SUNY Potsdam Hoops Look To Continue Rise
POTSDAM -The SUNY Potsdam men's and women's basketball teams kick of their 2019-20 campaigns on Friday evening. The Bears men host SUNY Canton at 7 p.m. and the women square off with Cazenovia College at 5 p.m. in the first round of Canton's Kevin Fee Roos Classic.
Jim Bechtel's men's team comes into his fourth year at the helm off the program's first playoff appearance in eight seasons. The Bears were 13-13 overall and 9-9 in the SUNYAC, the most victories since 2005-06. While the team lost a talented senior class including two-time All-SUNYAC selection Dante Langley, fellow 1,000-point scorer Nosa Onabor and rebounding force Serigne Kane, several key veterans are back and are joined by a talented group of newcomers. Senior guards Danny Delsol-Lowry (Queens, N.Y./Queens High School of Teaching), Jayquan Thomas (Hollis
, N.Y./Richmond Hill) and Aaron Armstrong (Lisbon, N.Y./Madrid Waddington) will serve as team captains this year.
Four returning seniors will comprise a key part of the team. Delsol-Lowry will run the offense again this season. He started 24 of the 25 games he played last season, averaging 12.0 points-per-game, while shooting .466 from the floor and .377 from beyond-the-arc. He also led the Bears in assists (77) and was second in steals (52).
Thomas is Potsdam's top returning scorer at 13.1 ppg. He made 21 starts, while playing in all 26 games and led the Bears in steals (56) and was second in assists (68). Armstrong started 24 of his 25 games and registered 40 assists. Center Kristoff Saunders (Queens, N.Y./Queens H.S. of Teaching) saw action in every game last season, grabbing 2.6 rebounds-per-game. While averaging just 3.0 ppg. in 2018-19, he shot 60-percent from the floor and looks to build on that in his final season.
Juniors Dante Viskovich (Massena, N.Y./Massena) and Colby Simpson (Queens, N.Y./Queens H.S. of Teaching) have given the Bears sparks off the bench in their first two years and their roles should grow this season. Viskovich, a forward, played in every game as a sophomore and shot .351 from 3-point range, routinely energizing the Bears with a clutch bucket. Simpson, a guard, averaged 2.2 ppg. and picked up 17 steals in time limited by a senior heavy lineup last season. Junior guard Nana Annorh (LeFrak City, N.Y./Newton) and sophomore guard Isaiah Joseph (Harlem, N.Y./Isquierdo Health & Science) also return to give the Bears more experience from the bench.
Six freshman and a junior transfer join the team this year. Junior forward Brandon Segar Jr. (Jamaica, N.Y./Richmond Hill) comes to Potsdam from Queensborough Community College. In two seasons with the Tigers, he averaged nearly 18 ppg. and over eight boards per contest. Two freshman centers and a forward give the Bears some more size and athleticism up front. Centers Hameed Dawodu (Queens, N.Y./Richmond Hill) and Tyrese Baptiste (New York, N.Y./Eagle Academy II) come to Potsdam from Queens and New York City, respectively while forward Ahamadou Sillah (Bronx, N.Y./Kipp NYC College Prep) makes the trek from the Bronx. Potsdam also has three new additions at guard. Brian Pod (Oceanside, N.Y./Oceanside) arrives from Oceanside. Austin Dropkin joins the Bears from New Hartford and Isaac Oduro Jr. comes from Jamaica, N.Y.
After opening up at home, Potsdam will be on the road for the rest of the semester. In addition to local rivals St. Lawrence (Nov. 12) and Clarkson (Nov. 19), the Bears will face Northern Vermont-Lyndon on Nov. 17. Potsdam resumes an old rivalry with now Division I Albany on Nov. 19. The team opens SUNYAC play at New Paltz on Dec. 6 and then wraps up the semester at the York Invitational in Jamaica, N.Y. on Dec. 13-14.
WOMEN ON RISE
Fourth year head coach Brittany Cohen's women's team went 8-16 last season and 5-13 in the SUNYAC, the most victories by the program in nine years. A big reason for the improvement are three Bears that are back to lead a young team this winter. Sophomore forward Devyn Elliott (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spell) is the reigning SUNYAC Rookie of the Year. She played in all 24 contests last season with 23 starts. Elliott led the Bears and was third in the conference in scoring with 16.8 ppg. and was eighth in the SUNYAC in rebounding at 8.3 rpg. She also contributed a team-high 37 steals, 48 assists and 11 blocks. Sophomore guard Dyamon Hunter (Bronx, N.Y./Thurgood Marshall) was 10th in the league in scoring at 12.6 ppg. and had a team-best 68 assists. Junior forward Naya Walters (Bronx, N.Y./Women's Academy of Excellence) was a defensive machine last season. She hauled in 10.2 rpg., good for second in the SUNYAC and blocked 25 shots. Walters also had a career year offensively, scoring 9.3 ppg. and leading the conference in shooting percentage at .583. Junior guard Carly Shear (Newark, N.Y./Newark) is the only other Bear to return. She saw time in every game, averaging 2.3 ppg. and posting 13 steals and 11 assists.
The other 12 Bears are all new to the team this year and include three sophomores and nine freshmen. Sophomore Canton native Katelyn Flanagan (Canton, N.Y./Hugh C. Williams) played 25 games and averaged 6.1 ppg. for the Jefferson Community College Cannoneers a year ago. Sophomore forward Alexis Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y./Williamsburg H.S. of Architecture and Design) is from Brooklyn and sophomore guard Lauren Martin (Akwesasne, N.Y./Salmon River) played at Salmon River in high school.
The nine freshmen come to Potsdam from all over the state. Guards Bella Barner (Liverpool, N.Y./Liverpool) and Tsai Lewis (Cortland, N.Y./Cortland) along with forward Jakia Howard (Syracuse, N.Y./Nottingham) are all from Central New York. Guards Patience Riley (Troy, N.Y./Lansingburgh), Caroline LaFountain (Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Saratoga Springs) and Madison Soroka (Watervliet, N.Y./Watervliet) hail from the Capital District. Guards Nicole Bullock (Plattsburgh, N.Y./Seton Catholic) and Emma Bell (Gouverneur, N.Y./Gouverneur) are from the North Country and Deja Hall (Brooklyn, N.Y./Manhattan Early College School) is a Brooklyn native.
Like the men's team, the women are only home once during the 2019 portion of their schedule. After opening up at the Canton tournament, the Bears head to Utica (Nov. 12), Clarkson (Nov. 19) and St. Lawrence (Nov. 23) before returning home to host Bryant & Stratton of Syracuse on Dec. 3. They too open SUNYAC Play at New Paltz on Dec. 6 and wrap up the semester at the City College of New York on Dec. 14.
Video of all Bears home games will be streamed on potsdambears.com and My Mix 96.1 FM will broadcast each home contest on the radio.