The club men’s basketball team is off to a hot start after a strong finish to its fall semester. The spring semester is when wins and losses start to become more prevalent, because tournament finishes in this semester dictate whether or not a team in NIRSA can qualify for the national tournament at the end of the year. The national tournament is in March, at the University of Florida, if either team makes it that far.
Team Wolf began the year by going 5-0 in the MLK Tournament that the team played in, with junior forward Drew Harbour winning MVP. Unfortunately, Team Pack went 1-2 and junior guard/forward Dane Palazzo was injured in play.
“I think everyone has a good leadership role on this team,” Palazzo said after Team Pack won a tournament in UNC. “Everyone can step up when they need to and nobody is really afraid to take a position of leadership. So I think everyone contributes.”
Now, with Palazzo down for the count for the team, it will need to rely on other members of the team to step up. Among them include junior guard Pat Lloyd, junior point guard Cam Wimbish and senior forward John Tayloe, who all had strong fall semesters.
“Defense and just moral support honestly,” Palazzo said on what he and Team Pack can bring to the table. “We are like a family here and just being loud, even when you’re not in the game, just talking and communicating with everybody is a way to contribute, that’s why we won our championship [at UNC].”
Palazzo’s injury will take around three weeks to recover, as it is an MCL sprain, but he is questionable for the team’s next tournament, as opposed to being ruled out. Even with being out, Palazzo is capable of being a strong leader for the team, and is big on accountability for the team.
“I think that the people that are showing up, the people that are being an active member of the team need to continue holding those leadership positions,” Palazzo said. “To the point where we are holding each other accountable and when we lose people we need everyone to step up and fill those roles. [We need] to [be] making sure you are coming to practice, actually being a full part of this team. It is just a club sport but if you want to be good at anything you have to dedicate a certain amount of time to it.”
Palazzo has grown significantly as a player since joining the team, scoring over 30 points in a tournament last semester, displaying his athleticism and high-profile dunking ability.
“The main thing I have seen grow in my game is offense overall,” Palazzo said. “But particularly my confidence driving to the basket. I had not played in high school in a long time when I first joined the club, but playing out here everyday I am much more confident with the ball in my hands. One area I want to improve on is my shooting. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great so I want it to be great. My main strength is my athletic ability and my frame.”
Palazzo had an athletic background prior to joining the club team, standing at 6-foot-2 and running for his high school track team. Despite having not played basketball in high school outside of his JV team, Palazzo has been playing since he was 10 years old.
“Last year I was a practice player, my sophomore year,” Palazzo said. “I joined after talking to one of my friends who works at the rec center told me that the club basketball team was having tryouts and she knew that I played basketball, so she told me to come. I did not know any of the guys beforehand, I met them all through club basketball, it was kind of a blind tryout for me.”
Team Wolf and Team Pack both return to NC State in their first home tournament of the season on Feb. 8-9 inside Carmichael Arena. Entrance is free to all NC State students, and attendance would benefit the teams.