It was only two years ago that Matt Cavalieri was racking up NEWMAC Player of the Week awards in Blake Arena. The 2011 graduate accumulated a historical career in his three years on the court, collecting feats that gravitated the likes of professional talent. On Aug. 24, Cavalieri signed a professional contract with Brahe Basket in Sweden’s Division One League.
After an intense summer of training, it was quite a relief when Cavalieri received word he was headed overseas, a goal he had set after hanging up his Pride jersey.
“It felt like a great deal of weight off of my shoulders when I found out I was heading here to Sweden,” Cavalieri said. “I had been working at this goal for so long, working hard to accomplish my dream to play basketball at the professional level overseas, and when something like that finally happens, it is difficult to find words to describe it. It makes you appreciate all the hard work that you put in day in and day out, and know that it was all done for a reason. “
Despite being thousands of miles away from home, the values and principles Cavalieri learned from back in his beanie days are still prevalent in his life today. As difficult as any transition from college to the real world may be, he knows he was better off taking the long way than taking shortcuts.
“As an incoming freshman at Springfield College, you’re immediately told not to walk across the grass and cut corners, because if you do so at that time, you will start cutting corners in life,” Cavalieri said. “In order to take my basketball career overseas, there was no way I could take the easy way out and not work hard in order to get where I am today. [Without] connections through my teammates, coaches and even Springfield alum, it would have been even more difficult.”
Not only does Cavalieri have to make the transition from the collegiate level to the professional level, but also the European brand of basketball is another hoop he has to jump through. In a field that is as competitive as professional basketball, these adjustments are vital.
“The European game is more fast-paced than the American game,” said Cavalieri. “We have a 24-second shot clock as opposed to the 35-second shot clock at the college level. Needless to say, there are a decent amount of rules and changes from the European game and American game, but so far I have felt pretty good with the adjustments I have made in order to play successfully here and play to the European style.”
Cavalieri graduated with an impressive career at Springfield College. In his three seasons, Cavalieri totaled 1,117 points, which is 23rd on the all-time list in Springfield College history. In his senior year, the 6-foot-6-inch forward averaged 17.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game and was named to the 2010-2011 NEWMAC First Team All-Conference.
Encountering immigration difficulties, Cavalieri’s long-awaited debut was pushed back. He made his first appearance for Brahe Basket on Oct. 3, where he scored an impressive 26 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 72-54 victory over Helsingborg BBK.
The Springfield College native is picking up right where he left off at Blake Arena, only this time on an even bigger stage.