Curta and Morrissey’s career day

Vinny Curta ’19 and Kayla Morrissey ’18 hit career milestones last weekend against Kansas Christian University. Photo by Mai Phuong Vu.

By Quan Tran
tranminh2@grinnell.edu

The crowd at last Saturday’s basketball games witnessed an incredible performance from both Vinny Curta ’19 and Kayla Morrissey ’18. In the final game against nonconference opponents of the season, Curta tallied a career-high 52 points with only 18 minutes played. Morrissey hit an even bigger career milestone: she scored her 1000th career point. Coincidentally, Curta had also reached his 1000th career point in his previous match against Central College.

Curta, the recent Midwest Conference player of the week, didn’t even realize he’d broken his own scoring record until he talked about it with his team after the game. In an email to The S&B about his recent feat, Curta kept his response in a very humble tone, not forgetting to mention his teammates.

“I’m honestly glad that we were able to play well and get the win — it would have been disappointing to score a high number individually but lose,” Curta wrote.

Only five games into the season, this has already been Curta’s second 50-plus point game and the third one in which the Pioneers put up around 150 total points. One could say the “Grinnell system” — a run-and-gun and 3-point shooting-focused tactic introduced to the program by coach Dave Arseneault nearly 30 years ago — has been taken to new heights this year. The apple never falls far from the tree, as his son Dave Arseneault Jr. was recently appointed head coach, and the Pioneers’ offensive prowess seems to be firing on all cylinders.

“[T]here haven’t been monumental changes implemented [at all]. Coach Dave has done an exceptional job so far of putting shifts together that optimize our offensive and defensive potential. He has become a master of knowing exactly what position certain guys will excel at,” Curta wrote regarding the “system” this season.

Minutes before Curta took the court, Darby Gymnasium commemorated Morrissey’s 1000th point. She is the ninth player in Grinnell women’s basketball history to score 1000 points. Morrissey expressed joy over her rare achievement:

“I was pretty happy. It’s a cool thing to achieve. At the end of last season, I kind of knew [scoring 1000 career points] was possible. Back in high school, I didn’t get to achieve it, so it’s definitely a cool feeling.”

Not only Morrissey herself, but head women’s basketball coach Dana Harrold, had great words for the senior captain’s feat.

“This means a lot to me as a coach, [because] Kayla is the first player that I recruited to Grinnell and I knew she had the potential to be a very special player in the recruiting process,” Harrold wrote in an email to The S&B.

Coming off a season as the Midwest Conference leading scorer, Morrissey has had a dream start to her final campaign. Even though it’s still based on a small sample size, her field goal percentage and average rebounds have already exceeded previous years. Morrissey is undoubtedly a valuable asset to the team.

“Kayla is an extremely important piece of our program. She embodies what it means to be a great student and a great athlete. … Good players don’t become great by accident and Kayla’s success are due to the work she has put in,” Harrold wrote.

Even with all the hype around her achievement, Morrissey never loses track of the one and only goal — winning.

“It’s a cool thing to have accomplished in my senior year, … but it doesn’t really matter much on the grand scheme of things because we haven’t played conference games. I’m obviously not satisfied right now so I want to continue to push myself and do what I can to help my team win games,” Morrissey said.

With the first Midwest Conference match away at Beloit College this Friday, the stakes can only get higher for both men’s and women’s basketball. Fortunately for them, each team has a 1000-point-scorer to rely on.