Rider's Anthony Myles poised for breakthrough
|Anthony Myles broke his left hand last year, but feels it was a blessing in disguise/ Photo by JOHN BLAINE|
Myles was playing the best basketball of his career when he broke his left hand last year in a loss to Albany, forcing him to miss Rider’s final two regular-season games and the MAAC tournament.
It was a tough pill to swallow for a player who had scored in double figures in seven of his last nine games prior to the injury.
It didn’t help that Myles is left-handed.
“It took a mental toll on me,” Myles said this week at practice as the Broncs prepare to face in-state rival Monmouth Saturday at Alumni Gymnasium. “But that’s part of being a basketball player — dealing with adversity — and I think I handled it pretty well. It was hard having to watch my team.”
Actually, he ended up using his time off to his advantage.
“All-in-all, it was a blessing in disguise,” Myles said, pointing out that he started doing drills with his right hand while waiting for the left to heal.
He also admitted it was beneficial watching from the sideline, helping him become a better student of the game.
The early results indicate an even better Myles. He’s off to a strong start, averaging 12 .5 points per game through the opening two contests, which the Broncs split.
Coach Kevin Baggett attributes that to his maturity.
“He’s now understanding, being a junior, the sense of urgency because it’s almost over for him,” Baggett said. “He wants to play professionally when he’s done, so he’s trying to be a student of the game, as well as what he’s doing on the court.”
Myles, a native of Wilmington, Del., said he worked hard on his outside shooting in the offseason. In Baggett’s dribble-drive offense, you have to be able to knock down open shots.
So far, Myles has done that, connecting on four of his nine 3-point attempts, while shooting 50 percent (8 of 16) from the field.
“We get in the lane and kick the ball out, so you have to hit the open shot,” Myles said. “That’s one of my focuses this year, hitting the open shot.”
It also benefits Myles to have fellow guards Nurideen Lindsey and Jon Thompson on the floor with him.
Lindsey is averaging 21.5 points per game through two contests and Thompson has never been one to shy away from a big shot.
“Having two more versatile guards,” Myles said, “opens the floor up for everybody.”
Baggett said Myles should make an all-conference team at the end of the year after being snubbed in the preseason.
But that also boils down to the team having a successful season.
“Those accomplishments,” Baggett said, “come if your team is winning, because if you’re losing, those aren’t coming.”