Kevin Bettencourt Takes Success in Stride
Jan. 6, 2006
By Jillian Jakuba, Bucknell Athletic Communications
When Kevin Bettencourt decided to come to Bucknell four years ago, he didn't make the choice with the expectation of knocking off top-25 teams and playing in front of sold out crowds, he just knew the school was the right fit for him.
"This was the first and only place I visited," says Bettencourt. "I came down here and fell in love with the place. My brother played at Holy Cross so I knew I was looking to play at a similar type of school. Bucknell had everything I wanted between basketball and academics."
The Bucknell men's basketball program has grown in leaps and bounds since the 2002-03 season when Bettencourt was a freshman and he has been right in the middle of the action witnessing it all. With that being said, he is the first to admit he really didn't know what his career held in store for him. He knew a new arena was coming and that the program was evolving, but he wasn't quite sure what that would all translate into.
"I remember playing in front of a few hundred fans in Davis Gym and thinking to myself that we would never be able to fill the new building," Bettencourt remembers. "I definitely got goose bumps coming out to play Villanova and hearing that crowd and seeing all the orange. We've played in some great places and to get that kind of fan support at home was just awesome. My experience here has been beyond anything I could have ever imagined."
Bettencourt wasted no time adjusting to the college game, the Peabody, Mass., native broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and has not looked back. In fact, he has started all but one game in his career, with his 96th start coming against Villanova, he was also an overwhelming choice for the 2003 Patriot League rookie of the year and sits at the top of Bucknell's career list for three-pointers . With that type of individual success, aside from the success of the team, it wouldn't be surprising if Bettencourt's ego was somewhat inflated. However, that couldn't be further from reality. The truth is, Bettencourt has remained humble. He attributes his smooth transition as a freshman to the Bison coaching staff.
"I'd have to credit the coaches for getting me acclimated to the college game so quickly. It just seemed to all make sense to me right away. I shot the ball really well during preseason my freshman year and that translated into an opportunity to start."
He also insists that he's not a player who thrives off pressure, although his resume would beg to differ. Bettencourt's first collegiate basket was a dunk against Notre Dame, he led the Bison with 19 points in the NCAA Tournament win over Kansas and made crucial free throws in wins over No. 7 Pitt and Holy Cross in the Patriot League Championship last season, just to name of few of his clutch big game performances. "I get excited to play big-name schools because it's always interesting to see how you measure up against some of the best players in college basketball," Bettencourt comments.
Bettencourt handles the team's new-found national recognition with class and poise. The attention has not changed him but that doesn't mean he doesn't appreciate it.
"It's different and fun," he remarks when asked about seeing Bucknell spotlighted in articles like the one that ran last month in USA Today. "The part I enjoy the most is getting calls from friends that I haven't heard from in a while saying `Hey I just saw your name in Sports Illustrated' or `I saw you in the highlights on SportsCenter last night'. It's cool to be watching a random college game on a Tuesday night and hearing Dick Vitale or some other broadcaster mention Bucknell during the halftime break."
But that's not what Bettencourt will miss the most about his time here as a member of the Bison when he graduates in the spring.
"I'll miss being a part of all the things that most people don't see that go on behind the scenes, like the bus trips and pregame meals. Once I leave here, there will always be opportunities to go down to the park and play basketball, but I will never be a part of a team again. This is a great group of guys we have here now and I have a lot of fun with them."
Still, it's clear he's soaking up every bit of the attention and excitement. When he's asked to pick a favorite moment out of so many memorable ones in his collegiate career, he's hard pressed to give just one answer and every recollection he makes, sounds like he's describing a game that happened yesterday.
With plenty of basketball left to play, and with opportunities for him to step up in big-game situations still on the horizon, it would be a safe to say that Bettencourt will be making many more additions to his four-year long favorite moment.