Basketball: In Ottawa for all the Wright reasons

Yours truly has an article on Josh Wright, the former Syracuse guard who's joined No. 4-ranked Ottawa, in tomorrow's print edition of the Ottawa Sun.

The challenge of it was to balance the hard news with the feature angle. Wright coming to Ottawa is a good story. Speaking as a hoops nut who follows Syracuse and knows it was a rough time all-around -- the Orange missed the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years in 2006-07 and '07-08, which is inexcusable in 'Cuse Country -- one can only hope for Wright that it works out in his new destination. Syracuse fans have sky-high expectations since it has long been a school which can recruit itself, like Duke, Kentucky, UCLA or North Carolina, and it can be tough if a player struggles.

There is the fact that he had a small brush with the law last summer in New York state. It would have been derelict not to mention it (it was noted in a brief that ran 10 days ago after he debuted for Ottawa at the Wesmen Classic. It's a fact that is out there. The truth is people need second chances, especially when they're young.

Talk about odd. The Gee-Gees have an American who played at Syracuse. The Orange's best player over the last little while is a Canadian, Andy Rautins.

Ottawa coach Dave DeAveiro had some quotes about Wright that didn't fit into the tight confines of the dead-tree medium, so here they are:

On working Wright into the Gee-Gees' system, which calls for aggressive man-to-man instead of Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone: "It's an exciting time for us in terms of having Josh. The tough part now is now getting Josh to fit in and learn our system, pretty quickly, don’t think it will take him long. It's a little bit different than sitting in that Syracuse zone."

On playing Wright with Josh Gibson-Bascombe, giving the Gee-Gees two players with point guard skills: "You can already see them starting to find each other court. We play a pretty up-tempo style and maybe we'll be able to push the tempo a little higher. They'll get our bigs running and wings running."

On expectations for Wright: "It definitely makes us a better team, no question, People have to understand, our league is pretty good, there are great players, great coaches in this conference, I don’t think it's going to be easy. One thing he is ready for is he's ready for the challenge."

On the personality and skills of a Big East player: "He does things and sees things on our court that are surprising. In terms of being athletic, he does a couple things that make you say, 'wow.' ... you can see why he was rated as such (Ed's note: 21st-best player nationwide in the class of 2004, according to He has Division 1 skills, I can see why he was playing down there.

"The one thing, we don’t want him to do too much. There is a learning curve for him and it's a learning curve for us."

(To a separate question) "One thing I love about him is that he's been very vocal with our guys, getting them commenting to one another on the court. I can see him being the kind of vocal leader that we haven't had in a while."

On questions about eligibility (Wright played briefly for Syracuse in 2007-08, appearing in four games, before leaving the team Dec. 15, 2007): "We know there has been all kind of talk about Josh’s eligibility on the Internet, because of what happened last year with him leaving Syracuse after a few games. The Big East has granted him his fourth year of eligibility. You hear people saying, 'How's he eligible? How's he eligible?'

"We"re not going to play a person who’s not eligible. The Big East was kind enough to give him his fourth year back and hopefully we’ll have him for two years."

On his new guard's need to to make this fresh start work: "We've talked about the incident with the credit card. Josh has been totally honest with me, he's been nothing but honest and truthful. We had an opportunity to have his parents up here for a weekend, they're great people as well."

It is bound to add some "flavour" to the Carleton-Ottawa rivalry, as if it was not already intense enough.

(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)
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