By Michael Muldoon email@example.com
Romeo Diaz wasn’t overly concerned when he landed awkwardly attempting to block a shot in the summer of 2011.
“I heard a pop, but I didn’t think anything of it,” said the former Eagle-Tribune Super Teamer at Methuen High.
But then came the doctor’s report: torn plantar fascia in his right foot.
He tried to play, making two brief appearances for UMass Lowell. But it proved futile and he was redshirted.
“I feel 100 percent now,” said Diaz, who averaged 9.6 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds as a sophomore, while also leading the team with 21 blocks. “It was frustrating. You want to be out there.”
Especially since the River Hawks made the NCAA tourney for the second straight year.
He’s been sixth man this season.
“I’m not too worried about it,” said the 6-5 Diaz, who plans to come back for a fifth year next winter. “I just have to keep working. Our goals are to win a championship and make some noise in the NCAAs. We are very, very good.”
Coach Greg Herenda of North Andover is expecting big things from Diaz.
“He was a huge part of our (2011) NCAA Tournament run,” said Herenda. “He has come such a long way as a player since his high school days in Methuen and we are reaping the benefits. We can play him at three positions, which makes him very difficult to guard. And he has improved so much on the defensive side of the ball. Romeo remains a vital component to our program’s success.”
Bramanti couldbe starting
Former Eagle-Tribune Super Teamer Joe Bramanti has taken his talents to Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, where he is playing for Billy Donlon Jr., the son of the former Methuen High coach.
The 6-2, 195-pound “Brama Bull,” who did a prep year last year at Brewster, could see immediate playing time.
“Joe Bramanti is right there,” Donlon told the Dayton Daily News.
He actually started Saturday’s exhibition opener vs. Central State. Bramanti scored two points and had four steals before fouling out in 22 minutes.
In a recent Daily News blog item, the coach said of Bramanti, “He’s a much better athlete than people give him credit for. He’s just got to continue to work to shoot the ball more consistently. But he can guard multiple positions as a freshman. To me, that’s always a plus. He takes care of the ball.”
Carson Desrosiers from Windham is sitting out this his junior year as a transfer at Providence College, where he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining. The 7-foot, 250-pound former Central Catholic All-American was one of a slew of top players to leave struggling Wake Forest after last season.
Desrosiers started 16 of 31 games last winter when he averaged 4.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. The 1.9 blocks ranked him fourth in the rugged ACC.
PC fans are fired up to see Desrosiers in a real game next year after he grabbed seven rebounds in 10 minutes in a recent open scrimmage.
Tom Hamel, a 6-9, 235-pound junior from Methuen and Phillips, is a reserve big man at Harvard.
Freshman Georges Niang is being counted on to deliver from the get-go at Iowa State. He enjoyed a brilliant five-year career at Tilton Prep. Last year the 6-7, 245-pound forward averaged 25.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. He soared to a No. 56 ESPNU national ranking in the senior class.
High hopes for Hartung at St. Anselm’s
St. Anselm’s freshman class is highlighted by 6-5 sharpshooter Ryan Hartung of Haverhill, an Eagle-Tribune All-Star from Phillips Academy.
Sophomore Jimmy Zenevitch of Methuen, the former Eagle-Tribune MVP from Central Catholic, averaged 6.2 points and 4.0 rebounds last year as a part-timer starter at Assumption. He is a 6-8, 270-pound forward-center.
Timberlane graduate Andrew Papaefthemiou is a second-year assistant coach for the Greyhounds.
Former Salem great Josh Jones, a 6-3 junior guard at Franklin Pierce, hopes to return to form after missing the last two years with major injuries to both his knees.
Ex-Andover sharpshooter Casey Cosgrove is an assistant at Franklin Piece.
Senior Billy Marsden of Pelham, the former Eagle-Tribune MVP for Central Catholic, is playing at Southern New Hampshire. Last year the 5-11 guard averaged 2.0 points a game.
Former Pinkerton star Jeremy Currier is entering his third year as head coach at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina.
It’s Justin time
at Salem State
Senior quad-captain Justin Nieves of Lawrence is a four-year starting point guard at Salem State, where he averaged 8.4 points last season and earned rave reviews for his defense.
Connor Arnold of Andover, a 6-3 junior guard at Brandeis, is fighting through knee injuries which have dogged him the last few years. He’ll be joined by 6-0 freshman guard Colby Smith of North Andover.
Lawrence 6-foot freshman guard Leonny Burgos is playing at Lyndon State. Another freshman playing in the Green Mountain State is 5-11 guard Jimmy Warden of North Andover.
Newbury’s 5-11 sophomore guard Milciades Carrasco from Haverhill and Whittier Tech averaged 4.4 points last year.
Londonderry’s David Feinstein, a 6-foot junior guard at Daniel Webster, averaged 4.5 points last year. He’ll be joined on the Eagles by Alberto Acosta and Hector Heredia, a couple of 5-7 sophomore guards from Lawrence and Northern Essex.
Joe Gallant (5.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, team-high 22 blocks, 4 starts), a 6-4 forward from Salem, is coming off a strong freshman campaign at Nichols.
Most improved Hatton
Erik Hatton from Timberlane went from JV player as a sophomore to varsity starter last year. The 6-3 RPI senior averaged 3.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals.Two-sport terrors
Last year as a junior, Fitchburg State’s 6-foot forward Jesus Moore of Lawrence contributed 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds a game. Moore is currently starring on the defensive line for the Falcons football team.
Jaymie Spears of Haverhill, who is enjoying a fine football season, is a promising 5-9 freshman guard at Amherst. He starred at powerhouse St. Mark’s. Spears is being reunited with his former prep school teammate Peter Kaasila. The 6-9, 260-pound senior from Plaistow averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds and shot a stellar .574 from the floor last winter.
Amherst went 26-3 and made the Sweet 16 last year under coach David Hixon, an Andover Hall of Famer who boasts a 663-250 record in 35 seasons. Freshman Kyle “Beans” Palladino of North Andover is a team manager at Bridgewater State.
Former three-year Keene State captain Steve Boudreau of North Andover is a new assistant with the Owls.
Bartley and the boys
Andover native Chris Bartley has built one of the strongest programs in New England at WPI. Bartley, who has guided the Engineers to eight straight 20-win seasons, brought in a monster recruiting class led by Eagle-Tribune MVP Zach Karalis, a 6-3 guard from North Andover, high-flying 6-4 guard James Costello from Andover, and scrappy 6-5 forward Mike Moroney of North Andover.
They’ll join 6-4 sophomore forward Domenick Mastascusa of North Reading, who averaged 4.9 points a game last year.
Wheaton’s Jaycob Morales from Lawrence and Central Catholic hopes to build off a strong freshman campaign. He started seven games and averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 rebounds a game.
Emerson brought in 5-10 freshman guard Mike Carbone from North Reading and St. John’s Prep. Ex-Andover star Jack Barrett is an assistant at Emerson.
Anna Maria will look to a pair of area returning starters: sophomore 5-10 point guard Michael Gorman of Methuen (2.8 points, 2.5 assists) and senior 6-3 swingman Javier Bristol from Haverhill (9.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals. Also, senior 6-6 Jose Pena from Lawrence and Central Catholic is back after sitting out last season.
Last year as a sophomore, Emmanuel point guard D.J. Fazio of Andover High and Methuen dished out 2.4 assists a game off the bench, third best on the team. He scored 1.2 points a game.
Kevin Lentini of North Reading, a 6-4 senior at Bates, saw action in four games last year.
Well known former area coach Jamie Cosgrove is entering his third year at Trinity. One of his top young players is Steve Spirou of Pelham, a 6-4 sophomore forward who averaged 2.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.7 minutes a game last year.
St. Joseph’s of Maine brought in a pair of sharpshooting local freshman guards in 6-0 Corey McNamara from Pentucket and 5-10 Craig Luschenat from Andover.
Haverhill’s 6-8 Tom Palleschi, who surpassed 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Phillips, is a promising freshman at Tufts.
NECC’s super duo
Northern Essex has stockpiled local talent led by former Eagle Tribune Super Teamers Jaylen Alicea and Franklin Martinez, a pair of freshman guards from Lawrence High, and Eagle-Tribune All-Star Will Angelini, a freshman forward from Pentucket.
Other local Knights are Wilfredo Andujar, Junior Veras and Malcolm Rodriguez of Lawrence, Jarvis Castro and Ryan Freeman of Methuen, Kyle Davis and Neph Carmona of Haverhill, Desmond Obi of Danville and Matt Sifferlen of North Andover,
Area scoring king Chris Light, the 6-2 Pinkerton grad, is a freshman at Community College of Rhode Island.
At New Hampshire Technical Institute, 6-4 Ken Ibizugbe from Methuen is a sophomore forward and 6-1 Zach Stevens from Londonderry and Trinity High is a sophomore guard.
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.