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(Photo by George Mason Athletics)
Around the Rim: Edwards Thrives at the Point
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 01/09/2013

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Corey Edwards didn't like how the situation felt as he dribbled down court last Saturday against William & Mary with the Patriots leading 65-61 and just over two minutes left. So the sophomore point guard decided to call a timeout, causing head coach Paul Hewitt to do a double-take on the bench.

   "My eyes were bugging out," said Hewitt, who initially didn't want a timeout at that moment.

   But Edwards was aware of all the circumstances. The Patriots had three timeouts left, while host William & Mary had just one. "We were good with timeouts," Edwards said. "If we used one and everybody could re-gather their thoughts, we could execute a play and win the game. Coach called a play and we executed it."

    Sherrod Wright turned a layup into a three-point play for a 68-61 lead with 1:54 left in a game the Patriots won 73-66.

   "It was a great point guard play for him to come down and have the feel and recognition of the situation," Hewitt said. "It's like a quarterback gets to the line of scrimmage and doesn't like the call or the set or what the defense is in. We got up seven and never looked back."

    After playing back-up to Bryon Allen early in the season, Edwards has been the starter since game number nine, against UMBC in early December, a stretch of six games heading into Thursday's contest at home against Old Dominion.

   "We decided to give him a try," Hewitt said. "He was ready and has played well since.

    "He's what all coaches want in that there was a point in this season and even last year when he wasn't playing as much as he probably wanted to. It never affected his work habits, how he prepared."

    He has stabilized a position that Hewitt emphasized needed improvement early in the non-conference portion of the schedule. The 5-9 Edwards is averaging 4.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting the team's second-best percentage from the field, 52.3 percent to Wright's 53.6 percent.

    "When your point guard and 2-guard are shooting over 50 percent from the field, that's pretty good," Hewitt said.

    Edwards learned the game in Queens, N.Y., from his father, David Edwards, a flamboyant guard and high-profile recruit who averaged 41 points a game in high school before playing one year at Georgetown and then transferring to Texas A&M in the early 1990s. The father and son playing styles couldn't be more different, though David toned down his game as a point guard at Texas A&M.

    "It's like night and day," Corey said of the contrasting father-son styles. "My father was like a scorer first and a pass-first point guard later. When I was little he put the mindset of being a pass-first point guard into me. It kind of helped me. Now my offensive game is starting to evolve. It's starting to balance out now."

   Edwards spent a lot of time in the summer working on his shot, cocking his wrist more and getting more arc on his attempts.

    "The coaches did a good job in tweaking my jump shot," Edwards said, naming Roland Houston, Mike Wells and Chris Kreider. "I have them to thank for that. I got a lot of repetitions over the summer. That helped a lot."

    Edwards is shooting a red-hot 66.7 percent from three-point range, though his sample size (8-for-12) isn't very large. Still, he's much more of an outside threat this season, which helps his penetration.
    "Now teams not only have to play me for the drive, but I can hit the pull-up jumper and I can hit the three," he says. "That helps the team a lot."

    This isn't the first time Edwards has played well for a stretch. He had momentum going last year before suffering a concussion during the non-conference schedule and missing two games.

    "A concussion is nothing to play around with," Edwards said. "It's serious. I never got my rhythm back after the concussion last year."

   Now Edwards' physical problem is his fingers, gnarled and taped because of all the team-leading deflections he gets. He dislocated both pinkies at Christ the King High School in Queens. Both are bothering him again. His right index finger was dislocated earlier in the season.

   "I just have to play through it and deal with it at the end of the season," Edwards says.

    Edwards logged 33 minutes at William & Mary. He can get relief at the point from Allen, who now is also playing the wing when Edwards is the point guard.

    "Bryon is a heck of a defender," Hewitt said. "Now you have another guy out there who can pressure the ball and get deflections. So you've got Corey and him out there together. Bryon was the first sub off the bench on the wing (against William & Mary) and it looked good. He got out in transition. We're much more dangerous in transition."

   Edwards contributes more than assists, points, steals and deflections. He also helps the team with his outgoing personality and wisecracking sense of humor.

    "I keep everybody on the team comfortable," he says. "That's basically my role. Making jokes with the coaches, keeping everybody smiling.

    "As point guard, that's what you should do. If somebody's having trouble with their girlfriend, you should know about it so you know how to talk to them. You should know all the personalities on the team. That's kind of what I am."


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