Player Spotlight: Graham Woodward

Story posted February 9, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Maddie Brightman

The Nittany Lions’ season has included ups and downs and frequent changes across all 23 matchups. Head coach Pat Chambers has tried his best to get creative with lineups and play calling, but his squad has continued to perform inconsistently. With only eight games left, Chambers and the Nittany Lions will look to continue their recent success and make a run for the National Invitation Tournament.

Penn State’s tournament hopes might just be possible, if Chambers continues to follow through with one of his strongest coaching decisions all season -- starting Graham Woodward.

The freshman guard has started four games all season and has played a huge impact on the team’s most recent success.

At Tuesday’s press conference Chambers discussed his reasoning for putting Woodward in the starting lineup.

“He earned it. He earned it in practice and he competed in practice. He never said a word and never complained. I give that kid a lot of credit.”

In the last three Penn State wins, the six-foot, 170 pound, Edina, Minnesota, native has scored a total of 16 points for the Nittany Lions. In his start against the Buckeyes, Woodward scored six points in the game’s early minutes, tying the total points he scored in full games against both Michigan and Purdue.

Woodward has played a total of 132 minutes in the Nittany Lions’ last six games against Big Ten opponents. His strongest performance came in the upset against Ohio State, where he played a total of 35 minutes, hitting at a 68% clip from the field.  Woodward has continued to prove himself to Chambers and his teammates in the team’s most recent games.

“Graham is shooting 40% from three. That makes us more difficult to defend.”

Woodward and the Nittany Lions will face Illinois, this Sunday. Woodward shared his thoughts on the team’s success with the media on Tuesday.

“We have definitely proven ourselves over the past three games. We have found success because of our effort and hard work.”

Woodward recognized his recent starts as a result of his hard work and has used the support from Chambers and his teammates as a way to boost his confidence on game day.

“It increases my confidence tremendously. Having the confidence from coach, fifth year Tim, D.J. and the rest of starters makes a huge difference when trying to win big games.”

Having played 20 games all season, Chambers referred to Woodward’s time of play as “spot minutes” and pointed out that “he did not get a ton of minutes during non-conference play.” Chambers praised number three for his continuous hard work in practice, but also expressed why he likes using Woodward on the court.

“I like Tim off the ball because that tells him to score. Don’t facilitate, but score. Now you have two really good scorers on the wings with D.J. and Tim. With Graham at the point to start games it well hope both of those guys gain that trust.”

In his first season as a Nittany Lion, Woodward has averaged 2.8 points per game and has recorded a free throw percentage of 40. He has a total of 18 rebounds on the season and has contributed 11 assists for the Nittany Lions.

As a freshman, Woodward holds strong potential for his next three years and creates high hopes for the program overall. Woodward will look to get his fourth start on Sunday at 4:15 p.m. against the Fighting Illini.

Maddie Brightman is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email mvb5601@psu.edu.

Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)