Putting it simply, Steve Dagostino had his fill of stew. Now, it’s time for some pasta.
The former standout point guard for The College of Saint Rose, who split last season playing pro basketball in Iceland and in Hungary, has signed a contract to play for Edimes Pavia in Italy’s Lega Due league, beginning in October. He’ll leave for Italy next month, so he’ll have plenty of time to get comfortable with his new surroundings and to attend preseason camp.
“My goal has always been to play pro ball in Spain or in Italy. I want to show what I can do in pro basketball. That’s always been the plan,” said the Guilderland High School graduate and two-time Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year.
“I was in Iceland and in Hungary last year, so I know a little about culture shock. I don’t know if it can get any crazier than it was in Hungary. In Iceland, nearly everyone spoke English, but in Hungary, there was only one guy, from a U.S. junior college, who could speak English, and he was the translator.
“I was in Iceland for just a month before the whole economy collapsed, and they sent everyone home. Then, I went to Hungary to play for seven months. It was so crazy, you wouldn’t believe it. The food was unusual, because every day they had a lot of meat mixed with rice and potatoes. It was kind of like eating stew every day.
Everything was always mixed all together. But when you’re hungry, you’ll eat anything, and you’ll try anything. It wasn’t that bad.”
Dagostino showed off his ball-handling, passing and shooting skills at both destinations. In Iceland, he averaged 18 points and six assists a game during their preseason tournament season. In Hungary, he averaged 16.2 points and about 4.3 assists per game.
“In Iceland, it was easier for me, in a way, because I kind of had a lot of responsibility. I had to score more points and distribute the basketball. In Hungary, we had three other good players, so I didn’t have to do as much. I just played my own game.”
Dagostino’s long-range shooting and passing skills were quite impressive for Saint Rose, where he was a Division II consensus All-American. He was only the fifth player in Northeast-10 Conference history to win back-to-back player of the year awards, and he became the first player in CSR annals to record at least 1,500 points, 500 assists and 200 steals in a career. He graduated after the 2007-08 season.
Unlike his stints in Iceland and Hungary, Dagostino believes he will be very comfortable in Italy.
“First of all, it’s a higher-level league,” he said. “You can have two Americans, one Italian-American, and one non-Italian from another country on your roster. My mom was born in Italy and lived there for nine years, so I’ve got both an American and an Italian passport. My mom doesn’t speak much Italian unless she’s talking to my grandparents, but I can understand a little of it. I can definitely understand the language better than I can speak it.”
Edimes Pavia finished 15-15 last year, and made the Lega Due league playoffs. Dagostino can’t wait to test his skills at this higher level.
“We’ll be playing only once a week, every Sunday,” he said. “I’ll have plenty of time between a couple of practices every day to work on my game, and to see the sights. We’re only a half-hour outside Milan, and that’s a big city. I’m focused on basketball and doing well with my game. I want to keep moving up and getting better. But I don’t want to take my stay in Italy for granted. I want to take in all the sights.”
Dagostino thinks he can have a long and successful career playing pro ball in Europe.
“Right now, I’d like to stay at the level of the Italian or Spanish leagues. Then, after a few years, I’ll go on from there. It will be one year at a time. That’s what the pro basketball business is all about right now,” he said.
“I want to make the most of my opportunity. Believe me, I can live on what I’m making with my current guaranteed contract. I get to keep most of it. I don’t have to pay for an appartment, a car or anything like that. I’m making a decent wage, and I’m happy with it. If it increases next year, that will be even better. I’m making a living at playing basketball, and that’s what I wanted all along.”
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