Attending a new school in an unfamiliar environment can be a struggle for many students, with the process of adjusting to new surroundings being an arduous one. That was the case for Cincinnati senior center David Nyarsuk, who arrived at the school by way of Mountain State University in West Virginia. Lacking the physical strength needed to properly deal with more physical opponents, Nyarsuk struggled in his first season as a Bearcat.
And while dealing with the on-court adjustments Nyarsuk also lost his father, who passed away after contracting malaria in their native South Sudan, before the start of the 2012-13 season. Unable to get home to bury his father or hold a memorial service with his brother in San Diego, David went through the grieving process in Cincinnati with head coach Mick Cronin and his teammates doing the best they could to help him.
Now boasting improved physical strength, Nyarsuk is approaching his senior season with a “renewed purpose” according to Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
According to UC strength coach Mike Rehfeldt, Nyarsuk actually has added 30 to 35 pounds, mostly in his upper body, and is now listed at 250. And although it still hurts that he missed the funeral, he takes solace knowing that he is doing what his father would have wanted him to do.
“It’s really hard but I feel like when I talked to my dad he actually told me to work hard, finish school and everything is going to be fine,” Nyarsuk said. “I remember what he said to me. I feel like if I do a good job here that will make him proud. If he was alive, he would want me to stay here and finish what I’m doing.”
Nyarsuk posted averages of 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season, and he won’t be expected to be a primary offensive option for the Bearcats in 2013-14. But he can help them defensively and on the boards, as the Bearcats do have to account for the departure of center Cheikh Mbodj (5.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg). With the amount of perimeter talent at Coach Cronin’s disposal it’s likely that the Bearcats look to turn up the pressure defensively, and if that’s the case they’ll need solid players to protect the basket.
Justin Jackson (1.4 blocks per game in 2012-13) is certainly an option for that role, but it wouldn’t hurt to have Nyarsuk step up and become a factor as well.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.