By ADAM HAGER
For the last four years, no player has made more of an impact on the Anderson Center hardwood than senior guard for the men’s basketball team, Brad Riester. Just a few games ago, Riester reached the 1,000 point mark for his career, and at 22.8 points per game through five games so far this season, he isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Tuesday morning, Sports writer Adam Hager sat down with Riester to talk about his life, his game and what lies ahead.
Adam Hager: What was your transition to college like? How was the pace of play different for you, having to start right away as a freshman?
Brad Riester: We ran in high school and had a pretty athletic team but, still, college is a whole different speed. Everyone plays harder. You might get an open shot, but you might be gassed and brick it, so you have to get used to just going hard all the time. Shooting when you’re tired, playing when you’re tired, and everyone plays defense. It’s a lot harder.
AH: How come you chose to come to the University of Mary Washington?
BR: I guess because it was close to home, and I thought I would get the opportunity to play right away and that’s pretty much what I wanted. It’s also a good school, a good degree. So it’s not like I’m going somewhere just for basketball then I don’t have a good degree.
AH: You started right away as a freshman, right? What was that like for you, playing against guys that already had a bunch of experience at the collegiate level?
BR: I guess I competed kind of well, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was just out there running around. I didn’t really have much structure to my game, and that’s one thing I’ve tried to work on.
AH: How have you improved as a player since then?
BR: I think I had to learn to be consistent on defense and go hard all the time. And just learning the game, learning the right times to do things. The right times to shoot and the right time to pass. Just basic basketball IQ stuff.
AH: You guys play Frostburg State tomorrow. If I were to go ask their coach what he has on the scouting report for you, what do you think he’d tell me?
BR: Probably that I have the green light to shoot; shoot from deep, shoot from anywhere. And to close out, try to make me go to the basket, I guess.
AH: It seems to me, just from watching college ball, that for guys who have the green light typically shoot maybe 35 percent from three point range and maybe 41, 42 percent overall. You are shooting 49 percent from the field this year in five games. How are you doing that?
BR: Just knowing when and where I can get my shots. And if they try to take away certain shots, knowing how to adjust and what the openings will be. That has come from playing for Coach Wood and getting older.
AH: Speaking of scoring, you reached the 1,000 point mark not too long ago. What was that like?
BR: It was nice. And I think the way I did it was good too because we beat a good team and we just had a really good game as a team. It was a lot of fun.
AH: What is your relationship like with Coach Wood?
BR: It’s good. I’m sure I can frustrate him at times, but he’s given me a lot of good opportunities as I’ve said. I’ve been able to grow a lot as a player and a person. He looks out for his players.
AH: He seems like he’s pretty tough on you guys on the court.
BR: That’s how you know he cares a lot, which is good. I’d rather have that than have someone that doesn’t really say much. He invests a lot. He knows his players well. We don’t really see it as being tough on us because we know he is just pushing us.
AH: You have a bunch of guys this year who have a lot of experience and some who are new. You, senior guard Taylor Johnson, and senior forward Dylan Farinet have been around for a while. What is it like playing with a bunch of new guys?
BR: We have a lot of good, young guys this year. We still have a lot of returners, so we’re able to do what we do as a group and pull the new guys along, show them what we’re doing. They all go hard, and they are all talented. It’s pretty exciting.
AH: Do you see yourself as a leader and mentor, having a bunch of young guys around?
BR: Yeah, trying to be. You know, [the older players] know what to expect, what everything entails.
AH: How did losing in the conference tournament semifinals motivate you for this year?
BR: It hurt. It was [against] a team, St. Mary’s, that’s always in the top 15 in the country, but we always compete with them. I think we beat them once or twice, but come tournament time, we lost, and it stings. I thought, I only have one more year. It added a sense of urgency.
AH: What is this team like off the court?
BR: We’re all really good friends. I would guess most teams aren’t like that. We all hang out, on the court, off the court, all the time. We have a lot of fun together.
AH: Out of all the players who have been in the program the last few years, it seems like Coach Wood consistently gives you a lot of minutes. How have you been able to earn that trust with him?
BR: One thing he says is he’ll go with what he knows. So he knows what we can do. He’ll look at us and after one year, he knows what we can and what we can’t do.
AH: What are your expectations for the rest of this season, for you and for the team?
BR: To win a conference championship. That’s what it’s always been, you know? Whatever I get along the way is nice, but for my senior season I just really want to play in the NCAA tournament; I’ve never been. I know we have a competitive conference, but our team is looking really good.
AH: What type of legacy do you hope to leave at Mary Washington?
BR: I hope that people would say we had one of the best teams that’s ever been at this school and that people would remember how we played, how close we were, how hard we played. We always have good energy and we love playing, so hopefully everyone will remember that.
Riester is a senior English major and a starting guard for the men’s basketball team. After graduation he said he would ideally like to get paid to fish. Realistically, he plans on working for an insurance agency here in Fredericksburg starting next fall. You can watch Riester and the rest of the Eagles next Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Anderson Center as they take on St. Mary’s at 3 p.m.