Injury is no stranger to fifth year senior forward Ryan Fazekas and neither is the adversity to get back up and continuing to be tough. Winning tough has been all the business he’s focused on, and his execution to deliver on his side of the bargain is what made him great on the court.
Whether it be through Providence or with Valparaiso, Fazekas has enjoyed his time on the court and enjoyed the many teams he has been around with.
“It has been great. I built a lot of relationships, had a lot of fun,” Fazekas said. “Played on a lot of different teams, different groups of guys. It has been fun, especially this year.”
Fazekas began his basketball career at Providence College. In his two seasons, he made 19 starts and scored 232 points. Among those 232 points were 56 three pointers, and had seven games where he scored double digits.
A highlight from his first year playing was a game against Brown where he scored 17 points and went 5-8 from the perimeter. The tools to his success were founded on his toughness and ability to execute.
“The first thing is toughness, especially when I was in the Big East. You had Villanova, who was Number 1, who won the national championship my freshman year,” Fazekas said. “We were the only Big East team that year to beat them, so toughness was really just a part of me. Then, just execution: every possession counts. I tried to carry over that toughness aspect, not really caring who you play, who is on the other team, who is their leading scorer. You just go out there and out tough them, execute better. It is usually a good formula for success.”
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Fazekas was unfortunately sidelined for the season. At that time, however, he was able to observe the unpredictable nature of the Missouri Valley Conference. Although no specific team really stuck out to him, the opportunity to win on any given night among the nine other teams in the Valley was what presented itself, and it is no secret that he was able to relate it back to his time in Providence.
“It really has been up and down. I feel like no one really has stuck out, except for Loyola the first year I was here. Besides that, I felt like it is a very open conference. Anyone can come in on any night and win a game,” Fazekas said. “For me personally, carrying over an everyday mentality and coming in and making sure you are executing. You take the night off, they will beat you.”
From this year’s team, Fazekas has found it to be his most enjoyable season, regardless of his wrist injury. He has said this
“This team has been especially one that is really fun to play with. I think this team is really changing the culture around Valpo basketball. I think there is a bright future for this group, so I am excited to stay in touch with them and see how they do down the road,” Fazekas said.
Although Valpo has made its name famous making comebacks from double digits, Fazekas has found that their fight and adversity on the mental level, and it being a rarity in college basketball.
“Being able to be mentally tough, then physically tough. We are not a group that gives up, there is a lot of fight in this group. To be able to have that in you is something that many teams don’t have,” Fazekas said.
To his coaches, he presents the example of a son that would make his father proud. Being able to get back up from injuries and continue fighting is what has impacted head coach Matt Lottich the most.
“When I look at Ryan, you want your sons to have that type of fight, ‘never give up’ attitude. Again, what he has had to deal with is just tough. There has not been a year in his college career that has missed significant time,” Lottich said. “But the fact that he is still able to fight five years later and is still able to go through the rehab process and get back on the floor and still be effective and still be a good teammate, those are things you want your sons to do. He set a good example.”
Off the court, Fazekas’s reputation has been second to none, whether he is hanging out with his peers or working hard with his teammates.
“He is just a great guy. He teaches the young guys, he is a great competitor. Great business man, he definitely enjoys the business side of things, and he’s also just a great friend. He has a great time with everybody and can talk to anybody. Doesn’t really stay to himself,” said senior guard John Kiser.