Sun Valley's Vinny DeAngelo (above) has played a key reserve role for national No. 1 Swarthmore as a freshman. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
James Wagner (@wagssid)
SWARTHMORE, Pa. – There is a lot of adjusting that goes on during the first semester of college.
Learning professors’ names, selecting classes and adjusting to life away from home can very challenging.
Now, add into the equation that you are a student at one of the most academically challenging institutions in the country. Mix in that you are a student-athlete, playing on the number one men’s basketball team in Division III.
Sounds pretty tough? Oh, and in addition to your final exams, finishing last minute projects and preparing to head home…your last game of the semester is against the number 11th ranked team in the country.
For Swarthmore freshman guard Vinny DeAngelo, the Sun Valley product has lived all of these during his first semester for the Garnet.
And it’s safe to say, he’s adjusting pretty well.
In eight games this season for the top-ranked Garnet, he is averaging just under seven points while playing close to 20 minutes per game. In the matchup against Johns Hopkins, he scored four points but provided quality minutes for the Garnet in the win over the Blue Jays.
With junior guard Abass Sallah sidelined with a wrist injury suffered the first game of the year, DeAngelo's presence as a ball-handler (27 ast/17 TO) and outside shooter (.467) has been a welcome presence for the Garnet.
"He's a quick learner, so he's done that well," head coach Landry Kosmalski said. "I think the only thing that's out of his control, is being a point guard in our system is very difficult and challenging and complicated. He's picked it up quick, but there's like five times more to learn as a point guard than as a four-man. But he's doing as good a job as anyone we've ever had with it.
"He's playing really well for a guy with nine college games under his belt."
With the Vanguards last season, DeAngelo certainly found success, winning the District 1 5A championship, going 21-7 before bowing out to Abington Heights in the state quarterfinals. He finished his high school career with more than 1,700 points, averaging over 22 ppg as a senior. This year, he's seen even more winning: after the first semester, Swarthmore stands at 9-0 and 4-0 in the loaded Centennial Conference.
And while the Garnet working on the team on the court, the team is also making sure that success on the court continues in the classroom.
“The first semester has been great, and the guys have been real supportive on the academic side,” said DeAngelo after the game Tuesday night. “With all the freshman coming in, they have been giving us tips and pointers on how to get through the first semester.”
And as for the basketball court...
“It’s been a blast playing with these guys, getting to know them.”
That’s key for a Swarthmore team that was the national runner up last season, and has remained atop the polls through the first two months of the season. The Garnet passed its first semester final exam by defeating Johns Hopkins 67-62 on Tuesday night. This comes less than nine days after escaping Ursinus with an 88-86 win.
As mentioned before, this game was played when most students are getting ready for final exams. For student-athletes, this is common place to play some tough contests when you are trying to study for an important exam.
“Good time management,” is how DeAngelo described his preparation for this contest. “Everyone tells you that when you go to college, you will have all this time. But, you will have to learn how to manage it.”
“I had that in the back of my head, but, it didn’t really hit me until through the first couple weeks of the semester and I was like ‘Wow! I really do have to plan out my day’,” he added.
That early semester realization came in handy in Tuesday’s game.
“We just didn’t try to over think it,” DeAngelo said, when referring to the preparation for Tuesday night’s game. “We kept it simple, stayed within ourselves during practice and got better every day during practice knowing that when it came to game time, we would keep to our level of training and do what we do.”
As for the game itself, Swarthmore rallied after being down by as much as eight in the first half to take a 34-27 lead at intermission. The Garnet shot 51 percent from the field in the contest (24-for-47) and held Johns Hopkins to just 13.3 percent (2-for-15) from the three-point line in the second half. Nate Shafer had a team-high 15 points for Swarthmore, while Colin Shaw added in 13. Conner Delaney had 22 points for Johns Hopkins in the loss. Swarthmore now will take the rest of the calendar year off, before taking on the University of Rochester on January 2 at home.