By Chris Hulsart
SOMETIMES in sports, a new approach is what’s needed for a team to get back on the winning track. Although there may be a rough adjusting period, flipping the script can make the difference in the long run.
This seems to be exactly what the YCP men’s basketball program has decided on. After a rough end to the 2022 season that saw the Spartans’ season end in a MAC tournament play-in game loss, coach Matt Hunter and his staff went to work to revamp the York roster and bring the team back to its old winning ways.
When it was all said and done, the Spartans came back with a new-look team. Eleven out of the fifteen men on the team are either freshmen or new transfers, something very uncommon in college basketball. They are not just filling up spots either. They are all finding ways to contribute for their new squad, with sophomore transfer Kai Cipalla along with freshmen Nick Schroeder and Jayden Rowe even starting for the green and white.
Cipalla is the team’s second-leading scorer, at 11.4 points per game (ppg), shooting over 50 percent from the floor through seven games. Rowe is averaging 8.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and Schroeder has chipped in with 3.7 ppg.
Sophomore Jackson Mascari, who played in 22 games with four starts as a freshman and averaged 6.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, leads the team in scoring with a 14.5 ppg average, accumulating those numbers during the six games he has started.
Hunter credits the returning players and the newcomers for working to build chemistry everyday, as well as a preseason trip to Canada where the team really gelled.
“We have a great group of guys – both the returners and the new guys – who got to work right away … Ultimately, everything takes time, so the more we spend together, the more we will improve.”
Cipalla, a forward, agrees. “All the new guys and the upperclassmen have the same vision. We love playing with one another already.”
Hunter is hopeful the new batch of talent comes with a shift in culture for a Spartan team that is looking for its first ever MAC title. They are 2-5 so far this season after a loss to Lebanon Valley College on Tuesday.
“This group has been excellent at competing every single day to get better,” Hunter said. “The two buzz words we use are compete and sacrifice. So we are trying to instill that in all of our guys on and off the floor. Constantly competing to improve yourself in every aspect of life and understanding that you are part of a group and need to put the program first, which ultimately teaches you to put others before yourself.”
The Spartans, who are 0-3 in the conference and have lost their last four, will try to get back on track at 6 p.m. Dec. 14 against Alvernia at Charles Wolf Gymnasium.
Chris Hulsart is a sophomore and a Sport Media major.
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