At CCS, Woods knew he had to play a big role to help his team be successful. He led the Cougars with 15.3 points and 5.1 assists per game as they advanced to a regional semifinal last year. Transitioning to Fairfield, Woods didn’t feel like his teammates had any expectations for him to meet, but he said he felt outside pressure to prove he could “play at any level and adapt to any situation.”
Woods said the biggest difference playing Division I competition is the physicality and speed of the game, so he’s been working on building strength and making faster reads.
Indians coach D.J. Wyrick believes Woods’ work ethic has been the greatest attribute he’s contributed to the team – even more so than the statistics.
“He’s brought a lot of positives for us,” Wyrick said. “He’s really dedicated to basketball and has drawn some interest from some D-I colleges. In terms of what he’s brought the team, the scoring is great and he’s also committed to the defensive end, but what I appreciate most is his work ethic really got him where he’s at. With as young as we are, those younger guys can see if they want to get where he is, they have to dedicate themselves like he has.”
Woods, a 6-foot-4 guard who can score multiple ways, is surrounded by three sophomores in the starting lineup, while seniors Logan Murphy and Merlin Pope have split time at the forward spot. Sophomore Deshawne Crim started the majority of the season last year as a freshman and has grown into a more mature player in Year 2, adding 16.1 points per game, while guard Ray Coney and center Amir Rogers are first-year starters on varsity.
Wyrick said overall it’s a good group that likes to play together.
“We’ve been playing hard,” Wyrick said. “I like our defensive effort and our kids really enjoy playing with each other, which I think has really helped us. We’re a good-shooting team, but our numbers don’t show that. We haven’t shot as well early in the season from 3 or overall … so we need to improve our shooting but it’s early. We’ve got some football guys just getting into basketball mode and quarantine (right before the opener) didn’t help, but that will come along.”
The Indians lost their first two games to a pair of Greater Catholic League South teams after coming off quarantine that week, but they have bounced back to win five of the next seven games, including a 20-point margin over Lakota West on Tuesday.
Wyrick likes to see the progress in his second season at the helm, which he attributes to a high commitment level from the players, but he reminds them not to get too confident. Fairfield was 7-16 last year, and the goals for this season are still ahead of them with a chance to finish in the top three in the GMC and earn at least a 15-7 record.
“I tell our guys we can’t just settle for being 4-0 and being content,” Wyrick said. “We need to continue working hard and continue to improve. As weird of a year as it is with COVID, the team that improves the most at the end is going to have the best chance in the tournament. We just have to keep improving day in and day, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”