Panthers begin new era under coach Andrew Novick
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – A new era begins for the Plymouth State University men's basketball program next Tuesday 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 Andrew Novick has taken over as head coach. Novick is a native of Maine and a former assistant coach at Tulane University. He takes over from Damien Strahorn, who left PSU after last season to become head coach at his alma mater, Colby College.
|Head Coach Andrew Novick|
Novick will make his debut at the annual Jacob's Bridge tourney, when the Panthers face Rivier College in the first game Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at NHTI. Keene State College will meet Colby-Sawyer College in the second game at 7:30 p.m. Now in its 12th year, the popular event helps raise money and awareness for families who have children with autism.
The Panthers will head to Western Massachusetts next weekend, Nov. 18-19, for the Ken Wright Invitational, co-hosted by Amherst College and Elms College. PSU will meet Amherst in Friday's second game at 8:00 p.m. Both of Friday's first-round games will be played at Elms, while Saturday's consolation (1:00 p.m.) and championship (3:00 p.m.) contests will be played at Amherst.
PSU will then play four of its next six games at home to close out the semester. The home opener is Tuesday, Nov. 22, against Castleton State College, and the Little East Conference debut is Saturday, Dec. 3, against Rhode Island College.
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. 25 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2011-12 PSU Men's Basketball Outlook
The Panthers will have a new look on the court as well as the sideline after graduating all five starters from last year's team. Everyone is a first-year player for Coach Novick, and the coach is just taking it one day at a time at this point.
"We have a good group of guys who are working very hard," said Novick. "It's an inexperienced bunch, with no returning starters, so there will be a lot of guys who will be seeing significant minutes for the first time in their careers, including some freshmen. The big thing right now is to get better on an everyday basis."
PSU has eight returning veterans from last year, but just one of the top six scorers. The challenge, according to Coach Novick, will be to blend the returnees with the three transfers and three freshmen to get the most out of each player.
"We're relatively deep, so my sense is that we will play 9-11 guys per game," said Novick, "and hope that our depth will wear down some teams that relay on fewer players. The primary focus is working hard every day and get better as a team every day."
Senior Brian Chergey is the top returning scorer for the Panthers, averaging 8.8 points in nearly 20 minutes per game last season. The team has high expectations for Chergey, and he is ready for the challenge, according to Novick.
The Panthers hope to have strong senior leadership from Chergey and classmates Jesse Sabolis and Kyle Walker. Sabolis brings speed and athleticism to the team on the wing and Walker is a gritty veteran guard and one of the hardest workers on the team.
Sophomores Petey Skevas and Kevin Cressy will also look to contribute for the Panthers, Skevas in the backcourt and Cressy in the post. Both gained experience with limited action last year but could take on a larger role this winter. Sophomore newcomer Mark MacGregor could also help out in the post and junior Jonathan Lovering will bring energy off the bench.
PSU has two transfers from NHTI who could contribute to the Panthers offense in juniors Stephan Roberts and Matt Cloutier. The top freshmen appear to be guard Shomari Morgan and forward Connor Torrey.
Novick says the Panthers will have their hands full every game in the Little East Conference.
"The LEC is one of the premier conferences in Division III," said the coach. "There are a lot of very good teams in the Little East this year; it's going to be an exciting challenge for us."
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