It seemed like only yesterday when all the basketball fans following their beloved Chargers were in mourning. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay bound senior Kam Cerroni was injured during the football season, and his torn ACL would force to miss his senior season at Hamilton.
The do-it-all guard could shoot, handle the basketball, direct the team and get the ball to the open player at will. He was already the school's all-time leading scorer. It was a blow to Hamilton and to Cerroni, but it wouldn't be the first time his senior year looked radically different from the first three.
Cerroni played three seasons at NCAA Division I Green Bay before electing to transfer to nearby St. Norbert College, home to a powerful on-the-rise Division III men's basketball program in De Pere.
The change in venue worked well for Cerroni, who helped the Green Knights to a 25-2 record, including a second-round appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. After defeating Ohio Wesleyan University in the opening round, 87-79, St. Norbert's incredible 23-game winning streak came to an end with a 84-68 loss against Illinois Wesleyan in the second round.
St. Norbert's went into the second-round game ranked No. 5 in the Nation by D3hoops.com.
Cerroni was a welcome addition to a team that returned a solid nucleus and qualified for the NCAA Divison III Tournament last season, when the Green Knights won 20 times.
"Adding someone with the talent and skill set like Kam has doesn't always mean instant success. Everyone has to make adjustments in their game for the betterment of the team," St. Norbert head men's basketball coach Gary Grzesk said. "You may not be getting as many minutes or shots; everyone has to be unselfish, and they were."
Grzesk was voted Midwest Conference Coach of the Year to go along with National Association of Basketball Coaches Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors.
Cerroni, who was voted second team all-Midwest Region for his efforts, had a team-leading 16.5 points per game average, a nearly unheard of 54.1 percent 3-point shooting percentage and 92.9 percent mark at the foul line. He shot 54.3 percent from the field. The 3-point percentage led all Division III marksmen this winter.
The former Hamilton star was thankful for his chance with the program.
"Coach Grzesk didn't have to do this for me, letting me come in here to get a chance to play on a really good team," Cerroni said. "And all the guys on the team also gave me a chance, and I'm thankful for that. They're all great teammates. Everyone got along all season."
Cerroni said one of the games he remembered most was one of the run-ins with Grinnell College, a team that insists on getting up and down the court, taking as many shots a game as humanly possible.
"There were a lot of fouls, and with the fast pace, everyone contributed," Cerroni said. "Some of the guys that didn't get a lot of minutes got them in that game and helped us succeed. We had players working hard every day in practice here, and that made us better."
Of course, Cerroni and the Green Knights would have liked to go even further. Cerroni will.
"I hope to graduate and student-teach next fall," Cerroni said. "And I'd love to teach and hopefully coach. Just have to wait and see where I end up, I guess."
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