It happens before every home game. "Yo, Guzzardi, you better dunk today!"
For Mount Sinai's 6-7 center Mike Guzzardi, it isn't enough to dominate inside or for the Mustangs to win. It's all about style points for the boisterous student section.
"They love the dunks," Guzzardi said Thursday after giving the crowd something extra to cheer about in a 61-44 non-league victory over visiting Rocky Point.
Guzzardi dunked twice during a dominant second half, in which he scored 19 of his 30 points and led the Mustangs from a 27-26 halftime deficit to a pull-away victory in their season opener. But those dunks, one a take-your-time easy one on a breakaway and the other after a neat interior pass from his friend Jimmy Presser, were not the high points of Guzzardi's game. Despite the noise they generated.
No, it was the textbook low-post moves and relentless offensive rebounding that produced most of his 13 field goals. "Why not? Those are the easiest points you can get, right under your own basket," Guzzardi said. "I was trying to get the ball down low the whole game."
Rocky Point (2-1) did a good job of forcing him away from the basket in the first half. But Guzzardi scored 10 of his team's 12 points to start the third quarter, including his breakaway dunk on a pass from Greg Kopcienski (17 points), two putbacks and two power moves inside. The Eagles hung tough, even though their own big man, 6-8 Andreas Vouliakis (10 points), limped off the court with a mild ankle sprain midway through the third quarter.
Eventually, Guzzardi exploited that hole in the middle of the Rocky Point defense. He scored on a bank shot and a turnaround in the lane to start the fourth quarter. Then, after five straight points by Alex Pintabona, Guzzardi scored on another putback in the middle of a 12-0 run, and raced upcourt yelling with glee as his team built the lead to 55-39 with 3:56 left.
"I try to get as many offensive boards as I can. It's one of my main priorities," said Guzzardi, a senior who is trying to impress college scouts this season.
He already knows how to impress his buddies.