Lakers point guard leads on and off the court
BY Luke Eggleston
SUN Staff writer
Oswego — Throughout his career as an Oswego State men’s basketball player, point guard Nick Perioli has been one of the program’s pillars. So when the Lakers lost the Liverpool native last year due to a serious knee injury, they struggled, going 17-13. This season, Oswego State started out 4-0. As of last Friday, the Lakers were one of the most offensively potent teams in the SUNYAC, averaging nearly 80 points per game. For his part, Perioli, whose home parish is Immaculate Heart of Mary in Liverpool, was second in the conference in assists per game, averaging nearly six per game; first in steals with 2.56 per game and second in turnover-to-assist ration with 2.89 (many consider that the most important statistic for a point guard).
An Oswego native and a parishioner at St. Mary’s, Lakers coach Kevin Broderick marvels at Perioli’s impact on the game. The Lakers’ veteran coach played basketball at Bishop Cunningham High School and also Oswego State. A former point guard, the coach knows a good player when he sees one.
Broderick praised his senior guard following the Lakers’ 79-73 comeback victory over conference rival Oneonta State Jan. 12.
“I just can’t imagine there’s players around that play that position better than he does. I don’t see it. I never see it. He takes care of the ball, he makes shots, he plays defense,” the coach said. “He played 40 minutes tonight – which is so unusual – but I never think about taking him out. He doesn’t ever lose his control or his poise. He’s a great, great player. We expect that in a close game he’s going to have a great second half and he does every time.”
Perioli’s performance against the Red Dragons is emblematic of his career. He finished the game tied with teammate Tommy Downing as the two scored 23 point to lead the Lakers. He also had six assists to just one turnover and even snared a critical rebound in the last 30 seconds of the game. The following Monday, Perioli was selected as the conference player of the week.
The point guard noted that he is always willing to do whatever the team needs him to do to win.
“It goes by the team. Sometimes teams take me away and I have to do other things. Help rebound or dish more. Tonight just happened to be one of those game where I had to step it up on offense,” he said.
But for all of Perioli’s accolades with the ball in his hands, Broderick said that it’s his leadership and charisma off the court that makes him a great player.
“As terrific a player as he is, and I think we have the best point guard in the country, I just believe that,” Broderick said. “The thing we missed most when he got hurt last year is that he’s a guy that solidifies the team. Every guy on the team likes and respects him. And last year, we missed his great point-guard play, we missed all of his on the court stuff, but we missed him off the court even more.”
Perioli said sitting out last year with his knee injury was difficult. But it also inspired him to come back better than ever for his senior season.
“Last year was rough sitting there with an ACL injury and last year I was upset that I couldn’t play with those seniors,” said Perioli. “This year that makes it just that much more special and that much more important to me because obviously this is the last time I will be out there.”
Perioli’s ability was evident early on in his collegiate career. Before he had even played in a college game, he won the point-guard position.
“He’s 10 times the player I was. He came here extremely fundamental,” Broderick said. “My first practice, he basically won our point guard job, which is so unusual. He was just so fundamental.”
Broderick attributed Perioli’s immediate success to the excellent tutelage he received from Liverpool High School coach Chris Wilcox.
“Chris Wilcox had him so ready for college and then he’s just continued to get better. He’s just so unusual,” Broderick said.
Ordinarily, an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is one of the most difficult setbacks an athlete can suffer. Broderick said, however, that in Perioli’s he was never concerned.
“When he tore his ACL last year, you know you always worry about players bouncing back,” the coach said. “I really didn’t worry about him because he’s been off the charts fitness-wise and getting his body ready to play. I forget that he had a torn ACL last year because we never think about. He doesn’t play anything like a guy who missed a year.”
Perioli selected Oswego State because he wanted to continue his baseball career as well as his career on the hardcourt.
“They worked with me and said that I would be able to play both sports so that was a big reason why I came here,” he said.
The Oswego State senior regularly attends Mass at the Neumann Center when school is in session. He said that his religion remains an important part of his life despite the rigors of school and athletics.
“I go to Mass and I try to keep my faith in the decisions I make and in the way I live my life,” Perioli said. “I may not know exactly everything about the faith but I follow it the best I can. My parents are very religious and I have a very religious family and I just try to follow them and learn from them as well.”