Men’s Basketball Team Prepares for Uncertain Season

Photo courtesy of Sarah Swift/ SUNY New Paltz Athletics

The SUNY New Paltz men’s basketball team would normally start practices in early October, as well as having conditioning, off-season training and availability to practice their crafts in open gyms over the summer and fall. 

But due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, all these scenarios are on a delayed schedule for the foreseeable future. As of right now, there isn’t an official start date for when the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) would resume their winter sports, but officials and campus presidents of the schools within the SUNYAC are aiming for January 2021, when practices can resume at an official capacity.

Returning players from last season, Rylan Blondo and RJ Meyers-Turner, are looking forward to a great season and building upon what they have had from last year.

“Honestly, I feel like this year is a boost year for me as being more of a leader. I can score, pass, play, defend and be a better player on and off the court,” Meyers-Turner said in regards to his hopeful impact on the team this season.  

Meyers-Turner finished his freshman year for the Hawks averaging 10.2 points per game starting in six of 25 games played. To stay in shape during the off-season, Meyers-Turner focused on his cardio and upper body workouts, while practicing his basketball skills whenever he had the opportunity. 

“In the classroom I check my syllabi daily, and make sure to keep up on my assignments,” Meyers-Turner said. 

Blondo, a second-year student and returner for the Hawks, is on the same pathway as his fellow backcourt teammate Meyers-Turner. 

“I want to be a big part of the team, be a starter, be able to control the pace of the game on both ends of the floor and help my team win,” Blondo said. 

As the Hawks look to add some freshman players to build on their team chemistry and potential path towards success, Blondo believes that they have some good recruits that can impact the team while everyone does what they need to do for the win.

Blondo says he tries to focus on his studies and athletics with determination, as over the summer he would workout with his personal trainer for weight training three times a week, and work on a different basketball skill each day of the week. In the classroom, Blondo would prepare assignments a week in advance for himself by writing any homework or to-do lists on Sunday for certain days of the week.. Blondo averaged 2.4 points per game as well starting in two games as a first-year player.

Two new additions to the Hawk’s men’s basketball team include Sean St. Lucia and Dakoda Smith.

 St. Lucia is ready for this season to commence and looks to help the Hawk’s in any way he can; as stated  

“I’m ready to go into whatever the team needs me to do, whether it is scoring, defense and being a leader on and off the court,” St. Lucia said. “I try to stay positive, practice if the season is cancelled and build team chemistry. It’s a bummer, but I try to stay positive and focus on school.” 

With a major in mechanical engineering, St. Lucia looks to make the Dean’s list and maintain a 4.0 GPA. Teammate Smith has similar goals. 

“I look to prove my worth to my team with a hard work ethic and determination on the court and in the classroom,” Smith said. 

His workout regimen consists mainly of him focusing on his ball handling, passing and shooting drills, as well as doing sit-ups and push-ups to build body strength. 

Both of these individuals look to be the best they possibly can when holding the student-athlete representation to the highest standard possible.

Last year the New Paltz Hawks men’s basketball team finished with a record of 3-15 in the SUNYAC, while finishing overall with a record of 7-18. Now, the SUNY New Paltz community will have to wait in anticipation for the future of the Hawk’s men’s basketball team in wake of COVID-19 and see what they can do moving forward in the 2020-2021 season.