Former SC rivals leading Dragons to SUNYAC tourney berth
A photo that ran in the newspaper more than four years ago is still occasionally the topic of conversation between Shenendehowa grad Dan Lee and Saratoga Springs grad Mikey McElroy.
Teammates for the first time this season, the two former Suburban Council rivals are helping lead SUNY-Oneonta toward a SUNYAC tournament berth. Lee, a senior, has inherited the role of point guard for the Dragons and McElroy, a sophomore, is becoming a potent scorer.
Despite clicking as teammates for SUNY Oneonta, though, the old bragging rights won by Lee sometimes have to be exercised.
“We played [against each other] for one year,” McElroy said. “Dan was a senior and I was a junior.”
“Every now and then, you’ve got to bring it up,” Lee said. “We also have Chris Hooks from Shaker [and Grant Massaroni from Mohonasen], so we talk about who was the best Suburban Council team. I remember bits and pieces of the games and what we did against each other. There’s a picture from the newspaper, I was going to the hoop and Mikey was guarding me, so we’ll always look at that.”
That old conversation will likely pop up again tonight as their two alma maters meet in the Section II Class AA quarterfinals at 7:45 at Hudson Valley Community College.
By then, they will be on the road home from their regular-season finale at Brockport, the top team in the SUNYAC.
SUNY-Oneonta (9-7 SUNYAC, 12-11 overall) was in fourth place in the conference heading into the weekend, two games ahead of seventh-place Buffalo State. The top six teams will play in the tournament.
“Right now, we feel very good about ourselves,” McElroy said. “We’ve won the past three games, and right now is the best time to be hot, so we feel very good about our chances.”
McElroy’s confidence should be through the roof after he dropped 32 points on SUNY-New Paltz last Friday. He is averaging 15.2 points per game, and he is shooting 50.9 percent from the field, 42.4 percent from the arc and 71.9 percent from the free-throw line.
He took two years off from basketball after high school, and now as a sophomore with the Dragons, is in his first year of eligibility and has “got his basketball legs back under him,” according to Dragons coach Vince Medici, who also has enjoyed what McElroy can contribute defensively.
“Mikey has the ability to do a lot of things for us,” Medici said. “He defends the other team’s best player every night, it doesn’t matter what position he plays. He could be the one, or the center. If we need Mikey to play him, he does it, so we’ve asked him to do a lot on both ends.”
“For the past couple games, I’ve been shooting the ball really well and feeling really good out there,” McElroy said. “And my teammates have been trusting me a lot, more and more, trusting me to put the ball in the hole a lot more.”
A lot of that trust comes from the team’s new point guard.
Lee had been a shooting guard in his first three seasons with the Dragons. He last played the point in his junior season with Shenendehowa, but when called upon to step back into that role, he excelled.
“I can’t be any happier than I am,” Medici said. “Going in, you’re just not sure with him being a two-guard for us for three years, and all of a sudden he has to run the point. He ran the point a little in high school, so he certainly can handle the ball well. He’s just done an outstanding job. We wouldn’t be where we are without the way he’s played all year.”
Lee is the team’s third-leading scorer with an even 10 points per game, and he leads in assists with 87.
It has helped, Lee said, having guys like McElroy and team leading-scorer Zach Mager to pass to, knowing they will at least find a good look at the basket once they have the ball in their hands.
Lee and McElroy played together in a summer league and worked together in the preseason to develop a chemistry, Lee said, and as much as they still root for their alma maters, playing with and for their current teammates is foremost on their minds.
“We’ll joke around about it, but at the same time, we’re in college now and we’re on the same team,” Lee said. “High school’s in the past. You’ll sometimes look back on it, but when you’re playing for a college and you’re playing on the same team, it really doesn’t matter.”