Men’s Basketball falls to non-conference New England College

BY BRANDON WILFORE // Nov. 29, 2016 //

19 turnovers would probably lead to a loss for the dominate Golden State Warriors. For the Curry Colonels, it is a knockout punch. They fell Monday night to the visiting New England College Pilgrims, 78-50.

Curry has not lost a game by more than six points all year. Taking that into consideration, one might think it is just a matter of time before the Colonels earn their first win since the 2014-2015 season.

But Monday just was not their night. The team seemed tired as they front-rimmed many jump shots and missed layups many college basketball players should make. Curry shot 25.4% from the field and only 17.6% from behind the arc.

It was not lopsided the whole game, though.

Through the first 15 minutes, the Colonels had a healthy amount of turnovers but still only trailed by one. They swapped baskets with the 3-point happy Pilgrims who shot 12-29 from the three-point line in the game.

But basketball is a game of runs and NEC went on a good one before the half. At the half, it went ahead 31-20 after going on a 13-3 run while capturing every bit of momentum going into the locker room.

The offensive struggles followed Curry into the second half. After the first five minutes of the second half, it trailed 43-26 with little offensive spark from their starters. The Pilgrims saw the opportunity to win because of the Colonels’ struggles and ran away by racking up 20 points off turnovers.

The Eleanor M. Katz Gymnasium was dead, other than NEC’s bench celebrating every three they made. Curry had little sense of urgency and its bench could not celebrate because scoring was rare.

In a 10-minute run, the Pilgrims extended the lead to 21 and coach Matt LeVangie saw this as a perfect opportunity to get some freshmen experience and give senior leaders Paul Preziosi and James Pina some rest.

However, the other bench only held either freshmen or sophomores so there was no let up from NEC. It kept firing away threes even though it was up by more than 20 and had all the momentum.

40 minutes had passed and the game finally ended, providing a sigh of relief for some. The Colonels faced their worst defeat of the year, falling 78-50 to drop to 0-4 on the season.

Curry’s workhorses, Preziosi and Pina had 11 and 10 points, respectively. Preziosi also added 11 rebounds, his second double-double of the season.

The Colonels may be kept winless until December as they go on the road to take on the defending Commonwealth Coast Conference Champion Endicott Gulls on Wednesday.

3 Points (No Pun Intended, Pun Intended)

  • Spread the wealth: Every healthy player on Curry’s roster saw action Monday night
  • Turnovers anyone?: The Colonels have played four games; they have committed 27, 20, 21 and 19 turnovers in those four games.
  • Rocky Road: Curry plays three conference games in their next three games. They haven’t won in the CCC since Feb. 21, 2015.

The Bellitti Backcourt

BY BRANDON WILFORE // Nov. 27, 2016 //

Out of 100 children born in the United States, three of them will have a twin. 3.1 percent of high school senior basketball players will make it to the next level. Combine those two statistics, and the odds of twins playing college basketball are slim.

Oh and don’t forget they are playing for the same college. These near-impossible odds were defied by Jaelen and Jordan George-Bellitti here at Curry College.

They grew up in Cambridge, Mass. with their mother Jasmine Bellitti and brothers Jermaine and Jacoby Houston. Basketball has been in their blood from a young age as they started playing in leagues at the age of five.

They both attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School where they played basketball. When asked about the school Jaelen said simply, “I loved it there.”hs-champs

That love may very well have been enhanced by the Division 1 State Championship that the twins won together in their final year wearing Cambridge across their chests.

Despite their similar faces and jerseys, don’t judge a book by its cover.

One big difference the brothers mentioned was their personality. Jordan mentioned that even in his daily life, “I [like to] go about every task like it is my last chance.”

This passion doesn’t only translate to the hardwood either, as he prides himself inside the classroom as well. Jordan says that from an early age, his family taught him to always put school first. Now being in college, working hard behind classroom doors comes naturally.

Jaelen, an easy going kid who loves to laugh, talked about that family influence saying, “Our mom encourages us to be the best that we can.”

He showed some of that admiration for laughing when he answered the question, ‘How are you and your brother different’? With a big smile on his face, he said, “We look different.”

However, when he is needed to ditch that flashy smile and go to work, Jaelen gets in the zone with thoughts of his late friend, Davonte Neal.sneaker-bands

Neal died of Leukemia in 2014 and whenever Jaelen feels like slacking, Neal comes to mind.

He is with him every minute on the court, as Jaelen wears orange bands for Leukemia awareness on his sneakers.

But when he does have the time to slack off and take a break from hitting the books or the Miller Field House gym to practice windmill dunks, Jaelen and Jordan still have that orange ball on their mind.

Jordan will take the time to watch and study basketball to add to his studious attitude. Even his twitter feed displays his passion for basketball, as almost all of the tweets are basketball-related.

Jaelen studies a little differently, turning on the old video game console to play NBA 2K or he’ll hang out with friends and play pick-up basketball.

The brothers went all-in on basketball, not even playing another sport in high school.

That specialization has led both of them to spend countless hours watching all the various styles of all the different players who have come in and out of the League. Jordan summed his game up by saying, “I try to play smart like LeBron James and jump like Vince Carter.”

Jaelen talked about Allen Iverson being his favorite NBA player because “He is a killer. He doesn’t fear anything.”

If you watch Jaelen play, you can clearly see that in him; driving the basketball toward the hoop against bigger guys who could be four or five years older. Jaelen doesn’t care, though; he will finish through, around, or even over you.

So, two brothers, good grades, great basketball players, admirable values and habits that will help them succeed on and off the court. This must mean colleges are drooling all over them, right? The two-for-one package already has the chemistry that coaches dream about in the backcourt. Who is going to turn that down?

Well, in Jordan’s case, apparently a lot; “I wear number 0 [here] because that is the amount of schools that recruited me [other than Curry].”

On the other hand, Jaelen had the attention of Suffolk University, Pine Manor, and Wheelock Colleges.

But Jordan noted that “My brother and I always dreamed of playing in the backcourt together.”

He went on to explain that nowhere else but “here at Curry [could] we would step into a high minute role and be expected to produce. Coach LeVangie told us his plan and we bought in immediately.”

Despite last year’s lack of success through a 0-25 campaign, the brothers both had faith in Head Coach Matt LeVangie.

Jordan added, “We believe this school will allow my brother and I to be the ‘Bellitti Backcourt’ we’ve dreamed about.” Now, these brothers are living out the scenarios they created in their own driveway nearly 15 years ago.

Their teammates have been some of the first to notice this special backcourt matriculating in front of their very eyes.

Senior forward Paul Preziosi has seen plenty of players come through the program over his roller coaster of a career but says the Bellitti’s are just different.

From winning a few games his first two years to not winning one his junior season, Preziosi wants to get it done his senior year. He thinks Jordan and Jaelen may just be able to help.

Even LeVangie knows what he has in these brothers from Cambridge; “They have the athleticism and skill to become great players; they just have to put in the work.”

When asked if the twins had any added chemistry because they have played together for so long, LeVangie joked, “I haven’t seen them make any out-of-this-world passes using twin telepathy.”

However, he did note that if one of them is in a funk, the other brother takes no time to encourage him, and it is effective.

That reinforcement shows on the court and only adds to their physical attributes.

“They are both 6’3” at the guard spots which gives them a height and length advantage over a lot of guards in our conference,” said LeVangie.

This should immensely help the Colonels defensively as they gave up more than 90 points in seven different games last season. In their first ever taste of the next level, the brothers both got the starting nod and were introduced from the bench where they sat side-by-side.

They wasted no time showing everyone what the next four years has in store as the crowd immediately started asking, ‘Who are number 0 and 24? These kids can play.’

By the end of a heartbreaking double-overtime loss, the brothers were all over the stat sheet.

Jordan tallied 41 minutes, 18 points and nine rebounds. It took no more than a single game to find out if he could indeed channel his inner LeBron in crunch time.

With the crowd on its feet and the pressure on, Jordan tied the game up with just tenths of seconds to play to send the game to a second overtime period.

Jaelen played 39 minutes, registering five points and four rebounds. Three of those points came with little time, though, when the Colonels found themselves down five late in double overtime. Jaelen dribbled down the court and hit a three-pointer to shave the lead to a manageable two.

Despite not coming out with a win, the twins showed a drastic change for the Purple and White.

When they were told they would get a high minute role, Coach LeVangie wasn’t bluffing. The twins played the second and third-most minutes on the team, behind only captain Preziosi.

At this level of basketball, the coach is going to play the best five players that give him the chance to win. Jordan and Jaelen were two of those five, and will likely be all season.

It was only one game and I’m not calling Jordan and Jaelen the next Westbrook and Durant or MJ and Pippen or even Shaq and Kobe.

But they are the Bellitti Backcourt and they are going to pave their own legacy.

Women’s Basketball Drops Season Opener to Framingham State

BY TYLER MILLIKEN // Nov. 16, 2016 //

After months of anticipation, the women’s basketball team finally tipped off against Framingham State University in their season opener last night at the Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Gymnasium.

Despite having a new team full of youth and inexperience, the Colonels were still quite confident heading into this matchup. The Rams seemed ready to jump on this flaw though, and immediately began the game with an extreme amount of defensive pressure.

Unfortunately, Curry didn’t seem prepared to deal with this type of game plan, because they started the match up struggling on all accounts. Between lazy defense, poor shooting, and an inability to hold onto the ball, it was impossible for the Colonels to find a rhythm.

Framingham State’s Mallory DeFeo would open up the scoring with a big three from the corner, and Curry was never able to find a lead after this.

The Rams were helped in part by center Alycia Rackliffe, who shadowed junior Nicole Rice for most of the game and limited her to only two points in 19 minutes on the court.

On the other side of the ball, Framingham struggled shooting-wise in the first quarter, as they were not able to take advantage of quite a few Colonel turnovers. Their defense would keep them in the game early though, with the scoreboard displaying only a 12-9 score.

Ram guard Quinn O’Connell opened up the second quarter with a wide open three, which marked the beginning of an offensive hot streak for Framingham.

DeFeo took advantage of these opportunities by putting up seven points of her own, showing no trouble banking shots from the perimeter or driving to the hoop and getting a bit physical.

Throughout the quarter, Curry’s opponent was setting a number of picks they just couldn’t get around, which created a number of open shots.

Those shots, paired with Coach Fran Elm’s inability to find a hot hand despite multiple substitutions led to a 35-13 deficit at the break.

Sophomore forward Tiphani Harris opened up the second half scoring six points in the first two minutes for the Rams and further increased the advantage. The Colonels’ nervous energy that was present pregame had completely worn off.

A three down the stretch from guard Mary Kate O’Day inflated the Framingham lead to 30 points with only a minute to go in the third and Coach Elms wasn’t holding back on his bench.

It was much of the same in the final frame as the Rams finished the last six minutes with a 16-0 run on their way to a 75-30 final score. It was not the way this team was looking to start their season, after working hard to formulate a new chemistry with so many new faces joining campus.

However, junior captain Rice noted that lack of knowledge was a hindering factor. “Honestly you have to chalk most of it up to inexperience. We added eight freshmen [to a team] that is really rebuilding after losing four out of five starters after last season.”

Coach Elms was also honest after the game, unsure of how his team will bounce back due to their youth, although mentioning, “As long as my girls learn from this, they’ll be okay. We just need to continually improve.”

Their next opportunity to improve comes before their Saturday Tip-Off Tournament as Pine Manor College (0-1) comes to the Katz Gymnasium.

Men’s Basketball Starts Season on a Loud Note

BY BRANDON WILFORE // Nov. 16, 2016 //

You know how people say that if your dog is getting old, you should get a puppy to liven them up and make them excited again? That’s exactly what Head Coach Matt LeVangie did this offseason.

Curry showed some life that fans haven’t seen in a while Tuesday night, when they battled visiting Lesley College to a double overtime loss, 87-83.

The Colonels came fresh out of the gate with three new faces and two proven ones beside them. Freshmen Dwayne Boothe and the George-Bellitti brothers, Jordan and Jaelen were accompanied by seniors James Pina and Paul Preziosi, marking their third and fourth years for the Purple and White, respectively.

Early on, both teams were exchanging buckets and looked pretty equally matched. From the opening tip, you could tell, these freshmen were good.

Curry fell behind but soon made a run after a few second-chance points, and the Lynx had to call a timeout to stop the bleeding. The Colonels led 26-25 and the gym was getting loud with three minutes to go until halftime.

At the break, it was all knotted up at 34. Curry dominated the boards in the first half, creating second-chance points and keeping it close. However, they also suffered 13 turnovers, many coming from lazy passes that Lesley would simply step in front of and take the other way for an easy layup.

The second half was just as tight as the first, with both teams grinding out defensive possessions and earning their way to the free-throw line. Jordan George-Bellitti stayed hot in this half and provided the offensive spark with his 10 points. However, turnovers would again plague the Colonels as they committed 11 turnovers in the second frame.

pina
James Pina (33) looks to advance the ball. Photo Credit: Curry College Athletics

 

Curry wasn’t out of it, though, as it only trailed by two points with less than 30 seconds to go and possession. Pina’s number was called, once again, and he pulled up from the top of the key and splashed the shot like he has so many times. This time, it tied the game 65-65 and sent it to overtime. The Colonels were flirting with a win for the first time since 2014.

The energy was visible in the gym as more and more students filtered in, just a little late. There was an actual College Basketball feel to it.

The teams again continued to swap baskets throughout the overtime period, then, with eight seconds left, Curry was down by two without the ball and in need to foul.

Luckily, the Colonels found the right guy to give the foul to, as senior Marquise Johnson stepped to the line in front of the entire crowd packing the Eleanor M. Katz Gymnasium. His first shot barely skimmed the rim as the crowd erupted with some cheers and some jeers.

Next shot; Left his hands and missed the rim by a good two feet. The gym exploded in laughter. Curry still had a chance.

Who says you can’t drive on campus as a freshman? Jordan George-Bellitti dribbled down the court and nailed a jumper to send the crowd into a frenzy, and the game to a second overtime period.

However, once James Pina fouled out, his team-leading 21 points also went to the bench, and the Lynx had their way at the free-throw line. The final buzzer sounded, and the Colonels fell 87-83.

“That one hurt, we needed that [one],” Preziosi said, after almost grabbing the first win since his sophomore year.

Although they lost, Tuesday’s game was a good sign for Curry’s upcoming season. Jordan George-Bellitti racked up 18 points and 9 rebounds while fellow freshman, DaShawn Williams was 4-4 from behind the arc.

Preziosi noted that these young guns will help, “I really like our squad this year, we are actually going to win games this year.”

Youth Movement: Curry has 21 players on the active roster; 13 of them are freshmen.

Senior Leaders: The two senior Colonels were the rock all night, combining for 32 points, 17 rebounds, and a 12-14 mark from the charity stripe.

High-Power Offense: Curry only eclipsed 80 points in 3 games out of 25 last season.

Nowhere to go but up for the Men’s Basketball Program

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.”

pina-and-preziosi-bench
James Pina (33) and Paul Preziosi (32). Photo Credit: Curry College Athletics

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.