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Shiga's Woodbury embraces pursuit of excellence

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Japan Times features periodic interviews with players in the bj-league. Terrance Woodbury of the Shiga Lakestars is the subject of this week’s profile.

Position: Guard/forward
Age: 27
Ht: 201 cm
Wt: 101 kg
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia
College: Georgia

Noteworthy: Woodbury leads the Lakestars in scoring (17.7 points per game). He’s made at least two 3-pointers in 15 of 28 games. He suited up for LF Basket in the Swedish League in the 2010-11 season, and helped the NBA Development League’s Austin Toros win the title the next season, appearing in 50 regular-season games (22 starts) and contributing 10.9 ppg. He returned to the Toros for an 11-game stint last season. In between, he starred for the Ryukyu Golden Kings during the 2012-13 season and averaged a team-best 17.6 ppg.  He participated in a Brooklyn Nets minicamp that featured 32 free agent players in June 2014.

While at Georgia, he increased his scoring output in each of his four college seasons. He averaged 5.6 points per game as a freshman in 2005-06, followed by 7.3 ppg in 2006-07, 11.0 in 2007-08 and 14.0 as a senior the next campaign.

As a college senior, when the Bulldogs were 10-17 overall and 1-11 in the SEC — they had five games remaining — Woodbury was asked what it meant to him to reach the 1,000-point milestone and be the team’s leading scorer.

“The scoring feels good,” Woodbury told the Athens Banner-Herald in a February 2009 interview. “But I could care less really, because we’re not really winning. I’m in the record books. That’s something nobody can take away from me. But at the same time, my personal accolades don’t mean anything right now because my team isn’t doing well.”


How did it feel to score a season-high 31 points on Jan. 18 and stop Hamamatsu’s 15-game win streak in the same game? Is “satisfaction” the best word to sum it all up?

It felt good, but 31 is not what’s important. We beat a really good team that had previously beat us the night before. So it was not that big of a deal for me to score 31, as it was a building block for us as a team. We understand that we have to grow with every loss and every win. So this was just another win for us, but another step in the right direction to our ultimate team goal: a championship.

You scored in double figures in 18 straight games (before a six-point outing against Ryukyu in a Saturday loss), and have put 10 or more points on the board in all but two games this season. Do you consider yourself a go-to scorer for the Lakestars, and do you believe consistency in terms of scoring output is your biggest, or one of your biggest, responsibilities for the team?

I didn’t know that, but that’s cool. I know that I have been brought here to put the ball in the hole. I’m just glad I have a group of guys that understand that and try the best to help me succeed as well as win. I know my biggest consistency is doing whatever it takes to help our team win. Most of the time it’s just taking care of the ball. If I can do that better, then that maximizes the chances if I score or not for our team to get a bucket and/or win.

The West is pretty tight at the top with reigning champion Ryukyu, Hamamatsu and Kyoto. But Shiga is just a few games behind those three. To continue to maintain that place, or to climb above fourth place, what are some specific aspects of the game you believe the Lakestars can improve?

We have to win. Simple and plain. The race is tight at the top, but we can get in the mix if we keep getting wins one at a time. There’s not one thing that we do great or one thing that we do bad. We just need to do everything a little better every night on the court and that will help us get to where we want to get to.

That said, what are the Lakestars’ chief strengths?

We are a really good team. We have a lot of great parts and we just have to keep jelling in order for us to be what we want to be. And that’s great as individual players, which leads to us being a great team.

At what age did you recognize that you had the potential to be a professional basketball player? And do you have a memory that best illustrates this? In addition, was becoming a pro player a longtime goal for you?

I loved the game every since my dad (Dennis Woodbury) introduced me to it. And when I saw MJ for the first time I knew this was something I wanted to do, so I would always practice, because my dad told me if I wanted to make a career out of this I would have to work for it.

Do you feel now that you’ve reached your prime as a player, or are you still making that climb toward the peak years of your career?

I’m just getting there. I’ve had a lot of injuries in the past. So it kinda slowed my career down and I’m really just getting used to being a pro. This is only my fourth year, but really third because last year I (mostly) sat out with a back injury. So I’m just starting to go uphill in my career.

Who were the toughest players you competed against during your days at the University of Georgia?

Man, I’ve played against a lot of good people. A lot of people from the SEC went on to play overseas or in the NBA, but some guys you may know: Jodie Meeks (Lakers), Alonzo Gee (Nuggets), Corey Brewer (Rockets), Joakim Noah (Bulls), Al Horford (Hawks). Man, the list could go on and on. Let’s just say there’s probably at least one person on every NBA team I played against in college.

In your own words, how would you describe Terrance Woodbury the basketball player?

Terrance Woodbury is a winner that loves to compete and hates to lose. I love to learn more about my shortcomings and I do my best to improve on them.

What have been your biggest thrills as a high school, college and pro basketball player?

Winning championships. I’ve won at every level that the Lord has placed me on. Now I want to get a chip in the bj-league as well.

What are your fondest memories of being named to the 2008 SEC All-Tournament Team as a junior and Georgia’s 66-57 title-game triumph over Arkansas? Was the Atlanta tornado that week a frightening occurrence? And as the East sixth seed with a 4-12 conference record entering the tourney, did the Georgia players really feel they could “shock the world?”

Man, that was a scary and great weekend all at the same time. I know for certain we didn’t feel as if we could shock the world. A lot of guys came with just one night of gear. The season was long and we had just got beaten by Ole Miss the last game of the season. But God works in mysterious ways. We had a great first game against them and won. Then when the storm hit, I don’t know, something just felt a little different.

We got a little swagger to us, then they placed us to play everybody in Georgia Tech’s gym. So we felt like we had an edge, but still I wasn’t sure. Then we found out we had to play the two games in one day. And when we won both of those, it was like we knew then that we could do this and to beat a very good Arkansas team for the tourney (championship) and be named to the All-Tournament team … it was truly a blessing in disguise.

Have you met Georgia hoop legend Dominique Wilkins at Bulldogs game or other UGA functions? Has he commented to you about your game?

Yes, I’ve met him, but it was a long time ago at a Bulldog function we had to kick off the season. But no, I’ve never asked him about my game.

How’d you get the nickname “Woodshop”?

When I was in high school my coach, Walter Webb, gave me the nickname because everybody use to call me Wood (last name Woodbury) and he always saw me in the gym (shop). So then the name came ’cause he heard a 50 Cent song called “Candy Shop.” So he switched it up and the song went like this:

I’ll take you to the Woodshop

I’ll teach you how to stop and pop

Ain’t no need to pass the rock

Keep going till I hit the shot!

Who is the Lakestars’ most unheralded player?

I can’t say that we have just one because we have a group of guys that don’t get the headlines or the attention, but they bring so much to the team that if it wasn’t for every player we have on our team we wouldn’t be able to play and succeed at the level we do.

What are Shiga bench boss Koto Toyama’s top traits as a head coach?

Man, coach is tough. And I love it. Sometimes it’s hard because he rides us so much, but you can only respect it. Because if he didn’t, you aren’t good enough and if that’s the case, you wouldn’t be here. So I appreciate all the fire he puts me through because it’s only going to make me better.

Which player in the NBA do you think your game is most similar to?

In the NBA I would say my game most resembles (Brooklyn’s) Joe Johnson. Being just that big wing that scores and defends. But I’m steadily evolving … so my game changes to really suit the opponent we play against.

For Shiga, how important is Jeff Parmer, former league MVP and title winner with Hamamatsu, as a team leader and the championship experience that he brings to the franchise?

Jeff is huge for us and really huge for me as well. Being in this league for a while is a hard thing to do if you’re not a good player. So he automatically gets respect because he knows what he’s doing. For our team, he is truly a staple for us. When he’s on the court, we definitely feel as if we can’t lose because he brings an energy and passion that’s unmatched. I know, as for me, we bump heads as competitors, but I trust him and he is definitely someone I look to for advice when things aren’t going mine or the team’s way.

Who was the most difficult defensive assignment you’ve faced this season? What made that player such a formidable challenge?

I think that every assignment I have is a tough one. Not every player is the same and that’s what makes it so much fun to compete against them. I’m not going to call any names because I might forget some people, but I respect every player that I go up against because I know I’m getting their best every night.

Feedback: Send an email to: edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp