For Niskayuna High School graduate John-Michael Fragnoli, the term student comes first in the student-athlete formula for a very good reason.
But he loved his basketball, too.
Fragnoli recently played his final game at Wentworth Institute of Technology, and unfortunately, it was not one he wants to remember. Endicott defeated Wentworth, 90-60, in the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament championship game.
“It happened so quickly. You don’t think about it [his final game] while you’re playing, and it wasn’t fun to think about it before the game. Right now, my thoughts are specifically on the championship game, because it was a tough one to play in. To lose by such a substantial amount in the championship game is tough to swallow in itself.
“But the fact that I won’t be playing any more organized basketball with the same intensity that I have for the last eight years in a row is very sad. It hasn’t set in yet.”
Fragnoli, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound frontcourt player, was basically a power forward at Wentworth after playing center for the Niskayuna Silver Warriors.
“I played two years of varsity at Niskayuna, but I was much more defense-oriented back then, and I rarely scored the ball,” he said. “I was more of a center back then, and now I’m more of a power forward, I guess.”
But Fragnoli’s offense really blossomed in college. This year, he was Wentworth’s leading scorer at 14 points per game. Nobody else on the team averaged more than seven points a game. He was also the second-leading rebounder at a 5.6 rebounds per outing.
“With my build, I’m not a bruiser,” Fragnoli said with a chuckle. “But I ended up driving to the basket more on offense. I have a pretty good mid-range jump shot, which is something I’ve worked on as much as I possibly can. I’ve also relied on some post moves that I’ve been working on since high school. I was always taller than most kids back then, so it was a good idea to have some post moves.
“My game at Wentworth is anywhere from mid-range down into the post. We use the screen and roll and read everything off of that. That’s basically our whole offense.”
But as well as Fragnoli played offensively — he shot 54.5 percent from the floor — it was his defense that he’s most proud of.
“Defense has always been the biggest thing for me, and the team,” he said. “That was our goal, to be the best defensive team in the conference. We were ranked nationally.”
Fragnoli, who majored in mechanical engineering technology after switching from construction engineering, has a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5. He was named the CCC Scholar Athlete of the Year and was also initiated into the Tri Alpha Sigma honor society for engineers who excel in the classroom and athletically. He was also named to the all-conference first team.
“It’s nice to have an education that is something to fall back on,” he said. “I’m still not sure what I want to do with my mechanical engineering degree, but it’s something that has intrigued me. It’s a very broad type of engineering, but it keeps me interested, and I enjoy it.”
Interestingly, it was Fragnoli’s original major, construction engineering, that prompted him to choose Wentworth.
“When I first looked at it, Wentworth was the only school in the Northeast that had construction engineering as a major and also had Division III basketball,” he said. “I looked at places like Roger Williams and RIT, but once I visited Boston, it won me over. It kind of reminds me of Schenectady in that there aren’t too many high-rise buildings unless you are in the financial district or downtown. There is a residential feel to it, especially where Wentworth is located. I really love Boston.”
Fragnoli said this year’s Wentworth team (14-14 overall) was loaded with younger players who didn’t pick up the offense until late in the season.
“We played well, but it took until the end of the season for our offense to click,” he said. “So I would say that in terms of success, this year’s team was near the best one that I played on. But I also liked my freshman year at Wentworth. We had a really good team that year.”
Categories: College Sports