Woodward Brings The Bulldogs’ Toughness And Grit

first_img“We want guys that are serious about their academics, good basketball players, but also guys that have high character, and that’s Graham,” Rutter said. “He is an excellent student; he is a two-way player and a guy you want to be in the trenches with.” “He plays point for us, but he has seen some time at the two,” Rutter said. “Whether he is playing the point or playing off, we want him to be a pass, dribble, shoot guy. We want him to be a complete player and have that balance of distributing and facilitating while still getting his own when it’s there.” “There’s a lot of things that stand out about him, one is his toughness,” head coach Jeff Rutter said. “He is as tough as anyone we have on our basketball team and is certainly one of our best perimeter defenders.” His toughness is just one aspect of what makes him a ‘Drake Guy,’ as Rutter calls him.                  Watching Woodward play, the toughness in his game can’t be overlooked. He is very gritty and his play is scrappy and tough according to coach Rutter. Rutter also praised Woodward for always sticking his nose in the action by fighting and diving for a loose ball or taking on a challenge. Woodward stresses the importance of reminding his team that each game they play is a treat and to enjoy them while they last. “I think it goes with the stature,” Woodward said. “I don’t pass the eye test as a basketball player, but that’s not going to stop me as a player. Ultimately, guys are taller and stronger, but as a younger kid, playing with taller and bigger people, it was all about being a Bulldog. It’s something that has been a part of me and instilled in me by my parents, and I take pride in being a really feisty defender and guard as well. ” “As a team, we continue to figure out ways to get wins and how each game brings new opportunities,” Woodward said. “We learn from each game we play that there are different ways to win and they don’t always go as you planned. But, we will continue to fight.” Print Friendly Version Transferring from Penn State in 2014, Woodward sat out of his first season due to NCAA rules, but once he was able to take to the court, it was apparent the type player the Bulldogs had brought on board. During the 2015-2016 season, Woodward saw his first action as a Bulldog and played in all 31 games with 27 starts. He made 60 three-pointers and was second in the MVC in three-point percentage at 42 percent. Although the current season has started off a little slower, both Woodward and Rutter see good things coming down the road. When recruiting and looking for players, Rutter and the other coaching staff members look for players who exemplify the “ABCs.” A major aspect of Woodward’s play are his sacrifices made for the betterment of the team. Rutter explained how he has given up some of his scoring and shooting to be more of a facilitator and set up other guys on the team. But his tough play is one thing that will prevail. The team has seen many highs and some lows this year, but Woodward has always been a ringing voice among the team offering encouragement and reassures the team that more highs are ahead. During team huddles before, after and during games, he tries to calm the team by reminding them why they are all here. His main message is to have fun and remember that this is why they are all here, playing Division I basketball. If you ask anyone on the team or coaching staff about toughness, all fingers will most likely be pointed at redshirt junior guard, Graham Woodward. “He is the guy who steps in and takes charge. He’s fearless,” Rutter said.last_img read more