"It's a different sport," Palazzo said. "What we teach in Europe is all about legs. Water polo is legs. If you don't have that base of legs, it's like another sport. It's like you play basketball, but you cannot jump, you cannot use your legs. You can see the school [Cupido has] had, it's completely different than here."
It's at least partially about creativity as well, thinking outside of the box. The penalty shot lob against top-ranked Mater Dei was a prime example, and Cupido unleashed a wild celebration after he scored it.
Cupido said he only turned to the lob shot because some Monarchs players were provoking him before that. After the lob went past 6-foot-9 Mater Dei senior goalie McQuin Baron and the ensuing celebration, Mater Dei's Matt Payne pointed at the scoreboard.
Any trash talk aside, Mater Dei Coach Chris Segesman called the shot "a brilliant idea" after the match. The computer in the Sailors' team room now has that video on it.
"If you don't try, you'll always be one of the many," Cupido said. "If you always do the same things, no one will see you ... It's fun to do something different. It's a sport, you need to win, but I think you need to have fun also."
One thing is for sure. People definitely are having fun watching Luca Cupido play water polo this fall.
"He always does the unexpected," Newport senior girls' water polo player Christina O'Beck said. "He does these crazy shots with three people on top of him, and it still goes in the goal. The things he does, you're speechless at first. You're taking it all in."
Born: Nov. 9, 1995
Hometown: Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy
Weight: 198 pounds
Sport: Water polo
Coach: Robert Lynn
Favorite food: Pasta al pesto
Favorite movie: "Gladiator"
Favorite athletic moment: Scoring four goals in the final to help Italy win gold at the FINA Youth World Championships last December in Australia.
Week in review: Cupido had three goals and four steals to help Newport Harbor defeat rival Corona del Mar, 10-8, in the Battle of the Bay on Oct. 5. He also had four goals in a 9-7 win over Loyola two days earlier.