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January 31, 2013

Positioned to succeed: Indians' Todd thrives inside

Murray County basketball player Brady Todd is an undersized post surrounded by teammates who thrive on passing and shooting from the perimeter.

But because Todd is the team’s top option inside, the 6-foot-1-inch senior has to play bigger than his actual size.

While the Indians (12-10, 7-4 Region 7-2A) produce a lot of points through motion offense and 3-pointers, Todd leads the team by averaging 12.4 points per game and is second on the roster with five rebounds per game. He spends the majority of his time both on offense and defense inside the 3-point line going against opposing teams’ biggest athletes.

But while size has its benefits in the post, grabbing rebounds and making tough shots with tons of bodies and arms around him is all about positioning, Todd said.

“The main thing is you have to be able to use your body, get your body in position where they can’t get to the ball,” he added. “You also have to make contact. They’ll let you make contact, and that way you can keep them from blocking your shot.”

The key for Todd is working before ever getting the ball, or before the ball even crosses the half-court line. Todd often battles at the high post or closer to the basket, giving teammates someone to pass to.

“That’s half the battle,” he said. “If you can get in a good enough spot, it doesn’t matter how tall you are. ... You just have to beat them to the spot sometimes.”

Once he gets the ball, defenses converge and it leads to kick-outs and open 3-pointers for teammates like Jacob Sturgill, Martin Contreras and Dylan Woodard.

“Your post player has to have guys around him that he can trust,” said Murray County coach Greg Linder, who described Todd as “not your typical post player” because of his height.

“What we’re talking to him about is being an unselfish player. We do everything inside-out. He’s sort of the centerpiece. When he is being effective inside, he’s making great opportunities for himself and our outside shooters from the post.”

In each of the Indians’ nine games since the Christmas break, Todd has been in double digits for points and the Indians have won five of eight region games. With three games left, everyone is looking up at region leader Calhoun, but a second-place finish is available for the Indians, who finished last season with a losing record and missed out on the Class 3A state tourney.

“Last year, we didn’t have as much experience,” Todd said. “Especially as we’ve moved down to 2A, everyone wants to press. We’re able to handle it a lot easier. Everyone can handle the ball better. The experience is the main thing that has helped us out.”

He currently is the team’s leading scorer, averages around two assists per game and shoots nearly 50 percent from the field and 65 percent from the free-throw line. All of his offensive statistics are up from last season, when he averaged 10 points per game and received the team’s MVP award.

“What Brady has done a tremendous job of is his points-per-game average has increased,” Linder said. “It’s mainly because he’s gotten healthy. When the season started, he was still banged up from football. He had a high-ankle sprain. Ever since we came back from Christmas break, it’s almost like he’s been a different player.”

Todd, who was a two-way starter for the Indians on the football field this past season, doesn’t deny the physical play post players often get away with inside the 3-point line. He’s “used to it from football” but said the real pain comes when he steps in front of an oncoming opponent.

“Mostly when we get banged up is from taking charges,” Todd said.

Todd leads the team in that statistic, too, with 17 this season; he is also the second-leading rebounder behind Matthew Corbin. Those defensive contributions are additional ways he has been able to help Murray County this season even when opponents make stopping his scoring a priority.

“He’s the centerpiece to our defense, being in the middle of our matchup zone,” Linder said. “He did a real good job of dealing with guys who are bigger and stronger than he is.

“It all falls back to the same thing, and it’s being a smart player and understanding the importance of getting positioning. He reads the ball well coming off the rim. ... A lot of rebounding the basketball is ‘want-to.’ When the ball comes off the glass, he wants to go get it.”

In a home loss to Model earlier this month, he had 15 points by halftime and received much of the opponent’s attention, even when he didn’t have the ball.

“The last few weeks, especially as we’ve gone into the second rotation in the region, he’s gotten a lot more attention,” Linder said. “Against Pepperell a week ago, he had 15 points in the first half and started getting double-teamed in the second.”

Being shut down could aggravate anyone, and Todd is no exception.

“It gets rough,” he said, “but that’s a time when you have to step out and get in a different position.”

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