BY TYLER MILLIKEN // Nov. 11, 2016 //
Nothing seemed to go right for Matt LeVangie and the men’s basketball team last year but with 18 new players to change the face of the program, they look to erase the mistakes of last year.
Health, depth and at times, performance on the court, left the Colonels winless and struggling to compete in the Commonwealth Coast Conference, resulting in a last-place spot in this year’s Coaches’ poll.
A winless season can often hold a team back for years to follow, but coach LeVangie doesn’t see it that way. He believes that “We’re so young, I don’t think we know any better. They think we can win the championship tomorrow.”
Being able to mentally reset and focus on a new challenge is something every team needs if they don’t want to let past mistakes plague their future. Coach LeVangie was able to do that with the 18 new faces he brought to campus. He elaborated that his recruiting skills were “one of the reasons they brought me in.”
All of these new additions can immediately join the mix that will look to conquer some of the rebounding and shooting issues this team faced throughout the entire 2015-2016 season. Since practices started a few months back, the intensity on a daily basis has “been something to watch,” according to LeVangie.
Before roles and game plans began to come into focus, everyone was fighting for minutes. This hasn’t hindered team chemistry by any means, though. If anything, it’s created a level of respect for everybody chasing a championship in the locker room.
“Just the other day at the scrimmage, the whole team ate together,” LeVangie noted. “There is a higher level of family going on right now, and that’s really a tribute to our two seniors.”
One of those seniors has worked hard and made another impression on Coach LeVangie through these early practice sessions. Hailing from Warwick, R.I., forward James Pina finished last year averaging 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
LeVangie explained, “I think James Pina has really put in a lot of work, and I think he’s a guy that people should come and take a look at this year.”
Classmate Paul Preziosi has also stuck out in Coach LeVangie’s head, being one of the guys to play a big role in whether or not these hopes and goals are accomplished. Despite carrying a tough workload of almost 36 minutes per game last season, Preziosi was still able to make a solid impact in every facet of the game.
Coach LeVangie is hoping this new strength in depth for the team can help Preziosi stay a little fresher throughout each game. “I’d like to cut his minutes down by maybe eight or ten minutes a game to help make him a more efficient player.” Preziosi’s contributions on and off the court, have been a key component to the development of this team, dating all the way back to when he debuted as a freshman.
With a reshaped team full of new talent and hungry returning players, plus a coaching staff that has now had a year to mesh, the results are bound to be interesting for the Colonels.
Fans here at Curry won’t have to wait long to see this team in action, as they take on Lesley College in their season opener Tuesday night at the Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Gymnasium.
It will be a big game for many of the students on this team who are playing their first game of collegiate basketball as a Colonel. Once that ball tips off, redemption will be the only thought on this team’s mind.
It’s only up from here, with a winless season in the rearview mirror.