TELEGRAM: Greg Twomey has Greyhounds following his example as NCAA tournament beginsMarch 15, 2008
By Jennifer Toland
WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WORCESTER- On an afternoon earlier this week, Greg Twomey was where he usually is an hour before practice is scheduled to start - in the gym practicing.
"He's the example," Assumption coach Serge DeBari said of his senior captain. "If Twomey doesn't do it, don't do it. If Twomey does it, do it, and everything will come out nice."
The Greyhounds have followed the lead of Twomey and Assumption's other seniors, and the result is an NCAA Division 2 Tournament berth, the program's 25th overall and first since 2002-03.
Assumption (22-10) is the No. 2 seed in the Northeast Regional and will play No. 7 Holy Family University (21-9) at 2:30 p.m. today at Bentley College's Dana Center.
Holy Family, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference runner-up, is making its first NCAA appearance. The Tigers are led by senior guard Michael Sturns, a transfer from the University of North Texas, who is the leading scorer (26.5 ppg) in Division 2.
The Greyhounds gathered with the Assumption women's players Sunday night in one of the athletic building's classrooms to watch the Web cast of the D2 selection show.
"That was fun," Twomey said. "At this time the last couple years, our season had already been done for a week and a half. Seeing our name on the screen got us excited to play."
Twomey had suffered - at some points really suffered - through three straight losing seasons before this year's fine campaign. After leading Groton-Dunstable Regional High to the state final as a senior, Twomey blew out his knee just two games into his freshman season at Assumption and had to watch from the bench as the Hounds went 4-23.
"I had never been hurt before," Twomey said, "and then for the team to have as bad a year as we did, it was a trying year for me basketball-wise, but it was also motivation to improve each year."
DeBari, who also coached the Hounds from 1995-99, replaced Tom Ackerman the next season, and the rebuilding process began. The Hounds won seven games in 2005-06 and 11 games last year.
This season has been one of redemption for Assumption's four-year seniors - Twomey, Corey Diethorn, Mike Foti and Leroy Byron. Byron, the former North High star, has not played this season because of an injury.
"It definitely means a lot to come from where we were freshman year," Twomey said. "We've been working so hard and coach has stayed on top of us, telling us it's going to come together. The seniors did what we had to do, and the other guys followed."
Twomey, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound forward, averages 12 points and 6.2 rebounds for Assumption's superstar-less squad. Diethorn (14.5 ppg) is the team's leading scorer, but seven players average at least 6.4 points. AC led the Northeast-10 Conference in rebounding margin.
With 104 assists, Twomey is the first Assumption forward to go over 100 in the category since Mike Boylan in 1972-73.
"Greg really is the foundation of the program," said DeBari, a teammate of Boylan's during Assumption's glory years. "When I was coming (back) in and there was a little bit of rebuilding to be done, you need a foundation, a building block. He certainly is that. He also embodies what I think Assumption's program is all about - work ethic and caring and competing."
Twomey scored a school-record 1,712 points at Groton-Dunstable and led the Crusaders to two state finals and two Clark Tournament championships.
He is one of eight children - he's No. 7 - and usually has one of the larger cheering sections at Laska Gym. His older brother, Ed, played soccer for the Greyhounds. His younger sister Stasia plays basketball at Worcester State. Sports have always been the No. 1 family activity for the Twomeys.
"I think my parents (Joe and Gilda) know every gym and soccer field in Massachusetts," Twomey said.
Twomey has a year of eligibility remaining and plans to come back for a fifth season. He's still working out the academic details - he'll either pick up a second major or start working toward a graduate degree. Twomey will earn his bachelor's in management this spring.
Right now, Twomey's focused on the task at hand, and that's advancing in the NCAAs.
"We were at the bottom, and things weren't going very well, so it feels great to come from where we were," Twomey said. "We knew we had the tools. We put in the time, kept grinding, kept working hard."