David Golladay never complains. So when he asked to come out of Saturday's game, Bowie State University's men's basketball coach Darrell Brooks was surprised.
“He took himself out of the game and he doesn't ever do that,” Brooks said. “So I knew he was really hurt. He wasn't moving well — he was playing through it — but I guess it became too much.”
Golladay, who suffered a right thigh contusion after getting hit in practice two weeks ago, has stepped into a stating role this winter for the Bulldogs. In four games, the senior has averaged 6.0 points per game with 1.3 rebounds a contest. But the injury has limited the 2009 Henry A. Wise High School graduate — he played 25 minutes in each of the first two contests and no more than 11 in the two games since suffering the injury.
“It's hard to play on one leg,” Golladay said with a laugh before practice on Tuesday. “The way I play, it's my strong leg. I'll be fine in a bit, but I just can't move well at all right now.”
When the 6-foot-2, 195-pound forward is healthy, Brooks anticipates significant contributions to a team that won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament last season.
“He starts for us for a reason,” Brooks said. “He's a really good athletic wing guy that can score. He's not a great 3-point shooter, but he's a very, very solid mid-range game.”
Added Golladay: “I've gotten smarter. College ball teaches you how to take less shots and score more, learn how to play and anticipate what your teammates and opponents are going to do.”
After graduating from Wise, Golladay played two years at Mount St. Mary's, but transferred to Prince George's Community College following a coaching change. He also wanted to be closer to home to his 2-year-old daughter, Madison, who comes to some of Bowie State's practices to watch her father and most of the Bulldogs' home games. Last year at Bowie State, he played sparingly off the bench.
“Those were a couple of the reasons and I knew when I transferred, I knew I was going to go to a [junior college]. PGCC called and it's 10 minutes from my house so it was an easy decision.”
Added Brooks: “I don't remember him at Wise, but I sure remember him at Mount St. Mary's. We knew he was looking to [transfer] and knew he was good, so we said, 'Go get him.'”
The Bulldogs are 1-3 this winter, but Brooks and Golladay believe a difficult non-conference schedule, including an exhibition loss at Duke, one of the top-five programs in Division I, and early season struggles will pay dividends later in the year. Bowie State has also instituted a full-court press style of play, a departure from previous seasons when the team played at a slower pace.
“We'll take hits early and we'll be fine,” Brooks said. “The guys loved playing at Duke and it was a great experience for us since they didn't treat us like D-II Bowie State, they treated us like rival North Carolina. That game showed us that we can be good.”
A season after being the Bulldogs' primary facilitator, senior and Oxon Hill graduate Ray Gatling (20.5 ppg) has assumed a prominent scoring role along with classmate forward Carlos Smith (12.5 ppg).
“I asked Ray to be the point guard last year and he was as big for us as [2013 graduate Byron Westmorland] was, but with Westmorland gone, we need Ray to score now and he clearly — he did it in high school — can do that,” Brooks said. “There are a lot of guys in different roles and we are adjusting. Carlos went from a role, fill-in guy to the guy. Ray went from point to a scoring guard.”
A season removed from the NCAA tournament, expectations are high for Bowie State.
“We've started slow, just like last year, but we'll turn it around again,” Golladay said. “I see no reason why it won't happen.”