Posted: Thursday September 21, 2006 4:03PM; Updated: Thursday September 21, 2006 4:03PM
John Bryant has enjoyed recent success, and the hopes the winning ways continue with the Frost Heaves.
I collect obscure basketball trivia questions, e.g.: Who played center at UCLA between Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton? (A: Steve Patterson)
Who are two college stars of recent vintage whose first names are the surnames of legendary shortstops? (A: Aparicio Curry and Crosetti Speight)
What former LSU star was known around the SEC as "the Trilateral Summit Conference?" (A: Nikita Francisco Wilson)
And, whose chest did Christian Laettner gratuitously stomp on during the epic 1992 NCAA East Regional Final between Duke and Kentucky? (A: Aminu Timberlake)
I'm delighted to share news that the Frost Heaves have signed the answer to a trivia question that ranks with the aforementioned immortals: Who was the St. Joseph's forward whose arm was broken as a result of Temple coach John Chaney sending a Chaney-described "goon" into a game?
Yes, John Bryant -- arm thoroughly healed and a successful professional season in England behind him -- will be playing in Barre and Burlington when the Heaves tip-off in November.
Bryant brings a portfolio of the subtle basketball arts -- screen-setting, rebounding, defense and passing. Just the kind of stuff that's liable to drive an opposing coach to extreme measures.
A two-year captain at St. Joe's, Bryant was on Hawk Hill for an astonishing 96 victories, starting virtually every game during the team's undefeated 2003-04 regular season. Last season, with the Newcastle Eagles of the British Basketball League, his team swept all four BBL titles: the regular season, the playoffs, the BBL Cup and the BBL Trophy. During a recent tryout camp in Oregon for Americans auditioning for spots in the Chinese Basketball Association, Bryant played superbly, defending post players much taller than he. When he couldn't come to terms with any teams in the Middle Kingdom, he lit out for Vermont's Northeast Kingdom -- or at least a stretch of Route 2 short of the Northeast Kingdom. We're lucky to have him.
We announced four other signings this week:
Like Bryant, Lester Strong is a 6-foot-7 forward who plays bigger than that -- and Lester's pedigree includes an NCAA Division II title at Metro State of Colorado. Our coach, Will Voigt, spent a year as an assistant at Metro working with Lester, who along with Antonio Burks (a Voigt player in Norway two seasons ago) is wise in the ways of the 1-1-3, an idiosyncratic defense that will be a Frost Heaves staple. He's been playing Down Under for the past two seasons, most recently putting up numbers sick enough to merit quarantine: 29 points, 14 rebounds.
A native of Stowe, Vt., Dana Martin scored more than 1,500 points at Division III Skidmore, captaining the team twice and winning conference player of the year honors. He's a rugged 6-4 shooting guard who toughed his way through all our tryout camps, and already has a following around the state as a result of the kids' camps he has run since he was a teenager. He sprang for 22 a game as a pro in Germany last season, and is excited to be not only Stateside, but in his home state, doing further post-grad work in Hoopology.
Kerry Lyons is a former all-state player at Milton (Vt.) High, which he led to the state Final Four at one of our home floors, the Aud in Barre, in each of his four seasons. At Vermont's Lyndon State College, he was nothing but a leader, captaining the team three times and even getting invited back as an assistant coach after graduation. For our press conference this week he had wrapped his six feet, six inches in a crisp pinstripe suit, leaving no doubt that, at 30, he's our senior statesman; and that he works at an upper-end haberdashery, Michael Keogh, on Church Street in Burlington.
A late-blooming, 6-1 product of Newark's West Side, Melvin Creddle earned his spot on the team in two striking ways. One was by surviving a grueling mini-camp several weeks ago, to which we invited a half-dozen point guard prospects, including an ABA All-Star and others with overseas pro experience. Though he's fresh out of Division II Mount Olive (N.C.) College and thus has no pro experience of his own, Melvin's defense and explosiveness made him the class of the camp. But the toughest test he passed was the six-hour drive up from the metro New York area with director of operations Michael Healey and me -- a pretty grueling job interview by any standard.
A prediction: Someday this season, if you keep an eye on "Alex in Wonderland," you'll see "creddle" used as a verb.