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When Edina scorer pulls up, he badly wants to win

01/22/2013, 5:09pm CST
By Star Tribune

Graham Woodward

With a three-pointer midway through Edina's 80-63 victory Thursday over St. Paul Highland Park, senior guard Graham Woodward became the school's career leading scorer.

Woodward, a slick 6-footer who is the epitome of the term "gym rat," nailed his average of 27 points in the game, giving him 1,369 career points through Monday.

It was Edina's sixth consecutive victory in a row and 10th in its past 11 games after an 0-4 start.

Staff writer Jim Paulsen spoke with Woodward about the milestone, his commitment to Penn State and how he considers his height to be an advantage.

Q: A lot was expected of this team this year. Why the slow start?

A: I think maybe expectations were a little high and we figured we'd be a great team. We might not have been ready to have a target on our backs. I think we're back on track now.

Q: How does it feel to be the school record-holder?

A: It's a great feeling to be able to say that I've scored more points than anyone in Edina history, but I couldn't say it without talking about my teammates and whoever I've played with. They've always supported everything I've done.

Q: A scholarship to play at Penn State. Why Happy Valley?

A: I knew the coaching staff had my best interests in mind. One of the keys of the recruiting process is that you need a coach who believes in you. I wanted to play at the highest level I could and the Big Ten is one of the best [leagues] in the country.

Q: At 6 feet, you have your work cut out for you in the Big Ten.

A: It will be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to that challenge.

Q: Do you consider your height a help or a hindrance?

A: I think it has helped. I've been a shorter player throughout my career. It's helped me develop an edge. I kind of play with a chip on my shoulder because there is the feeling that people might not take you seriously.

Q: What is your biggest asset?

A: I would say my toughness, my grit. It's not so much a skill as a mindset. I have always had the goal of being the best I can be and I've worked very hard to get there.

Q: A lot of players work hard. How are you different?

A: It's my demeanor. My attitude. It doesn't sound great, but when I play, I want to beat you bad. My competitive spirit won't let me lose to you. That's what sets me apart.

Q: You're known for your pull-up jumper and your ability to create your own shot. Talk about those skills.

A: The pull-up is something that was good for me early in my career and I've worked to make it great for me. Being able to create my own shot has been incredibly important. If I'm having trouble offensively, I can create a shot to help get me going.

Q: That knack around the basket -- some have it, some don't. Is that learned or natural?

A: That's something I was born with. I was blessed with that ability. But I've worked very hard to improve it.

Q: As a basketball junkie, is it really hard work if it's something you love?

A: You're right. It doesn't feel like work. Basketball is my true love and my passion. Being able to get up in the morning and play basketball is a gift. I'm not sure what I would do without basketball.

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