POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - The SUNY Potsdam men's basketball team is off to one of its best starts in recent memory, rekindling memories of the 1980s when the Bears played in four Division 3 national championship games, winning two titles under legendary coach Jerry Welsh.
The Bears are off to a 14-4 start, 9-2 in SUNYAC play, just a half game behind second-place Oneonta and a game back from first-place Brockport.
It's been quite a turnaround under fourth-year head coach Jim Bechtel.
"We have a lot of guys that have been here for four years and have really figured out what it takes to be successful," the coach said. "We've been fortunate enough to have some really strong recruiting classes that have learned as a group and so for us it's just been a culmination of four years of hard work and we always talked about this year being the year we thought we'd be able to have a really strong season and so far it's gone that way for us."
This season, the Bears have already reached their win total from last year in SUNYAC play and have surpassed their overall win total of 13 games.
The Bears are averaging 80 points a game while holding their opponents to 72 points a contest, and Potsdam is a perfect 6-0 at home so far this year.
"We're definitely not where we want to be yet," senior Danny Delsol-Lowry said. "Our goal is obviously a championship, but like coach Bechtel would say. it's always the little things that count first, so we pretty much gotta make sure we're still bought in at this point at the halfway mark getting ready for Brockport and Geneseo -- taking it game by game."
For the seniors on the team, it's the culmination of four years of hard work that saw the team improve from 3-22, 11-14, 13-13 to this year's record of 14-4 at the halfway point of the season.
"It's definitely, it was definitely a hit right in the face to come from fighting for a championship in high school to coming to being one of the lower teams in the SUNYAC, but it just makes you appreciate winning just so much more," senior Aaron Armstrong said.
“We just came in and tried to have a positive work ethic every day and really tried to build on stuff each day and get a little bit better each day,” Bechtel said, “and that’s our main focus especially year one was just building that work habit, those work ethic and the positive habits that we thought were going to help us become successful.”