On February 9, the men’s basketball team took on Babson College in a game that honored their four graduating senior captains: David Carbonello ‘19, Duaka Ekwensi ‘19, Nick Geremia ‘19 and Riley Tetreault ‘19. Unfortunately, despite a career-high 34-point performance from Carbonello, the injury-ridden Lyons were unable to overcome the Beavers and ultimately lost 80-65.
The loss, while not the final game of the season, sealed the Lyons’ fate, cutting them out of the NEWMAC tournament for the first time in three years. With their repeated past successes, missing out on the tournament was especially difficult for the graduating class. But even with an unfulfilling end, the passing of the 2018-19 season will be a significant event for the men’s basketball program.
One only has to look at the four senior captains—the most that head coach Brian Walmsley has ever had in his 21-year career—to understand that this team had a special group of guys. “They are all very reliable, very high basketball-IQ guys,” said Walmsley. “All four play multiple positions for us, and they can handle it because of their experience.”
The four players are the remainder of an original group of nine first-years, the largest class of Walmsley’s coaching history. “They’ve shown a lot of dedication to the men’s basketball program,” Walmsley explained. “It’s tough when you bring in a class that big. Not everyone is going to follow through, but these are the four guys that have stuck with it.”
Having played for the college for four entire years, each and every one of the captains has seen tremendous growth over their Wheaton career. Their influence has been felt both on and off of the court, as described by Walmsley: “Having four seniors has a huge impact. When we have team meetings, those guys know exactly what we’re thinking. They can relate from the film room, whether it’s scouting or what we as a team are trying to do, directly onto the court.”
While the four-captain system made for an untraditional team dynamic, Walmsley feels that they have done a good job. “They all have their different leadership skills and abilities,” he stated. “I’m really proud of how they kept the team together and played hard, despite all of the adversity that has hit second semester. We had a lot of stuff thrown at us this year that we did not anticipate back in October.”
First and foremost among these challenges was a succession of injuries, including one that affected senior captain Geremia, who missed most of the 2018-19 season. With a lack of depth in the squad, these injuries proved critical to the Lyons’ season, turning an excellent 10-1 start to a record of 11-12. After the injuries, the Lyons were “able to compete, but not able to get over the top and win those games,” said Walmsley.
Undeterred by the downturn of their season, the captains continued to lead by example, playing with passion and conviction. “For them to come to practice every day motivated, playing hard, and competing as hard as they can, it really makes you proud as a coach that they are high-character guys,” Walmsley finished. “I really can’t speak highly enough about them.”