaging 12.7 points per game last season and making 41 three-pointers, while Dowd was a presence down low, averaging 8.8 points an outing.  They both also collected more than five rebounds per contest.

              Dowd will be joined in the front court by senior center Bill Stowell (Stratham, N.H./Exeter), who was a solid contributor off the bench last season.  Lambert will start alongside senior guards Ian Dempsey (Andover, Mass.) and Matt Feehan (Nashua, N.H./South).

              “Those seniors alone give us a solid combination of interior play and perimeter players,” says Strahorn, “and we have similar balance off the bench.  We can attack teams in multiple ways.”

              Strahorn says that junior Brian Chergey (Bow, N.H.) and freshman Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) have been the most consistent reserves in the preseason and should see plenty of playing time.  Juniors Kyle Walker (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Jesse Sabolis (Stoughton, Mass.) and freshman Petey Skevas (Wethersfield, Conn.) have also earned some court time with their play in the preseason.

              Other Panthers who will look to contribute off the bench include sophomore Jonathan Lovering (Colchester, Vt.) and freshmen Kevin Cressy (Penacook, N.H./Merrimack Valley), Sheldon Benson (Pembroke, N.H./Pembroke Academy), Jay Arias (Lawrence, Mass./New Hampton School) and Rex Rossen (Seaford, N.Y.)

              Strahorn says the transition to a new coach and a new team has been excellent.

              “I’m fortunate to come into a program that has had success,” says Strahorn.  “I’m in a situation that’s a lot better than many first-year coaches.  The players have been tremendous in their willingness to learn and listen to a new concept and a new voice.   It’s been a team effort, and I think we’re going to have a good year.” 

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