Jonathan Adams The
Jan. 14, 2009
'Senator' as ODU's only senior, his stature has earned him the nickname
The Senator from Georgia had the floor. And the ball.
The light-blue squad, manned by several of Old Dominion's least-experienced basketball players, had lost its way on offense at a recent practice. Some players weren't where they were supposed to be. It was unclear if they even knew which play was being run.
In stepped senior Jonathan Adams, aka The Senator, not just the only graybeard on the light-blue squad, but the only one on the entire ODU team. Adams caught the ball at the top of the key, got everyone organized and re-started the offense.
"Good job, Jonathan," assistant coach John Richardson called from the opposite end of the court.
A small moment, but one that illustrates one of the roles Adams is taking on for a young team trying to find its way. The Monarchs have dropped two straight heading into their home game against Georgia State tonight.
On a roster brimming with freshmen and sophomores, and featuring just two juniors, the "SR" next to Adams' name stands out. Don't think his teammates let him forget it.
"Anything having to do with something being old is liable to be a nickname for me," he said.
The Senator is the one that stuck. It refers to Adams' friendly personality, as well as his performance in the classroom. A psychology major with a double minor in criminal justice and sports management, Adams was the Colonial Athletic Association Scholar Athlete of the Year for basketball in 2006-07.
"It seems like I know a lot of people and I'm always talking to somebody," he said, explaining how he got the name. "It doesn't take much to say hi to someone."
ODU coach Blaine Taylor calls the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Adams a "man for all seasons." It describes him both on and off the floor.
Adams is a blender whom Taylor can sub in for anyone on the court. He's the piece that makes different lineups fit.
"He's an experienced and versatile player," Taylor said. "He's not going to tear up the stat sheet, but he's pretty steady.
"He's a solid defender, a pretty good rebounder and he knows our system. With the youth of our roster, it's nice to walk into a huddle and have someone who knows what's going on."
Adams has come 180 degrees from three years ago, when he arrived from Ringgold, Ga., as the only freshman on a team dominated by upperclassmen. He learned something from all of them, but he recalls Drew Williamson as a particularly steadying influence.
"He just had a calming presence," Adams said. "Up 20, down 20, up five, down one, it was always the same demeanor."
Adams strives to be the same way. Point guard Darius James said he succeeds.
"No matter what kind of game he's having, he's always picking everybody else up," James said. "He's been through it, you know?"
Experiencing three full CAA seasons has given Adams some perspective on ODU's 2-3 league start. The Senator's message? It's a long campaign. He remembers Delaware, for example, getting off to a hot start last year only to fade late.
"It's a grind," Adams said. "You just steal the ones that you can and battle for the rest of them. We've been in every game that we've lost. We've just got to find a way to make one more play than them."
Georgia State did just that in a 55-54 win over ODU just 10 days ago. An unbalanced CAA schedule gives the Monarchs a chance to avenge that defeat in a hurry. Needless to say, it's fresh in their minds, James said.
Also front and center, Taylor hopes, is the need to not look too far ahead or behind. Worry about losing ground in the bigger picture of the CAA race and you just might.
"For us, we're trying to just simplify the world a little bit, and say, hey, this is one game," Taylor said.
Adams is on board with that. His message for his teammates is to calm down and be confident. He knows young players can have 55 things going through their minds at once, but says it's a matter of learning a role and doing it.
His is to defend and rebound, he says. Scoring is a bonus. His game-winning 3-pointer against Charlotte in this season's opener certainly was. And his 12 points and seven rebounds against George Mason on Saturday helped keep ODU close.
Being a sounding board and booster for younger teammates is also part of the package. It should also help in his post-basketball career. Despite his nickname, Adams has no interest in politics.
"I want to be a juvenile counselor," he said.
He's getting a head start this season.
Ed Miller, (757) 446-2372, firstname.lastname@example.org