Senior Kearney Shares Thoughts on Divison I Play,
What he Loves about Division III Cardinals
First-Team All-American Chris Kearney
The spring issue of The Catholic University of America Magazine features an interview with Steve Howes (B.A. 1996), the Cardinals’ head men’s basketball coach, and his mentor Mike Lonergan (B.A. 1988), head men’s basketball coach at Division I George Washington University. In November, the two coaches and their teams competed in an exhibition match-up, the third year in a row the CUA team went up against a Division I team in pre-season. In this web extra, center Chris Kearney gives the player’s perspective on the Division I experience and shares what he loves about being a Cardinal.
For the past three of his four years at CUA, senior Chris Kearney, a business management major from Centerville, Va., has entered the pre-season with an exhibition game against a Division I team. In 2010, the Cardinals took on Notre Dame, in 2011 it was the University of Florida Gators, and in 2012 they headed across town to play The George Washington University Colonials. Does the team feel intimidated? Kearney says “no,” thanks in large part to Coach Steve Howes’ strategy.
“Coach Howes tells us to think in terms of four minutes rather than the whole game. So we are out there playing as hard as we can to win each four-minute segment that we can,” says Kearney.
“The team really looks forward to these games and the challenges that come with them,” he says, even if they have lost all three of them. “These guys [on the other teams] are big and they’re good. Some of them are looking to be NBA prospects. They’re not going to leave anything off the court. And honestly I don’t think we’d want it any other way.”
Kearney says playing in Division I competition has been “eye-opening” beyond the game itself. “You’ve got big screens over your heads, press conferences, huge crowds screaming, and pretty impressive facilities. Coach Howes arranged for a tour of Florida’s football stadium for us. That was definitely cool.”
As much as he’s enjoyed the “bright lights of Division I,” Kearney says he is more than happy shooting hoops with his teammates at the Raymond A. DuFour Athletic Center at Catholic University. “Catholic University was the first to recruit me. The coaches presented the program to me as one with a family culture. And that sold me and has continued to be one of the most important characteristics of the program for me. We all support each other — starting at the top down to the freshmen.
“Coach Howes is in this business for all the right reasons. He loves the game. He loves the program. He loves the school. He was a player here,” says Kearney. “Whatever I do after I graduate, I hope to be as happy and dedicated as he is doing his job.”
Editor’s Note: After this interview and their November pre-season exhibition game against George Washington, the Cardinals went on to dominate the Landmark Conference. They posted a regular season record of 22 – 3 and were ranked 11th nationally. They took the conference championship and earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament, winning their first game against College of Staten Island before falling to Williams College in their second game.
Howes was named Landmark Conference Coach of the Year. Kearney was the Player and Defensive Player of the Year — the first time a player has been awarded both titles in one season. He was also named the Mid-Atlantic Player of the Year, a First-team All-District selection, and a First-Team All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Kearney was selected for the NABC All Star game held March 23.