Flashback Friday looks at the top moments from the 2014-15 athletic year at the College of Staten Island. This week we reflect on the 3rd-highest moment of the past year, when the CSI Men’s Basketball team repeated as ECAC Champions in early-March. Entering as the No. 5 seed in the tournament, CSI scored three straight upsets, culminating in an 84-80, double-overtime, victory over NYU on a night when junior Will Fonseca would score 41 points and break the school’s all-time single season point scoring record.
#3 – Men’s Basketball – ECAC CHAMPS IN DOUBLE-OT THRILLER
Date: March 8, 2015
Who: CSI Men’s Basketball Team
Where: Brooklyn, NY
What Happened: After falling in the opening round of the CUNYAC Tournament, CSI was seeking some much-needed redeption, and found it for the second-straight year by way of the ECAC Metro NY/NJ Tournament. To win would be a tall order, as CSI was pitted as the No. 5 seed in the eight-team class. The Dolphins bounced Lehman College, 76-65, before knocking out top seeded and host Brooklyn College, 82-79. Next up was New York University, ranked No. 16 nationally by BennettRank.com. The insipired Dolphins proved more than capable, taking an early-lead before having to come back to force overtime. After another five-minute stalemate, the Dolphins powered in the second overtime, ultimately taking an 84-80 winner. Defensively, the Dolphins held the Violets to just 33% shooting and forced 20 turnovers. Offensively, the team rallied behind scoring dynamo Will Fonseca, who canned 41 points, the second-highest total in CSI single game history en route to breaking the school’s single season scoring record with 732 points. The performance was magnified by the fact that Fonseca had lost his brother just days earlier to cancer, and the junior contemplated whether he would even play the last two games of CSI’s postseason. Fonseca was the unanimous choice for MVP, averaging 31.3 points in the trio of games. More history was made with the win, as CSI head coach Tony Petosa became the CUNYAC’s all-time winningest coach, men’s or women’s, in the conference’s history with 420 wins. It also marked the school’s third ECAC title and its first back-to-back championship in history.
Looking back…with Will Fonseca
The team suffered a disappointing loss in the CUNYAC Quarterfinals. What was it like having to wait over a week to hear about and play in the ECAC’s. What was the team’s mindset? Losing in the quarterfinals was heart-breaking. Honestly, it showed our inexperience as a unit. The wait to know about the ECAC’s was excruciating because we knew at that point that we no longer had control of our own fate.
To get to NYU, you had to get through Lehman and Brooklyn, two teams that beat you by 20 points during the year. What was the gameplan on beating them? We always had a great gameplan to beat Lehman and Brooklyn, we just weren’t able to execute the way we wanted to the last time we played them. We hold our heads up on being able to stop people and rebound and we weren’t motivated to do that until we knew it was now or never.
Your brother passed away due to illness and it hit you very hard. How did you manage to get yourself up to play that weekend against Brooklyn and NYU? It was my team, coaching staff, and the rest of my CSI family that motivated me to play. It’s a pretty close knit community at CSI and we look out for each other so I wanted to be there for them the way they were there for me. Plus, my bro wouldn’t want me moping around, he’d want me to handle my business regardless.
Not many had the faith that you could beat a very big and talented NYU team What was the feeling like in the locker room going in? Did you ever think you’d be able to put in the performance you did? Honestly, they were bigger, stronger, and probably more talented than us all-around but basketball is a game of chemistry and continuity, so once we are clicking I feel we can beat anyone. Plus, I believe in myself and feel I can be the best player on the floor regardless of who we play, so we always have a shot in my eyes.
You admitted to being exhausted near the end of that game, but you were still able to score 41 points, 13 rebounds and a couple of blocks in the game. During the game, were you aware you were making history? I wasn’t aware of it at all actually. All I knew is that we were going out and competing at a very high level and that it was the last game of the season. We just wanted it so badly.
You had a great game, but many of your teammates did too, especially with some extraordinary defense on NYU’s marquee players. How proud were you of the team’s performance overall? I can’t explain in words how proud I am of those guys. The effort on defense and just in general was amazing. Just making play after play, they just inspired me.
The goal is to win a CUNYAC Championship, but does winning a ECAC title, and you being named MVP give you some vindication to the year? Not really. We have a goal as a team and we all know what it is so with that being said it’s pretty much championship or bust for us. We won’t put in all the work for anything less.