Division 3 all-star squad looking to build on strong TBT 2018 showing

 

By: George Abunaw | @GTAbunaw14


We Are D3 is back and ready to prove the doubters wrong

Even the most diehard We Are D3 fans were shocked at halftime of the team’s first-ever TBT game last summer. Despite coming into the game as quite possibly the biggest underdog in TBT history, the team of former Division III standouts led Sons of Westwood (UCLA alumni) 44-38 with just 18 minutes to go.

Then it all went downhill.

Despite the inspired start, Sons of Westwood outscored D3 52-21 in the second half and cruised to a 90-65 victory. 

“It was a great opportunity, and at the end of the day, our whole idea was built around the fact that D3 kids have never gotten their fair share of notoriety and opportunity and that was sort of our marching cry,” said Matt Droney, a former D3 player at Babson and current Assistant Coach of We Are D3. “What better platform could you want than against UCLA in Los Angeles?”

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With their first go-around in TBT behind them, We Are D3 is set to return and ready to learn from last years’ experience.

“Dan Friel and Jon Mugar (Co-Founders of TBT) were both super helpful and gave us some tips along the way and really helped us out throughout the process,” said Droney.“I think Mike [Rejniak] and I both really enjoyed the process and it was well done on TBT’s end.”

Immediately following the loss to Sons of Westwood, the We Are D3 staff began searching for new recruits to revamp the team. It ended being a complete overhaul. The team will feature nine newcomers and zero returnees in TBT 2019.

“Our biggest change is that we're going to have nine guys that are currently playing professionally,” said Droney, “and that’s not a knock on the guys that we had last year, they were awesome and we loved them. It's just really difficult to ask someone that hasn't been playing professionally to step up and play a really competitive game, so I think that was the biggest thing that stood out to us.”

One of the new recruits is Brandon Federici, a former All-American at Franklin and Marshall who currently suits up overseas for Nuovo Basket Fossombrone in Italy.

Like everyone else representing We Are D3, Federici comes into TBT with a chip on his shoulder, ready to prove any skeptics about D3 players wrong.

“I think for all of us - and I know for a fact for me personally - I’ve been looked over and doubted because I chose to play at Division III school,” said Federici. “This summer I’m ready to prove to everyone that D3 players can compete and go toe to toe with anyone no matter who comes at us.”

As the 8-seed in this summer’s Syracuse Regional, We Are D3 will have to face Boeheim’s Army in front of thousands of Orange faithful. Despite the tall task ahead, We Are D3 still has confidence in its abilities. 

“The only difference I really see is that the guys that play Division I are usually a little bit taller, a little bit quicker, a little bit stronger, and maybe their arms are a little bit longer,” said Droney. “When it gets down to the skill set, that stuff we feel translates no question.”

Though the athleticism of Boeheim’s Army will be hard to match, We Are D3 knows there are areas of the game where they hope to excel over their opponents.

“We have a lot of really good shooters,” said Droney, “so we feel if we’re going to have an advantage it's going to be from the three-point line. Just like last year we also have guys that are really hungry and they appreciate what D3 has done for them, but they also can appreciate the stigma against Division III players.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to get out there and finally play on the big stage with everybody watching,” added Federici. “We have the same goal as every team...we’re trying to win the whole thing.”

No. 8 We Are D3 takes on No. 1 Boeheim’s Army on Friday, July 26 at 7pm EDT. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.