Kuczenski goes out a champion at Eastern

Brandon Kuczenski, of Naugatuck, scored 318 points and hauled in 300 rebounds in four seasons at Eastern Connecticut State University. The team won the Little East Conference regular season championship the last four years and the conference tournament championship this season. –CONTRIBUTED

When former Naugatuck big man Brandon Kuczenski was on the court for the Greyhounds good things happened.

Playing as a captain for Naugy, the 6-foot-5-inch 240-pound Kuczenski, a two-time All-NVL selection and a 1,000-point scorer, led the team to back-to-back postseason appearances.

In 2013, Kuczenski joined the ranks of the Eastern Connecticut State University men’s basketball team. Over the next four years, the Warriors finished the regular season as Little East Conference champions each year.

Four years in college and four years as regular season champions, so it was only fitting that in his final year the Warriors also won the Little East postseason tournament, defeating two-time champion Keene State, 72-70.

“That was amazing to go out as tournament champions in my senior year,” Kuczenski said. “I have accomplished a lot at the collegiate level and I’m proud to have been a member of such a great program.

“Playing four years with fellow seniors Hugh Lindo and David Canny, who were like brothers to me, was a special time in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything in the world.”

Kuczenski quickly made his mark when he broke onto the college season, starting in 19 of the 29 games played, scoring 101 points and pulling down 90 rebounds. He finished second on the team with a 52.6 shooting percentage.

“Brandon had a way of making everyone around him play that much better,” Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson said. “He had a great career at Eastern and as a former player myself I know the amount of work that went into that.

“At Naugatuck he was a leader and helped turn us into a postseason team. I’m not surprised at the success he’s had at the collegiate level.”

As a sophomore, Kuczenski started in just six of 22 games but went on to post career-highs in points in a game (11) and rebounds in a game (9). For the second year in a row Eastern made the NCAA Division III tournament, losing in the first round after reaching the round of 32 the year before.

In his junior year, Kuczenski started in 26 of 27 games played, scored 83 points to go along with 91 rebounds. The Warriors finished 18-9 and missed the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time in three seasons.

Kuczenski had career highs in assists (5), steals (3) and blocks (3), but to the big man, who was sometimes called ‘The Beast,’ it was about much more than piling up stats. It was about going out there and giving it everything he had when called upon.

“In high school I had to be the man,” Kuczenski said. “I had to be the go-to guy in scoring. At Eastern there were so many good athletes all I had to do was go out and be part of the team.

“It didn’t matter to me if I was starting or coming off the bench. As long as we were succeeding it was all good to me. Some games I would play 20 minutes other games I would play 10 minutes, and it was all about accepting your role and be a team player.”

This season, Eastern (21-9) returned to the NCAA Division III tournament. The Warriors defeated MIT in the first round before falling to Susquehanna, 72-67, in the second round.

In four years, Kuczenski put up 318 points and hauled in 300 rebounds. He started in 50 of 111 games played at Eastern, which compiled a 84-31 record under head coach Bill Geitner.

“I’ve had a great four years here playing basketball with some great teammates and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world,” Kuczenski said. “I have been fortunate to have had great coaches in my career and tremendous family support. My parents have been there for me every step of the way and have taught me values that helped me to accomplish all that I have.”

So, what’s next for the big man?

“I will still play in rec leagues but want to start focusing on a career in law enforcement once I graduate,” he said. “And maybe somewhere down the road coach the kids once I start a family of my own.”