Q&A With Navy Basketball’s Brandon Venturini ’15
When Navy guard Brandon Venturini ’15 came to Annapolis in 2011, he had no idea if a basketball future awaited him. The school had hired a new coach in Ed DeChellis, who was picking up the pieces of a tattered program. One piece that stuck around was a walk-on from Allendale, MI, who had a good feel for the game, not to mention a fearless streak and a nice outside shooting touch he showed as a two-time team MVP at Allendale High School, where Venturini was an all-state honoree as a senior. For the past two seasons, Venturini has started every game as Navy’s top scoring option in the backcourt. The morning after the Midshipmen suffered an overtime loss at Loyola on January 2, Venturini spoke with writer Gary Lambrecht. Two days later, Venturini carried Navy to a 79-71 victory against Lafayette by scoring a career-high 28 points with eight three-pointers. That improved the Mids’ record to 6-7 overall, 1-1 in Patriot League play.
Q: When you lose a game the way you dropped that decision at Loyola, does it ruin your sleep?
A: When you play well for almost the whole game and lose, it just crushes you and leaves a really bitter taste in your mouth. You don’t forget about those kinds of games easily. We’ve got to work on finishing games like that.
Q: When you joined the team as a plebe, Coach Ed DeChellis had taken over a major rebuilding project. How humbling has that experience been for you as a competitor?
A: It’s not as easy to turn things around as it might be at a regular school, where you can really focus on sports. Academic and military responsibilities are a pretty big deal around here.
Q: Would you care to reflect on that first season? What was it like to go through an entire year by winning only three games?
A: I made the team as a walk-on and I didn’t have much of a role that year. That was a long season. I’ve never been through a season like that in anything. It was pretty hard to sit on the bench and watch that. It certainly pushes you to not allow anything like that ever to happen again.
Q: What’s it like playing for Coach DeChellis?
A: He’s pretty intense. He has a real passion for the game and doing things the right way. He doesn’t accept anything less than a hundred percent effort. He’s honest with us. You know where you stand with him.
Q: Once your older brother [Aaron, Class of 2009] decided to come to the Naval Academy, were you on the fast track to Annapolis?
A: I didn’t even know about this place until a recruiter came to talk to Aaron about it. He came here because he wanted to be a pilot, and I looked up to Aaron when I was growing up. As soon as he was accepted by the Academy, I had it in my mind that I wanted to come here.
Q: Does your family’s association with the military extend beyond the two of you?
A: My sister, Lauren, who is 24, is a Lieutenant in the Air Force. I’m part Chilean, and my grandpa went to the Chilean Naval Academy. He eventually became a Captain.
Q: Do you intend to follow in Aaron’s footsteps by becoming a pilot?
A: I did want to be a pilot. But unfortunately, it turns out that I’m pretty colorblind. That means I’m probably going to end up working in the intelligence area.
Q: What are some of your fondest memories of Allendale?
A: Where I lived was in a pretty good spot. In the winter, we were close to resorts for skiing and snowboarding. In the summertime, we could get to some nice beaches [along Lake Michigan] pretty easily. Chicago wasn’t that far away. When I get back home to visit, one thing I’ve got to do with my friends is hang out at the Steak & Shake after seeing a late movie. It’s open for 24 hours. The banana chocolate shake is a must.
Q: As we swing into what looks like an unusually cold, snowy winter in these parts, what do you think of the way the white stuff is received around here?
A: People are so much more cautious around snow here and in the South. They react to it differently with the way they drive in it and the way that schools close when a little snow falls. Where I grew up, we get a foot of snow and nothing changes. Schools don’t close. I’ve seen a lot of snow in my life.