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Men's Basketball Season Preview

Team has high hopes for the 2014-15 season

The ESF men's basketball program opened up its pre-season Oct. 1 with its first official practice in preparation for the 2014-15 campaign.

The Mighty Oaks have a strong core of returning players as they look to take the next step in the growth of the program, now in its third season. This year's schedule is highlighted by an NCAA Division II opponent, a January trip to the New York City area and with the opportunity to play two of the first three games at home.

The Mighty Oaks are returning 11 players from last year's squad, including four regular starters in point guard Dan Treadwell (Greene, NY-environmental science, sophomore), shooting guard and two-year starter Danny MacElrath (Milton, NY-environmental resource engineering, senior), forward and USCAA All-American Suthod Young (Moosup, CT-construction management, junior) and two-year starter at center Sage Beemer (Fleischmanns, NY-construction management, junior). The remaining veterans who will provide depth for the Mighty Oaks include guard Matt Kowalski (Depew, NY-construction management, senior), forward Ray George (North Java, NY-paper engineering, junior), guard Ryan Caldwell (Liverpool, NY-sustainable energy management, sophomore), guard Daryl Harper (Mayville, NY-environmental resource engineering, senior), senior center Couri Leuschner (Carmel, NY-natural resource management), and sophomore forward Mitch Hull (Margaretville, NY-natural resource management)

The Mighty Oaks will begin their season with two exhibitions later in October, first at D'Youville College Oct. 22 and a return trip to NCAA Division II Kutztown University (PA) Oct. 25. The trip to Kutztown will be a good pre-season test as the Mighty Oaks take on the Golden Bears, one of the more accomplished Division II programs in the region.

ESF will then tip off its slate of games at home for the first time in program history, hosting Broome Community College at 1 p.m. Nov. 1 and then another home contest a week later as the team hosts Penn State-Wilkes Barre (1 p.m. Nov. 8). The fall slate includes trips to numerous local opponents such as Onondaga Community College (7 p.m. Nov. 5), Cazenovia College (4 p.m. Nov. 22), Keuka College (7 p.m. Dec. 2). The team will also participate in the Hamilton Invitational Tournament during Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 29 and 30. ESF wraps up its fall slate with a home contest at 1 p.m. Dec. 6 versus Albany College of Pharmacy and, finally a game at Alfred State 1 p.m. Dec. 14. "This year's team has high aspirations," said Head Coach Scott Blair. "Our core group experienced some good moments last year - the challenge is for the team to understand it is a new season and the bar is set even higher. To learn from our past as we continue to grow and make this the best season in the history of the program."

MacElrath echoed Blair's thoughts and added, "I'm excited to see what this year's team is capable of accomplishing. Every year we have improved and with the majority of the team returning, I'm sure that trend will continue."

The Mighty Oaks will continue their partnership with the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central school, which will continue to serve as the official home for ESF basketball home contests. The school, just a two-mile drive west from campus will host six home contests for the Mighty Oaks this season.

"The opportunity to have more home contests will be huge for program recruiting purposes and such but it really is a huge bonus in building our student fan base on campus," Blair said. "We want home games to be a great asset for our team and that starts by encouraging our students at ESF to attend and to make it their own come game days - support the Mighty Oaks!"

Also on board this year are a talented group of new student athletes including two freshmen, center Tyler Kuhn (Oneida, NY - environmental resource engineering), and Zane Paradies (Owego, NY-sustainable energy management, guard);and transfers Austin Duncan (Suffolk Community College; Centereach, NY-environmental biology, guard) and Kyler Brown (Onondaga Community College; Weedsport, NY-landscape architecture, forward).