Men's basketball battle in annual tourney for cancer awareness

by Matt Case / Beacon Staff • November 18, 2015

The men's basketball team placed second in the Greater Boston Shootout.
The men's basketball team placed second in the Greater Boston Shootout.

The men’s basketball team not only competed in last weekend’s Greater Boston Shootout, but fought for a cause, too.

Emerson took part in the annual season opening tournament Nov. 13 and 14, a contest they created and have participated in since in 2013. It features the same four squads: Emmanuel College, Regis College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and the Lions, in a winner vs. winner, loser vs. loser format. 

Every game is played at the same venue, with the host school rotating among the four participants each year. This year’s location was Weston, Massachusetts, home of the Regis Pride. 

Prior to the tournament, the Regis basketball program joined up with the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative to provide the teams and their spectators the opportunity to donate money and raise awareness for the disease.

Coaches vs. Cancer is a national effort formed by the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1998 who, according to the ACS website, have raised over $87 million for research. This is the first time in the Greater Boston Shootout that a charity has been incorporated.  

Emerson sophomore point guard Michael Sheng said starting the season with such an event brings more emotion to the games.  

“Obviously the first game is really important because you want to get off on a good start,” Sheng, a visual and media arts major, said. “But adding a cause makes a team more amped up and ready to go.” 

“I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way or another,” Lions head coach Bill Curley said. “Anything we can do to help ease people’s pain and help find a cure I think is a good thing.”

While admission to the tournament is usually free, Regis charged $5 for adults in an effort to raise money for cancer research, with all the proceeds going to ACS. Extra donations were also accepted at the entrance. 

Curley said Regis also asked each team to give $125, for a combined contribution of $500. 

The four tournament teams did not wear any supporting attire such as the usual pink jerseys or accessories for breast cancer, due to NCAA timing rules regarding applications for uniform changes. That is something senior captain and guard Mike Corcoran wishes the teams could have in years to come.  

“I would like to see it in the future,” Corcoran, a marketing communication major, said. “It’d bring all the players together.”  

In tournament action on Friday, Nov. 13, the Lions won their first game over Emmanuel 76-64 with 26 points from senior guard Michael Thorpe, and 21 from senior center Austin Pinckney. In the final on Saturday, Emerson fell to Regis 67-65 with Thorpe, Pinckney, and senior guard Tyson Hallowell all scoring over 10 points. They finished second out of the four teams.      

Pinckney and Hallowell were named to the All-Tournament team.  

Corcoran said sports and cancer awareness are such different events it’s inspiring when they come together. 

“It’s a really cool thing when you blend both together because it’s huge for the awareness,” Corcoran said. “Whether it’s a friend or family member that we’re connected with, it adds more to an event like this.”