Friday, March 6, 2015

Elev8 Guard Takes Leadership Role Out Of The Woods

First Matt Woods pulled off a nifty cross over, carving his way into an open lane and depositing a lefty layup.

 Capitalizing on the opportune timing, Woods' move gave Elev8 Black a sudden momentum head rush and 62-58 halftime edge.

In the second half, the 6-foot-2 point guard whipped a one-handed pass to Brandon Simmons for a traditional three-point play.

With the pressure steadily mounting and his focus intensifying, Woods bucketed an 18-foot corner jumper.

Nine seconds later he took a steal three-quarters of the court, drawing an at-the-rim foul on a left-handed surge.

Woods knocked back both free throws, knotting matters at 80-all.

Ultimately it was not enough.

 Defensive lapses and a few untimely turnovers plagued them in a 90-86 loss to Coastal Academy Grey.

 Woods finished with 16 points, five assists, and four steals. He had his fingerprints on every magnified possession.

It was purely a dizzying battle throughout, with lead changes, spurts, and plenty of counterpunching.

 Elev8 Black/Coastal Academy Grey had less talent, yet the matchup had the most entertainment value of a blowout-filled Thursday afternoon at the Aquatic Complex in Palm Beach Gardens.

The biggest thorn in Elev8's side was put there by Martin Jones' shooting hand.

Jones had 19 points on the strength of five long treys, firing in from near NBA range in the first half.

 Matt McMorris had 23 points, scoring in a variety of ways from pull-ups to baseline drives.

Simmons, a stretch four type, paced Elev8 with 22 points (9-for-11 FT). Imposing in the  paint, Simmons erupted following a quiet first half.

There's no question Woods needs a touch--if not every possession, as many possessions as possible--to align the wheels of Brett Newman's offense.

In entrusting both Woods and three-point specialist Cody Kelley with back court leadership, Newman gives each a jumbo green light.

 Kelley, a country boy out of Wyoming, had four 3-pointers in Thursday's loss.

The communication between Newman and Woods, who possesses the high-moral fabric and beyond-the-years maturity you can liken to an Eagle Scout, is pivotal.

Yet their relationship is rooted beyond that.

Newman coached Woods' older brother, Mike Woods Jr., as an assistant under Pat Esteep at Division-II Cedarville (Ohio).

The squad, immediately adapting to a new stage following years in the NAIA, won the school's first-ever NCCAA Championship in 2012.

A long 6-foot-3 combo guard, Woods Jr. and Cedarville obliterated teams by an average of 18 PPG in the post-season.

Matt Woods' familiarity with Newman helped bring him to Delray Beach, Fla. from North Carolina.

 He averaged 19 points at Asheville Christian Academy last season.

Newman, who played for the U.S. military all-stars, always holds his point guard to a high standard.

Tough and confrontational on arguably the team's most important influence with the ball, Newman preaches leadership values.

 Dictating a game defensively. Being a vocal leader which teammates eat off of. These are the essentials of the role.

Raised in a faith-first family, Woods relishes the structure and accountability because it took his play up the pegs in high school.

 After all, it's nothing new to him.

Unrelenting guidance from his father, Mike Woods Sr., taught him the value of player/coach relationship.

 The former East Tennessee State guard, Mike Woods Sr. has nurtured his son's development while emphasizing the power of a high hoops IQ.

At Elev8's campus, an enclave of signed or scholarship-hungry student-athletes, players needn't conceal their pride or competitiveness.

Thus, those who set off that an inner toughness from Woods are the same cats with which he shares the breakfast table: Elev8's top-tier Red team.

There's a considerable talent drop-off from Elev8 Black to Elev8 Red.

Elev8 Red's roaster is soaked with Division-I talent, underscored by Kobie Eubanks (UCLA, Missouri, Texas, Oregon, UCLA), high-rising Jamal Gregory (VCU, Maryland, South Florida among others expressing interest), J.T. Escobar (headed to Ole Miss), Caleb Tanner (Radford-signee), Leroy Butts (Rhode Island-signee), Yankuba Sima (Maryland, Arizona, Louisville in pursuit), Shane Eberle (committed to Columbia).

Every time Woods' Black team goes against the more-hyped and clearly more recruit rich Red team, he's eyeballing an upset worth mega in-house bragging rights.

Newman could talk all day about Woods being your typical "safe bet" recruit.

On his assessment of Woods' next level placement, it's a bit different.  Newman is swift, clear, to the point.

"He is," said Newman, "A Division-I player."

Woods On His Role

Basically, I'm tasked with being a leader. As a point guard, you have to know the offense and to get your team going. You have to put your teammates in the best position to score. You really have to be a floor general and see the game like a coach. In addition to knowing all five positions on the court, you have to bring the energy both offensively and defensively and set a tone.

On The System

Coach Brett is really big on consistency, so he emphasizes that in practice. He's big on bringing more and more energy every day. Since high school, that's one thing that has kind of stuck with me. I'll ask myself, "How can I get better each day?" Trusting the system is really the most important thing. We've all bought into that.

On His Scoring

It's really a mixture of both my shots and being able to attack. My mid-range game I think is the best part of my game. In this era, you don't see a lot of mid-range because everyone wants to shoot the three. It is kind of a lost art. I think I can do my part and help bring it back.

On Goals, Expectations, and Focus

We're such an unselfish team and that's something we really thrive off. I honestly think we're the most unselfish team here at Elev8. It benefits us. I've never been the guy to want to get my shots all the time, I like just as well and it fits with our focus.

Really our goals and expectations are to be the best team and leave here without any regrets. We ask each other this question all the time, "What would we play like if there was a million bucks on the line? That's something we learned from Brett.