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Freshman Nate Santos Feeling More Comfortable After Starting First Four Career Games

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Coming into the season, Nate Santos did not expect himself to play almost 30 minutes a game during his freshman season.

But through four games, he has done just that, averaging 29.5 minutes per game and starting each one.

“It’s definitely been crazy,” Santos said on Monday. “It’s not what I would have imagined my freshman year, my first couple of games to be. But everybody has been a great help with trying to get me adjusted and stuff like that. So, just trying to work hard in practice and just get better every day.”

After starting the season with two games of five points each, he has responded in the last two with six points and 14 points, a career high, against Towson. After that outburst against Towson, Santos, a native of Geneva, Illinois, is now scoring an average of 7.5 points per game, good for fourth on the team.

“For him, he’s done a really good job, and I think he’s gotten better and better each game,” Capel continued. “His stuff has jumped off the screen too, from that game. I thought it was the best defensive game that he’s played, and I thought it was the best job that he’s done being physical. What I mean by that is, he smashed down on block-outs in that game. Something that we have really been on him about, that he really hadn’t done in the first three games. He did a really good job of smashing down on bigger guys and getting down there, rebounding the basketball, putting his body on people and blocking out. So, again, the thing you want to see is just progress, and I think he’s done a really nice job each game of getting a little bit better.”

“I would say I am definitely in a way better place of comfortability,” Santos said. “My teammates, my coaches have been great helping me out with stuff like that. So, definitely way more comfortable.”

Santos is the lone freshman on a squad full of transfers, but is actually older than a few of the sophomores on the team. Although he is not the youngest on the team by age, he has looked up to the rest of the guys and learned a lot from them so far.

“A lot of the guys on the team do,” Santos said when asked who pushes him to improve the most. “The older guys. JB definitely pushes me a lot. Femi definitely pushes me a lot. The coaching staff definitely does. So, everybody is pretty helpful.”

“He has been overwhelmed at times, but I think he’s grown from those experiences,” said Jeff Capel. “He’s been thrust into this position that, I’m not saying he wasn’t ready for, but it’s different than what we thought it would be and maybe even he thought it was going to be. We knew he would play, but playing the amount of minutes, starting, it’s different from the role that we thought he would have.”

Capel has not been afraid to keep Santos on the floor in big moments, especially against West Virginia and its raucous crowd in Morgantown. Santos played 34 minutes in that contest, going 2 for 5 from the field and finishing with five points.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker

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