It’s his time

GVL / Robert Mathews      
Senior Rob Woodson driving past MSU defender Travis Trice

GVL / Robert Mathews Senior Rob Woodson driving past MSU defender Travis Trice

Jay Bushen

Nothing was handed to senior point guard Rob Woodson of the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team.

Woodson, the team’s only senior, is finally getting a chance to prove himself in the starting lineup this season after waiting patiently for his chance to shine.

“I appreciate it more,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity I am getting. If something is given to you, you don’t understand it as much. I had to work my way up.”

He joined the team as a “preferred walk-on” in 2009, but had to wait his turn on a team that was loaded with talent in the backcourt. He decided to redshirt during his sophomore year.

The Inkster, Mich. native persevered.

“I wouldn’t say it was easy, sometimes you get down on yourself,” he said. “I just had to remember that one day I was going to get my time. I finally got it, and it means a lot to me. I know I have to keep on grinding.”

He appeared in all 55 games over the course of the next two seasons while coming off the bench as the team’s backup point guard behind All-GLIAC second-teamer Breland Hogan, his best friend who has since graduated.

Woodson said he learned a lot from Hogan during that time.

“Breland stayed aggressive and was a floor general for us,” he said. “I’m going to be way more vocal than I was last year, because this year I’m generating. I’m telling my teammates where to go so we can all come together and work toward a common goal.”

He said he compares his style of play to Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, a pass-first distributor who can score when needed while providing a defensive presence.

Woodson finished with the second-most assists (51) and steals (35) for the Lakers in 2012. He averaged six points and 2.7 rebounds per game while leading the Lakers with a shooting-percentage clip of 57.9 percent from the field.

“Rob has been a glue guy for us,” junior shooting guard Ryan Sabin said. “He brings leadership on and off the court and has a lot of experience under his belt.”

Sabin said the backcourt duo seems to have good chemistry early on in the season.

Head coach Ric Wesley said he has noticed a lot of progression with Woodson’s speed, quickness and explosiveness but the leadership ability is one of his greatest strengths.

“He’s one of our more popular guys,” Wesley said. “He’s got a real warm, engaging personality. He gets along with everybody and people enjoy being around him.

“He’s got a good sense of humor. It matches well with the position he plays on the floor and his personality is in his play. That goes hand-in-hand with the relationship he has with his teammates.”

Woodson said he couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming season and especially looks forward to the leadership role.

He’s earned it.

GVSU will take on Hope College tonight in an exhibition at the Fieldhouse Arena at 7 p.m.

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