By Brad Fauber
WINCHESTER -- Shenandoah senior guard Avery Green hates watching basketball from the sidelines. So when tendonitis in his left knee forced him to miss all but the first nine games of the Hornets' 2012-13 season, Green admits that "it really killed me inside" as he was forced to watch helplessly while Shenandoah struggled to a 4-22 season.
Determined to return to the team at full strength this year, Green worked to get healthy during the offseason and was able to return to the basketball court around May, playing pick-up games and hitting the weight room in preparation for the Hornets' second season in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
But then another obstacle was hurled in Green's direction.
This past summer, Green's grandmother succumbed to a blood clot in her brain, passing away at the age of 65. Suddenly, Green's entire outlook on life -- and basketball -- took a different shape.
"Losing my grandma really made me look at things different this season. It kind of showed me that you really can't take things for granted," Green said before practice on Wednesday. "It just really put me in a better state of mind, and I think because of the obstacles I've had to overcome ... that's going to better me as a person and as a basketball player."
Things have since slowed down for Green, both on the court and off it. He understands the value of seizing opportunity. Off the court, Green no longer pushes the important things aside. On the court, Green is patient.
"I'm just trying to make sure I'm doing the right things all the time, on the court and off the court. Hopefully this is a positive in my life at the end of the day," he said.
Green has truly taken that transition to heart, and with the official start of the Hornets' regular season slated to tip off on Friday against Methodist in Shenandoah's BB&T Tip-Off Classic, he can now focus his newfound outlook towards helping guide the Hornets this season.
Green is one of four seniors for Shenandoah this season, a welcomed number for head coach Rob Pryor, who didn't have a single senior on last year's squad. Green's name was the first one mentioned by Pryor when asked which seniors were taking noticeable leadership roles this preseason. And it isn't just that Green has three years of college basketball experience under his belt that makes him such a valuable commodity -- he can also score the basketball.
As a sophomore, Green led Shenandoah by averaging 15.7 points per game. Last season, he dropped 9.9 points per game before being shut down for the year.
"He can score it any way you want it. He drives it. He makes tough finishes in traffic. He can hit the 3-ball," Pryor said.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Green is averaging 11.9 points per game in his career, and the Fredericksburg native is 287 points shy of the 1,000 career point mark. In last Friday's 87-62 exhibition loss against Division I Campbell University, Green finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes of action.
Green also finished with two steals in the loss, and Pryor said Green's defensive fortitude often gets overshadowed by his explosiveness on offense.
"The thing that I think is underrated about him is his defense. When he makes up his mind to shut somebody down, he does," Pryor said. "He gets a lot of steals, a lot of run-outs in transitions. He allows us to get a lot easy baskets ... and I think that just opens up for everybody else, makes it easier for everybody else, takes the pressure of off everybody else. His impact is immeasurable. Having him back is huge."
Pryor said that the combination of Green and junior point guard Jared Carithers -- last season's leading scorer at 13 points per game -- gives the Hornets "one of the best backcourts in the ODAC," a title that Green isn't quite ready to claim yet.
"At the end of the day, we still have a lot to prove," Green said.
Green insists that the Hornets' goal this season should be to win the ODAC championship, because "if you don't set your goals high, you shouldn't set them at all." On a personal level, Green wants to earn the respect that he feels he and the rest of his teammates deserve.
"Individually, I just want to send a message every game -- prove everybody wrong every game, because at the end of the day, Shenandoah doesn't get respect, so I know individually I don't get any respect," Green said. "So I'm going to do my best to earn respect every game."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD