Monarch Insider No. 18- Nick wright- Energy Guy
Jan. 23, 2011
Brendan O'Hallarn Monarch Basketball Insider
Every player who comes to Old Dominion to play basketball was a star in high school. But there are only five players on the court at once. And the quality of players ODU attracts means some younger players will see less court time than they're used to. The key, Coach Blaine Taylor says, is to make the most of the minutes you get.
And that's a role Nick Wright has grown into nicely this season.
"Nick is someone who, later in his career, is going to play quite a lot. But at this point, he's kind of a spot sub," Taylor said. "His role is to come in and give us some energy, give us some minutes. Maybe rest (center) Frank (Hassell) for a little bit. Maybe it's before a media timeout. Maybe it's a strategic defensive situation we think Nick fits into."
The key word in Taylor's statement? Energy. That's something the gangly forward from Suffolk has brought to ODU basketball from the moment he stepped on campus his redshirt season three years ago.
"I've got a lot of energy. I just like to see everybody happy and upbeat. I feel like it's dull when everyone's quiet. That's just not my style. I make sure I try to keep a smile on everybody's face," Wright said.
When he hits the court, sometimes for only a minute or so in a stretch, Wright is an arm-flapping, perpetual motion machine.
"If I'm not on the floor hyped like that, I'd be on the bench doing the same thing -- trying to get fired up." And lately, his scarce minutes have yielded some very positive results. He came into Wednesday's tight win over James Madison with four minutes left in the first half. The very first time down the court on defense, he slid over and took a charge on burly JMU forward Rayshawn Goins.
Then Saturday, in ODU's agonizing loss to VCU, Wright subbed in at the 11-minute mark. A minute later he grabbed an offensive rebound and bounced up for an emphatic, two-handed dunk. The roof came off the Ted.
"Early, he was trying to do too much, because he was hoping to make a whole bunch of stuff happen, and most of it wasn't good. Now, he's got a much better perspective on what his role is," Taylor said.
"I think he's played within himself, and because of that, he's all of a sudden been able to make some shot-in-the-arm plays ... be it an offensive rebound, or blocking a shot, or a defensive rotation. Sometimes he does some things that don't show up on the stat sheet."
If that's his role, he'll embrace it, Wright said. "You have to know what you've got to do, to do whatever you can to make you and your team look better. If that's what I've gotta do for us to win, that's what I'll do."
In writing about the Monarchs for almost two seasons, I've noticed that they're generally a pretty soft-spoken bunch. Players like Marquel De Lancey, Chris Cooper and Trian Iliadis are quiet and industrious, and the coaching staff has had to encourage them to be more vocal.
That has never been the problem with Nick Wright.
"With Nick, he's kind of a bubbly guy, and sometimes you've got to pop the bubbles," Taylor said. "He's an upbeat kid, and that's one of the things I like about him. He's got a lot of energy and personality. But when he hits the court, you've got to have concentration and focus, and I think he's maturing in that respect."
Wright wouldn't trade being a Monarch for anything. "It's everything any basketball player would want. At home with a great program, great alumni who can talk to you like you're family. You've got family right around the corner. You've got great fans," Wright said.
Not that he needs it, but Wright said playing in front of the ODU faithful gives him even more energy. "When we travel, we go into other arenas and the joint will be dead. I'm happy to be in an arena with a sold out crowd almost every game. It's great to be a Monarch."
Brendan O'Hallarn, an employee in public relations at Old Dominion University, writes Monarch Basketball Insider. To see other stories, please see the Monarch Insider website, at http://www.odusports.com/ot/monarch-insider.html. If you would like to share your thoughts about ODU basketball, or have a story you'd like to see Brendan write, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.