2005-01-07 / Sports

Benn’s Tenacity Leads To Hoops Success

By Elio Velez


Speed is one asset that Carl Benn, a 5-11 point guard from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, has used o win at every level that he has played. It is also his determination and doggedness that has kept him winning at the high school and college level.

From the Sorrentino Center, Woodmere Academy and on to Division II’s University of Massachusettes-Lowell, Benn had used his athletic ability to dictate the tempo of the game. With two New York State high school championships at Woodmere and consecutive Northeast Conference Division II championships with Lowell, Benn has been a key cog in his teams’ success.

Benn is confident about his belief that he can compete with anyone. Not the biggest kid on the court at 5’11, he can display a burst of speed that can amaze his teammates, opponents and coaches.

“When he uses his speed, he’s dangerous. With the ball, he may be one of the fastest players I have ever seen,” says UMASS Lowell head coach Ken Barer. “I challenge the team in practice to keep up with him.”

Woodmere head coach Jeff Weitz saw his former star pupil play recently at C.W. Post’s Holiday Tournament. He was impressed once again of the 5- 11 point guard.

“He didn’t start but his speed and quickness took over the game,” Weitz said of Benn, who finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in a 69-65 win over New York Tech.

The opportunity to succeed on the court and academically would be at Woodmere Academy in Lawrence. The school has a history of Far Rockaway players attending the school, with Kareem Shabazz and Rashaun Banjo among notable players who have gone on to success in college.

“It was a good academic program. I won two state championships that was definitely one of my great achievements,” Benn said.

Weitz knew little of Benn when he first tried out for the team. “As a ninth grader, Benn was small in stature but he looked like a player.”

Though not starting his freshman year at Woodmere, Weitz said Benn made an impact off the bench to help Woodmere capture the 1999 New York State C Championship.

In his sophomore year, Benn was itching to lead the ballclub as a starter at the point and got the nod. The team lost in the semifinal of the State C championship year and Benn was upset about the loss.

He does not appreciate losing at all. That fueled his motivation to help Woodmere capture the Class C State Championship in his senior year. On the way

Benn spoke of one memory that stands out in his final season.

“There was one game I remember when we beat Long Island Lutheran. It was the first time in years that we beat that team,” Benn said.

“He’s got a lot of confidence. He was very motivated to get back upstate to win,” Weitz said. “He felt he had to do it.”

“I try to play every game with a sense of urgency,” says Benn.

The position of point guard is not just about using quickness to succeed according to Benn. At Lowell, his major is liberal arts but is leaning towards eventually studying psychology, which he applies on the court.

“I study people and how they interact. You have to know what their tendencies are and how to attack their weaknesses,” according to Benn.

Halfway through the 2003-2004 season, Benn got the chance to become the fulltime starter. It wasn’t all roses as Lowell lost the first two games with him at the point.

“He took it hard because he didn’t want to lose,” Barer, who is his seventh season as head coach, says. “But he knows what it takes to win and we won 13 games in a row and didn’t finish until we were eliminated in the (NCAA Division II Playoffs) Final Eight.”

The 2004-2005 campaign will be a little different for Benn. It’s a young squad that’s on the floor and there will be growing pains. Benn notes that the team has plenty of athletes whose growins pains would diminish enough to contribute to victories. He also relishes the chance to become one of the veteran leaders at Lowell.

Barer has no doubt that Benn’s ability and lerdership qualities can help Lowell repeat once again as the Northeast Conferece-10 champions.

“He is lightening fast. He puts a lot of pressure on the ballhandler. His speed and quickness can take over a game,” Barer said.

“We’ve got guys who can score but he can break down a defense and make the play.

He knows that his primary role is not to score but he’s capable of it. He’s a dangerous guy on the court.”

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