TELEGRAM: Greyhound men's basketball ready to win, now!November 4, 2007
By Kevin O'Malley
Telegram & Gazette Correspondent
WORCESTER- Entering the third season of his second tour as coach of the Assumption College basketball team, Serge DeBari is starting to feel the pressure to produce.
"This year, obviously, is the third year of our rebuilding program, so this is the year that there is a sense of urgency to put the losing behind us," DeBari said. "I think, as a team, what we want to do is get into the upper echelon of the Northeast-10. We've been in the bottom half for a while, and last year we had a very disappointing ending to the season."
The Greyhounds looked great at times last year, never more than in their upset of nationally ranked Saint Rose, which saw DeBari join the ranks of 300-game winners, but the season ended with four straight losses to finish 11-17.
"We were in the top half of the league and had a wonderful win against Saint Rose, then the bottom fell out and we lost some tough games, so we went from the top of the league to the bottom of the league," DeBari said. "That's what's so difficult about the league - it's just combat every year.
"It's very difficult to win in this league if you don't have people that understand what it is to have to play hard every minute of every game. It's a task that is easily spoken, but difficult to learn."
Senior captain and former Groton-Dunstable Regional star Greg Twomey certainly has learned that lesson. Twomey knows firsthand how tough the league can be, but feels the team learned a lot from last year's close losses and can use that experience to turn them into wins.
"The NE-10 is a really tough league, you have to bring your ‘A' game and you've really got to scrap every game," Twomey said. "It's one or two plays every game that really is the difference between winning and losing. We were right there in a lot of games and we lost a lot of real close games. We also won a few close games, too, but this year we have to use our experience to our advantage."
"We got a core group of seniors. We've been together since freshman year, obviously, and we haven't had much success, but we have improved each year and this year we are looking to improve much more," Twomey said. "We want to make this season one to remember."
If everyone works as hard as Twomey does every day, DeBari certainly will be pleased, even if the team somehow still isn't able to win.
"Greg is a warrior - that's the word to describe him," DeBari said. "If everybody you coached played as hard as Greg Twomey, then every coach in the country would be smiling every day. He's just a wonderful guy to coach. He just understands what competition is all about.
"Whether it be today (against UNH), against UConn, or the first day at practice, there is no difference. He has a total commitment, so he is certainly one of those classic lead-by-example type of guys."
DeBari is hoping freshman Mike Baldarelli (Holy Name), another Central Mass. product, will follow the example Twomey sets on and off the court.
"He's learning from the best, so to speak," DeBari said. "Twomey is a great person to have as a captain of the team because, as a coach, you just point at him and say, ‘Well, he does it, so you have to do it.' "
DeBari is pleased to have the reigning Massachusetts basketball player of the year at Assumption, but cautioned against expecting too much too soon out of Baldarelli.
"We were looking for an explosive wing man and scorer and that is exactly what Michael is," DeBari said. "In many ways, he is very similar to Greg. I would categorize Michael as a warrior also.
"The community of Worcester might have great expectations for Michael to come to Assumption and be a star right away and that is not going to happen - not right away. Everyone has to pay his dues. He's learning and he has capabilities. He understands that there is a work ethic involved, but part of the process is experience and you can't rush that."