Men's Basketball

Hudson Valley Establishes A Pipeline

Basketball Team Sends Three Players To Division III Plattsburgh State

SUNY Plattsburgh may feel more like Hudson Valley Community College this upcoming basketball season. Hudson Valley's men's basketball team lost four players – including three starters – to graduation after the 1999-2000 season, and at least three of those graduates will hoop it up at Plattsburgh in 2000-01.

Chris Jura (Lansingburgh), David Walden (Albany), Dennis Pitaniello (La Salle) and Jasper Estaris (Scotia-Glenville) helped the Vikings post a 48-15 record over the past two seasons and led Hudson Valley reach the NJCAA Division III national championship tournament in 1998-99. They guided Hudson Valley to a 24-6 record in 1999-2000, earning a No. 10 ranking in the nation.

Jura, Walden and Estaris have all committed to attending Plattsburgh. Pitaniello is also considering the Division III college, as well as the University of New Haven (a Division II school). Also, in an effort to stay close to his family in Watervliet, Pitaniello may attempt to make UAlbany's team as a walk-on.

"Those three are the first I've ever sent to Plattsburgh. It could be the start of a pipeline," said Vince Medici, Hudson Valley's fifth-year coach. "Their coach, Ed Jones, attempted to recruit Dennis Pitaniello out of high school and followed his career here. That allowed him to see Chris Jura, David Walden and Jasper Estaris. He likes our style of play and the quality of the kids in our program."

Jura will battle for Plattsburgh's starting point guard slot. Jura (5-10, 150) won Hudson Valley's Most Valuable Player award this season after being named to the NJCAA Division III Region III All-Tournament squad. During the three-game tourney, Jura averaged 19.0 points and came up with 16 steals. Over the course of his Hudson Valley career, Jura averaged nine points and five assists per contest.

"I found out that Chris was very interested in our Elementary Education program, which is outstanding," said Jones, Plattsburgh's third-year coach. "That's what got the ball rolling. So I recruited Chris very hard, and then I found out that he and David are close friends. We're really looking forward to having them. I have tremendous respect for Vince Medici and his program."

Walden, a 6-4, 190-pound forward, was a First Team All-Mountain Valley Conference and Second Team All-Region III pick this past season. He led the Vikings in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (8.2). Walden also topped Hudson Valley with 84 steals and contributed 4.4 assists per game. He averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists during his two years at Hudson Valley.

Estaris will attempt to make Plattsburgh's team as a walk-on. Estaris (6-2, 180) saw limited action at Hudson Valley, but did start a game at the NJCAA Division III national championship tournament in 1999.

Medici believes all three will see playing immediate playing time at Plattsburgh.

"When you recruit junior college kids, you've got to have plans to play them right away," he said. "They only have two years of eligibility left, so they need to fit in right away."

Pitaniello is known for his long-range shooting skills. A First Team All-Region III and Second Team All-Mountain Valley Conference selection, Pitaniello led Hudson Valley with 84 three-point field goals this past season. The 6-3, 190-pound guard shot 32.8 percent from beyond the arc despite facing double and triple coverage all year. A 1999-2000 preseason All-American, Pitaniello averaged 15 points, four rebounds and three assists per game at Hudson Valley.

"These kids were all solid players at Hudson Valley," Medici said. "They'll be missed here, and I wish them the best of luck as the continue their basketball careers and their education. I'm sure they'll continue to make us proud."

Plattsburgh competes in the State University of New York Athletic Conference and finished the 1999-2000 campaign with a 5-19 record. Colonie High graduate Josh Barcomb led the Cardinals. The 5-9 guard, who will be a senior this upcoming season, averaged 14.6 points per game.

Hudson Valley and Plattsburgh have a joint admission program in place. Under the program, students admitted to Hudson Valley can request, upon their admission to Hudson Valley, to be jointly admitted to Plattsburgh. When accepted into the joint admission program, the Hudson Valley student is accepted both into an associate degree program at Hudson Valley and a future baccalaureate program at Plattsburgh. Hudson Valley also has a joint admission agreement with UAlbany.

"The Albany area is a very good area for us to recruit in," Jones said. "Plattsburgh is far enough away that kids feel like they're getting away from home, but it's close enough that they can still see their family. We're an ideal situation for Capital Region students. Hopefully, this connection with Hudson Valley Community College will help us even more."

"I try to keep track of all my players as they move on," Medici said. "I try to find out who's having a good experience and who's not. And the pool grows larger as time goes by. As long as these kids have a good experience at Plattsburgh, we'll keep sending them there."

Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions; Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, Hudson Valley has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.