Article by Dominic Minicozzi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The word “impressive” may be an understatement when describing Nick Nocito’s freshman season for Ursinus College Men’s Basketball. He had a Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year 2022-2023 campaign in which he was the team’s 4th leading scorer with incredible efficiency, shooting nearly 45% from beyond the arc, 46% from the field, and 86% from the free throw line. To think that after such a spectacular first year for the Bears, Nocito’s offseason would begin with an ACL injury is disappointing to say the least.
“Yea… it’s not fun, but I’m mentally prepared for it, you know, we had a lot of talks with my trainers, my PT about not being one to complain about it because obviously, I know I’m going to have to sit out, I know I’m not gonna be ready for everything right away. So…takes a lot but right now I’m just supporting the guys as much as I can, doing what they allow me to do and staying focused on the end goal, which is just winning games late in the year,” Nocito said when asked about how his ACL injury this offseason has affected his participation in team activities.
To see such a young player display so much wisdom and hope in the face of adversity is promising for the future of Ursinus Men’s Basketball. Especially coming off a 2022-2023 season that all of the players would consider falling short of expectations despite the presence one of the best players in the school’s history, Ryan Hughes. Although Hughes’ presence on the court and in the locker-room will certainly be missed, Nocito contends that the hunger surrounding this team may be the X-Factor that sets this group of Bears apart.
“Yea man, it’s hard to replace Hughes Clues (Ryan Hughes), you know, 1600 points… it’s definitely gonna hurt us but, this team’s got a new mindset man. I think a bunch of young guys last year, besides Ryan and Ky (Kyle Maurer), we’re kind of looking forward to the season, looking to do good things and, we really have that fight in us so now we know what it means to… have failed, and we look that in the eye man, last year was a failure, so we’re a bunch of dogs man we’ve got new guys in here now, working hard. I think we’re pushing ourselves a lot more. So we’re looking to be just a grittier team and we want this work to show up in the end of games this year.”
While Nocito’s comments about the team’s dog-mentality coming off of a season they would consider to be a “failure” may ring true, there has to be some pressure on Nocito to live up to the expectations he set for himself as a rookie, correct? Nocito would beg to differ: “Nah man there’s no pressure…we’ve definitely had this talk too that it was a Rookie of the Year award, it wasn’t an all conference award, so, while I’m happy I got it, I mean it wasn’t anything, compared to the actual conference and that’s what we need. We need people to impact winning. So, I don’t feel pressure, my teammates expect me to do that, they expect me to get out there and make some threes for ‘em, so that’s what we’re working for”
Overall, despite his major injury and the pressure of living up to the expectations of his rookie season, Nocito continues to help his teammates and keep his nose to the grindstone in order to make his sophomore season one to remember.