The women's and men's basketball teams have a handful of non-conference games under their belts. This weekend, things will heat up when they open SUNYAC play in Steele Hall.
Today, the hoopsters welcome New Paltz into the newly-refurbished Steele Hall. Saturday, they will have a crack at Oneonta.
Game times are 6 and 8 p.m. today, and 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday.
OBSERVER?File Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Fredonia State’s Matt DeBoy, right, works against Alfred’s Steve Lothridge during a recent men’s college basketball game.
The ladies are off to a 4-1 start led by senior Becky Hebert, whose 24.8 scoring average entering the weekend ranks 10th nationally. She has scored at least 20 points in each game, with a high of 28 coming in a win over Hilbert on Nov. 23rd.
Among NCAA career leaders, Hebert started the week ranked in two active leader categories: No. 17 at 15.7 points per game, No. 22 at 1,190 points for her career.
Fellow senior Jaimie Warren has put up numbers consistent with past performance, averaging 12.8 points and a team-best 8.4 rebounds.
Warren and Hebert also rank one-two in the conference in field goal percentage. As a team, the Devils were No. 40 in the nation (out of 426 schools) in the category - yet No. 3 in conference. The Devils also rank No. 40 in assists per game, second best in the SUNYAC.
Stepping up in the early going is current SUNYAC Player of the Week, Sabrina Macaulay. The sophomore has scored in double digits in the past three games, including reaching career highs of 12 points and 11 rebounds in the team's previous game. She is averaging 8.2 points per contest, and at 5-foot-11-inches, is pulling down an average of 6.6 boards per game.
Of Macaulay, Blue Devil bench boss Linda Hill-MacDonald said "I'm really pleased with her growth and she's proving to be a force inside for us. She's becoming a great complement to Becky and Jaimie."
Freshman Alexis Cheatham has been another bright spot. She is the team's top playmaker with 20 assists and leads the team with eight three-pointers while averaging 8.6 points a game. Brittany LaForce has started each contest thus far and chips in with 6.6 points per game.
Last year, the Devils split with Oneonta and were swept by New Paltz.
"It's a tough opening weekend," said Hill-MacDonald. "(Oneonta and New Paltz) bring experienced teams to our home court. They have a tradition of winning. We spent the week prepping and are ready for the challenge that is on front of us."
New Paltz's 16-2 regular season conference record earned them the No. 1 seed a year ago. They lost both of their all-conference players to graduation after the season. They enter the weekend with a 2-4 record.
Oneonta, at 10-8, finished fourth in the league a year ago. The Red Dragons, currently at 4-1, will be led by senior guard Grace Schilling, a third-team selection a year ago.
The men have earned a pair of wins over six games. Senior Tyrone Clark is coming off a career night from Tuesday's home opener. He poured in 35 points and has scored 20-plus points in five straight games.
Prior to that, he converted a game-winning three-point play in the closing seconds in a 75-74 win at D'Youville.
Sophomore Robert Lyles has come into his own as a sophomore after a strong finish last year, adding 12.5 points and 4.3 assists per contest.
Chautauqua County products Matt Deboy (Salamanca) and Alexander Grace (Bemus Point/Maple Grove) have started all six games. Deboy leads the team with 7.2 rebounds while Grace sports an 8.2 points per game average.
Head coach Phillip Seymore has had an opportunity to assess his team in his first six games with the Blue Devils.
"We've done a better job playing together," he said. "Everybody is discovering their roles."
One of the team's pre-season goals was to cut down on turnovers. "Aside from the last game, we've done a good job taking care of the ball," said Seymore.
In order for the Devils to continue to improve, Seymore sees rebounding and free-throw shooting as priorities. The Devils have a rebounding margin of -6.0 and are shooting 59 percent from the line.
Like the women, the men split with Oneonta and twice fell to New Paltz last year.
New Paltz, 2-4 this season, lost All SUNYAC performers Matt Devine and Shareef Taylor to graduation, but return the league's Rookie of the Year in Deveino McRae. They finished 9-9 in conference play a year ago. Oneonta (1-3) is led by junior Zach Mager who was Third Team All Conference. Oneonta was 3-15 in the SUNYAC last season.
About his weekend opponents, Seymore simply stated "They are good teams. We need to play well to win."