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The Scarlet & Black

Spotlight: Vinny Curta

Photo by Liam Li Vinny Curta ’19 has lead the Men’s Basketball Team in points scored and continues to be invaluable to the Pioneers.

By Jonathan Sundby

On Jan. 25, the Pioneers played a tight game with Cornell College. It was one of those tense games where every point matters, and in this atmosphere Vinny Curta ‘19 managed to put up 40 of them. Cornell answered Curta at each opportunity, however, and as the clock worked its way down to only four seconds, they held a two-point lead over Grinnell, 116-114.

“I had fouled out, I was on the bench basically becoming a cheerleader at that point,” Curta said. “And my teammate, Jacob Ekstrand ‘18 hit a huge shot with the time running out on the clock, and that has to top all the points that I scored. It was just a huge shot.”

Due to both Curta’s tenacious playing and Ekstrand’s well-placed three point shot, Grinnell managed to leave Mt. Vernon, Iowa with another win, and Curta with a new personal record. Curta’s 40 points registered as a career high for the second-year, but this offensive hot streak is not an unusual occurrence. Curta has been the top scorer on the Grinnell Men’s Basketball team for most of the season, and is currently ranked 4th in Division III for average points-per-game.

“Me and Juilan Marx [‘17], a senior, were kind of going back and forth during the beginning of the year, and then I had some higher scoring games more recently. I don’t know where the difference is now, but I think he’s only a couple points behind me,” Curta said.

The close competition within the team for the most points-per-game is indicative of the Pioneer’s unique style, which has adopted the “System” over more traditional strategies. The goal of the System is to wear down opponents through a fast-paced, offensive barrage – an approach that lends itself to high-scoring games and players. Curta’s role in the System is as a point guard, and instead of following in the footsteps of Grinnell’s famous leading scorer Jack Taylor ‘15, who favored three-point shots, Curta likes to work up close near the basket.

“I definitely have a better inside game than outside game,” Curta said. “A lot of teams play zone versus us … so we try to get to the middle of the zone and just try to create something from there. But I’ve actually been shooting a ton of free throws, so that’s the bulk of my points.”

Although Curta takes a slightly different approach to playing in the System than many of his teammates, he is well-acquainted with the strategy. In high school, his coach and father researched Men’s Basketball Coach Dave Arsenault’s playing style and implemented it with their team.

“I ran it all four years of high school, which is how I got recruited here and how my brother [Nicholas Curta ‘17] got recruited here … Coach Arsenault actually came to watch some of [our] games, and liked the way we played so they brought us here to continue the System,” Curta said.

Having been immersed in the System for six years, it seems like Pioneer basketball has sunk deep into the Curtas’ veins. Even today, the brothers always play on the court together as part of the same squad, albeit with different styles.

“[Nick] usually goes corner to corner, playing underneath the basket. I usually penetrate and we’re really cohesive using the defenders, what the defense gives us. He’s really good at making cuts and making eye contact with me and kind of flowing that way,” Curta explained.

You can witness the brother’s game-day chemistry this Saturday in Darby Gym, as the Pioneers take on St. Norbert College, who currently are ranked 10th in the nation for Division III Men’s Basketball.

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