Men's ball splits opening tourney

by Connor Burton / Beacon Staff • November 20, 2014

Expectations for the men’s basketball team have been as high as ever before going into this season, but an opening weekend split for the Lions proved there is still a lot of progress to be made.

The team won its first game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 15, a 64-48 victory over Wentworth Institute of Technology in the Greater Boston Classic hosted by Emmanuel College. In the championship game, however, the Lions could not carry their momentum against the Regis College Pride, falling 67-41.

After being outplayed by Regis, head coach Bill Curley said although there is room for improvement, he was satisfied with its play this weekend.

“You can’t fault the effort,” said Curley, who is starting his first season as head coach. “We executed well, but the results were poor. The whole weekend was still very positive.”

The Lion’s lackluster outing in the second game of the 2014-2015 season was lower than last season’s lowest point total, 44, which came against Babson College in Emerson’s 12th game of the 2013-2014 season. 

After shooting 47 percent from the field as a team in the win over Wentworth on Saturday, Emerson’s starters went 8-34, or 24 percent, from the field in the 26 point loss to Regis on Sunday. 

Junior point guard Michael Thorpe, the team’s leading scorer last season, shot just 2-14, or 14 percent, and went 3-4 on free throws. 

Senior guard Eli Kell-Abrams, who led the Lions with eight points and four steals on Sunday, said his team needs to execute a more balanced offensive gameplan. 

“We have some players on our teams that can make [three-point shots], but we relied too heavily on it,” said Kell-Abrams, a journalism major. “We need to utilize weapons we have down low, but we got away from that on Sunday. A lot of the shots [we attempted] were good looks, but it’s just a mentality we [need] to have. We [have to] shoot to kill in these games and we didn’t come with that mentality against Regis.” 

The Lions, at an average height of 6-foot-2, are an undersized team in comparison to other New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference schools, and may have to rely on mid-range and perimeter shooting to compete with other high level programs. Although they have only played two games this season, Emerson’s three-point shooting (12-43, 28 percent) has been below average.

Despite its lack of height, Curley said his team could still rely on the interior players to generate a lot of points. 

“We may have settled for [three-point shots] too much, but I think we’re  going to make those shots. We want to hit a lot of  [three-point] shots,” Curley said. “But we have some good [post players] that we think we can take advantage of. We want a balanced attack and we want good shots, and I think for the most part we got quality looks [this weekend], but the [three-point shots] didn’t go in.”

The Lions competed in the same tournament to start their 2013-2014 season and came out of it with an identical record, but Curley said this year’s team will react to the disappointing loss with some optimism.

“[Last year] we felt real bad coming out of this tournament. This year, we had a letdown on Sunday, but I loved the way these guys competed on Saturday night,” Curley said. “On Sunday, for the most part, we had that same balance [we had on Sunday], but we couldn’t get the ball to fall. That’s why you play the games. Learning how to bounce back is a big thing.” 

Emerson will next play at Tufts University Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.