If the matchup comes to fruition, each player will be ready.
After all, Joe Cremo and David Nichols had years together to prepare for it as University at Albany men’s basketball teammates, backcourt partners and roommates. Now, Cremo is at Villanova and Nichols is at Florida State, and it’s possible the former Great Danes could compete against each other in the Advocare Invitational in Florida that starts Thursday.
“It will be fun if it happens,” said Nichols, whose team could play Cremo’s in a tournament championship or consolation game on Sunday. “It’ll be just like playing pickup or like back in practice. We’re both high-level competitors and like to win. We played against each other the last three years, really, so it would be just like old times.”
“We used to guard each other all the time,” said Cremo, who led Scotia-Glenville High School to a pair of Class A state championships before starring at UAlbany.
For two seasons, Cremo and Nichols formed a backcourt that America East coaches often described as the conference’s best. Both players, though, left the UAlbany program as graduate transfers during the offseason, with Cremo ending up in the Big East Conference and Nichols in the ACC.
For the defending national champions, Cremo — who recently suffered a facial injury and has competed wearing a protective mask — has started one game and averaged 7.3 points in 22.3 minutes per game through Villanova’s 2-2 start to the season. In Florida State’s 3-0 start, Nichols has averaged 14.3 minutes and 2.3 points per game as a reserve.
Both players said they have enjoyed starting fresh with a new program.
“The coaching staff has made [the adjustment] easy on me,” Cremo said. “Obviously, it’s really intense in practice, it’s a whole new level, but the transition has gone well and my teammates have been great.”
“It’s just been an adjustment learning a new system, offensively and defensively,” Nichols said. “Getting to know my teammates and my coaches. Just learning to play with different combinations of guys on the floor.”
Cremo and Nichols each said they have stayed in touch on a daily basis through text messaging since leaving UAlbany. The pair said they’re still in touch, too, with players on the UAlbany team, including several of the program’s new players that didn’t play with Cremo and Nichols last season.
“And I’m rooting for all of them,” Nichols said.
Most days, too, Nichols roots for Cremo at Villanova and Cremo roots for Nichols at Florida State. If their teams play this weekend, though, that will take a short break.
“Anytime you can go out there and compete, you take that opportunity,” Cremo said. “We’re great friends off the court, but I’m sure when we’d be on the court it would be a little bit different.”