North Texas Daily

Ryan Woolridge finds new leadership position with Mean Green

Ryan Woolridge finds new leadership position with Mean Green

Ryan Woolridge finds new leadership position with Mean Green
January 25
13:24 2019

Native Texan point guard Ryan Woolridge has started every single contest in his 38-game career playing for the North Texas Mean Green men’s basketball team last season and has started all 21 this season.

However, when you take a look at Woolridge’s statistics for the 2018-19 season compared to last season’s 2017-18 numbers, they’ve remained similar.

He’s averaging a similar amount of points — 12.2 points per game — compared to last season’s 12.7 and averages a similar amount assists, with 5.15 assists per game.

The difference is Woolridge is doing this in 4.5 fewer minutes per game while improving his shooting percentage to over .500. He has also helped the Mean Green improve to 18-3, while they were 11-10 at this point in 2017-18. In 2017-18, Woolridge set the Mean Green single-season record for assists with 209.

“Last year was more of a ‘get a feel for the game’ [year],” Woolridge said. “Now it’s more of a ‘you’ve got to lead the team.’ You’ve got to be the person to make the right play and make the right choice.”

This season, Woolridge has led the team in nearly every single statistical category.

He leads the team in scoring, assists, minutes and steals. The 6-foot-3 point guard is second in rebounds per game at 6.5, behind starting sophomore center Zachary Simmons, with 6.7.

Head coach Grant McCasland said he doesn’t believe the numbers tell the whole story on Woolridge.

“He can lead us in all those categories individually,” McCasland said. “His greatest strength is he wants everybody else to be great”

Woolridge has stepped into the role of the leader effectively and has seemingly had no problem doing so, despite not being one of the older players.

“His growth as an individual from a leadership standpoint has really improved,” McCasland said. “It’s hard because he’s not a very extroverted person. He’s learned to command the team and help us from a leadership standpoint.”

Along with Woolridge’s offensive growth, his defense has been apparent with his 37 steals on the season for the Mean Green this season.

“Where Ryan is more impactful than anywhere is not [on] offense,” McCasland said. “It’s his ball pressure. Ryan’s ball pressure is really impactful on our defense.”

Being an effective basketball player requires more than being able to score, but to also effectively pass the ball to other players on the court. Not only McCasland but also Woolridge’s teammates have taken notice of his impact this season.

“He’s so good at making plays and seeing the court,” Simmons said. “He makes it a lot easier for other guys to score he draws a lot of attention especially on the defense.”

This is Woolridge’s third season with North Texas,every season he’s averaged at least 28.5 minutes per game. This season, he’s up to 34.1 per game. Woolridge’s impact is seen in the smaller gaps — the rebounds by guards, steals and his speed and enables him to find his teammates.

This season is different, though. He does a little bit of everything for the team and giving him that role is paying off, considering their 18-3 record thus far through the season. Woolridge himself said he sees no significance in the numbers.

“It’s not something I think about too much,” Woolridge said. “I go out there and play it’s something I’ve done all my life.”

Last season, Woolridge was able to garner experience, averaging nearly 37 minutes a night and leading the Mean Green to win the College Basketball Invitational, where Woolridge tallied 28 points, 16 assists and 9 rebounds in the best-of-3 series.

Woolridge leads his team in every major statistical category and North Texas has a solid chance of competing for a conference championship.

“It means I’m putting in the work,” Woolridge said. “The work I’ve been putting in all my life is paying off.”

Featured Image: Mean Green junior guard Ryan Woolridge in the game against Rice on the Jan. 19. Image by Trevon McWilliams. 

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Joshua Paveglio

Joshua Paveglio

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