Chartiers Valley grad Matt Noszka has strong first season with Point Park
Matt Noszka knew he had a big game for the Point Park men's basketball team against Alice Lloyd early in the 2012-13 season.
The Pioneers rolled to an 118-83 win and the 2010 Chartiers Valley grad knew he had 11 rebounds. It wasn't until the post-game handshake that he knew boards were just part of his performance.
“I knew I had a bunch of rebounds,” Noszka recalled. “At the end of the game I heard them announce that I was the player of the game and that I had 32 points. It was a great feeling knowing the hard work paid off.”
The 32-point performance was just one of several big moments for Noszka during his freshman season at Point Park. The guard-forward finished fourth on the team with 12.1 points per game and third in rebounds with 6.8 per game.
Noszka started his college career at Seton Hill. He became disheartened with his lack of playing time and began looking at other NCAA Division II schools but could not find one that would allow him to redshirt and not lose a year of eligibility. His search eventually led him to the Point Park – Noszka was recruited by the Pioneers in high school– of the NAIA as he was offered a redshirt.
Noszka transferred midway through the fall semester of 2011 and had to sit out the rest of the year. While he could not compete in games, he was able to practice with the squad, allowing him to gain a familiarity with Point Park's uptempo style of play.
“We are really a run and gun type of team,” Noszka said. “We focus on scoring more than the other team. We are up and down the floor a lot. Our philosophy on defense is every team has two scorers and if we shut them down, the rest of the team will have to beat us.”
Noszka also added muscle mass during his redshirt year. Pioneers coach Bob Rager wanted him to add 10 to 15 pounds of muscle, a challenge he met as he now weighs 210 pounds – up from the 190 he transferred in at. The increase in mass was needed as Noszka plays the four-position, a role that sees him often guarded by an opponent's big man.
Noszka started his debut season with Point Park scoring 10 points in a pair of wins over Western Ontario and the University of Toronto. After his 32-point game on Nov. 21, he went on a streak of six double-digit games.
Noszka hit a midseason slump that saw him score less than 10 points in seven of 10 games. He said that he was forcing himself into trying to score instead of focusing on the little things that made the early part of the schedule so successful. Rager pulled Noszka aside and told him that everyone hits a slump and he needed to get back to the basics.
“I wasn't focused on scoring coming in,” Noszka said. “I thought my biggest attribute coming in would be on rebounding and defense. When I focused on that, the points seemed to fall into place. I was taking my knowledge from high school. Tim McConnell is such an amazing coach and he instills fundamentals into all of his players. I carried that into college.”
He was able to finish the regular season with 17 and 23 points in wins over Daemen and Cincinnati Christian, respectively.
Point Park saw its season come to a close in the opening round of the KIAC tournament as it fell to Cincinnati Christian, 87-70. The Pioneers defeated the Eagles twice during the regular season – including an 88-83 win in the season finale. It was even more painful as an injury kept Noszka on the sideline.
“I roll my ankle in the last game of the year,” Noszka said. “It happened in the first half and I played the second with no problem. Right after the tip, I barley jumped to block a shot and it buckled. It was terrible to sit there and watch a game you worked all year for.”
The Pioneers finished with a 14-11 overall record.
Point Park loses six seniors this season and the openings will give Noszka plenty of opportunities to extend his role with the team moving forward.
“I personally need to work on my ball handling during the offseason,” Noszka said. “That will take me to the next level. If I can get that down and the team can get down to basics, I think we will have a good season next year.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.