(Nashua) - "He gets it."
Of all the sound
bites the irrepressible Bill Parcells was fond of bombarding the
assembled press with, that one always seemed to resonate above the
It was usually used to describe that late drafted rookie who may have put the scouts asleep at the combine, but nevertheless still had a shot at making the team simply due to an innate knowledge of the game, his surroundings and what was at stake.
Give the Tuna a few moments with Methuen's Ryan Middlemiss and you get the feeling he might go to the well one more time with the phrase.
The senior point guard and newly elected captain of the Daniel Webster College men's basketball team recently was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honor Court (read the original DWC announcement here). The award recognizes the top collegiate academic achievers at all levels and Middlemiss is the first DWC men's hoop player to earn it. Ask Middlemiss about the award and Parcells' phrase pop immediately to mind.
"When you are playing Division 3 basketball, you have to keep your priorities straight and be looking ahead to what is next," said the sports management student, who posted a 3.6 GPA while also finishing second in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference in assists at 4.0 a contest. "I love basketball, but I realized from a young age that when you're a 5-foot-8 point guard, you probably are not going to the NBA. You need to be looking towards your future."
Middlemiss will also be the first to admit that there was a time that he didn't quite get it. Never a bad student while starring at Methuen High, he's also quick to admit that his picture probably is not going to jog the memory of the Methuen library staff anytime soon.
"In high school, I really didn't apply myself as much as I could," said Middlemiss, who added 5.7 points and 3.1 rebounds a game. "There's just so much going on and the last thing you're thinking about is your future. But it's definitely a maturing process. You look at how much college costs these days and books become the most important thing. I want to get the most out of it as possible."
Middlemiss says that maturing process has not been solely confined to the classroom, but the hardwood as well. While he looks back at his eventful career with the Rangers fondly, he wishes that he was remembered more for his play than his sometimes tempestuous nature.
"We had some tough years and I think I got a bad rap because I got T'ed up (received technical fouls) a lot," said Middlemiss, who was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star in 2003. "I think a lot of people probably thought I was this loud punk out there, but it was just that I was so competitive and hated losing. But that's high school. It's all part of the maturing process."
Out of high school, he had a brief stay at Springfield College, then starred at Northern Essex.
Middlemiss, 22, says he would like to stay involved in basketball after graduation either as a coach or in a marketing capacity. First-year Daniel Webster coach Jeremy Currier says he can see Middlemiss doing the former and is hopeful that he might have him right next to him on the bench a year from now as a graduate assistant.
"There's no question that it would be a great fit for him," said the former Pinkerton Academy and Endicott College standout, who became one of the youngest college basketball coaches in the country when he took over the DWC program in March at the age of 25. "There's no question that he's a natural leader and the type of person that people respond to."
That type of leadership will be invaluable this year in Nashua. Forced to play last year with as little as nine players, Currier and his equally young staff went into recruiting overdrive and netted a plethora of talented freshmen including Eagle-Tribune Player of the Year Stephen Savage of Salem as well as his teammate with the Class L champion Blue Devils, Chris Voukides.
Middlemiss recently helped guide a group of those freshman all the way to the Adidas College Summer League finals in Nashua, where he was the only upperclassmen on the team. He looks forward to guiding them through the inevitable pitfalls that come during your first year away from home as well.
"Absolutely. We're going to have study halls three times a week anyway," says the team's lone captain. "I'll be the first to tell them that I was just like them, but once again they're not at a Division 1 school. They're here to get an education."
The Tuna couldn't have said it better himself.
Bob Albright is a staff writer for the Eagle-Tribune newspaper of Lawrence, Mass.