Men's Basketball: Fitz showing range, Sashin takes on former teammate

by Matt Couture / Beacon Staff • January 26, 2017

If one were playing with Emerson’s men’s basketball team on NBA 2K, Lions forward Corey Fitz would have the fire logo above his head.

Entering play Wednesday, the junior had drained all of his last seven three-point shots, including four against conference opponent MIT on Saturday. Added to his other scoring, that’s good for 27 points over the last three contests. 

Fitz said before knocking down all three of his long distance shots when the Lions visited Wheaton on Jan. 18, he adjusted his shooting process. He hasn’t missed since.

“Before our game against Wheaton, I got into the gym and got more shots up than I have all year, and noticed that if I kept my eyes on the rim, it started to go in more, so I changed my shot back to how it used to be,” Fitz said. “Early in the season, I’d gotten away from that, and that’s why I hadn’t been shooting well, and now it came back.”

Head coach Bill Curley counts Fitz among his best shooters, and said the large roster the Lions sported last year, combined with head and ankle injuries Fitz suffered as an underclassman, limited his minutes in his freshman and sophomore seasons. With a younger roster now, Fitz has played a bigger role from the outset.

Fitz is averaging just under 24 minutes a game, and has attempted 59 threes in 18 games. 

Lions hang with MIT

While Emerson (4-14, 0-7) was unable to pick up its first NEWMAC win against MIT, the final 30 minutes of the game were fairly evenly matched. The Engineers started the game on a 9-0 run, and led 16-2 just over five minutes in. Emerson shaved that 14-point deficit in half by the break, and was outscored by just two points in the second half, but fell 76-67.

MIT matched up closely with Babson, the top Division III team in the country and current NEWMAC leader, losing by six to the Beavers on Jan. 18, 71-65. Curley said the Lions have the ability to match opponents point-for-point, but haven’t been able to do it for the full length of a game.

“I think if you looked at our schedule, and looked at the scores this year, we’ve proven we can play with everybody,” Curley said. “Can we play with them for 40 minutes? That’s a different story. I think everyone we’ve played, we’ve been with them within a half or 30 minutes. It’s been getting to that full 40 that’s been our Achilles’ heel.”

Vineyard alumni meet on court

Those who know Martha’s Vineyard probably know it as a beautiful, sun-soaked getaway spot best saved for the spring and summer months. But there are some folks who call the Massachusetts island home long after Giordano’s Italian restaurant closes up shop for the season.

Saturday’s game program featured a rare sight: two recruited players from the small Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (enrollment: under 700). Both Lions center Mac Sashin and MIT forward Tim Roberts played high school ball in M.V.

Sashin said he and Roberts played AAU basketball together as well, and remain in contact, usually catching up twice a week. The former teammates shared the floor for a few minutes on Saturday, and got together for a photo-op afterwards.

“It’s a very small town, and people are proud of where we’re from down there, and I think the ability for both of us to represent Martha’s Vineyard in the NEWMAC, it’s a very special opportunity,” Sashin said. “We’re not going to take these four years lightly for it.” 

Sashin said it is indeed unusual for two athletes to be sought after from the same graduating class on the island. The last basketball recruit he could remember prior to him and Roberts was Steve Handy, who played at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth before returning to Oak Bluffs as the freshman coach at Martha’s Vineyard High.

“We pushed each other every day when we were down there, and the main thing is that we were always in the gym, we always worked hard, we were always trying to see who could edge each other out,” Sashin said. “Because [of] that friendly competition, because we pushed each other, I think it led to success for us.” 

Up next

After a 77-60 loss to Springfield on Wednesday night, Emerson travels to Babson for a 3 p.m.  rematch Saturday against the top-ranked Beavers. Curley said Emerson needs to play as a unit to upset a team like Babson after a 100-76 home defeat on Jan. 4.

“We gave Babson a million layups,” Curley said. “We were right there—we were down five at half—we can definitely play with everybody, but we can’t do it as fifteen individuals, we’ve got to do it as one Emerson team.”