Foyle Fulfills Expectations in Freshman Year at Colgate
HAMILTON, N.Y. (AP) _ Adonal Foyle never doubted he’d have an impact in his freshman season. He just never thought it would be so immediate or extend so far from the basketball court.
``It usually takes time. To come in as a freshman and dominate is very difficult. I think I have made a lot of progress,″ he said.
Foyle has made the basketball stuff look relatively easy. Heading into Saturday’s start of the Patriot League post-season tournament, Foyle finished the regular season ranked fourth nationally in rebounding (12.7) and third in blocked shots (5.0). He averaged 17.1 points and led Colgate (14-12, 11-3) to a share of the conference championship for a second straight year.
Off the court, Foyle has learned to deal with the unrelenting questions of why one of the nation’s most talented high school players would choose Colgate over Duke, Syracuse and other basketball powers.
Foyle said he’s just as bewildered by all the media attention.
``I thought it would be a story that most everybody would know by now,″ said Foyle, who admits he enjoys the spotlight and knows it can benefit him.
Even David Letterman wanted him to appear on his TV show. Foyle declined.
``It was at a very crucial time (in early February). I had a lot of papers. I was traveling on the road. I turned them down because I didn’t have any time. I told them to call me back when I have a break.″
Foyle’s presence has helped his university, too.
``Applications are up 25 percent from two years ago,″ said Colgate Athletic Director Mark Murphy. ``Alumni contributions have increased. And all my coaches tell me when they are out recruiting, people now know about Colgate. ... Corporations pay millions of dollars in advertising to do what Adonal has accomplished for us.″
Home attendance at Red Raider games has jumped from 1,400 last season to more than 2,800 this season. The same has been true on the road.
``He has been a real draw around the circuit. People want to see him,″ said Patriot League Executive Director Constance Hurlbut. ``All the attention he has gotten has been a real positive for the league ... and we think it is only going to grow over the next three years.″
A particularly agile 6-foot-10, Foyle has, not surprisingly, been a terror beneath the boards.
His 131 blocked shots as a freshman ranks behind only the 177 shots blocked by Shawn Bradley of Brigham Young in 1991 and the 169 blocks by Georgetown’s Alonzo Mourning in 1989.
In his first year, Foyle set or tied six Patriot League records and broke or tied eight Colgate records.
``The thing is, he’s a freshman,″ Bucknell coach Pat Flannery said, almost in disbelief, after Foyle had 21 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocked shots during Colgate’s crucial 76-59 conference win on Feb. 15. ``He’s a tremendous talent, no doubt about it.″
Colgate coach Jack Bruen still marvels at his star, who only took up basketball at age 15 at home on Union Island in the Caribbean.
``He can play like a man possessed. He can take over a game,″ he said.
Bruen, in fact, criticized his perimeter-oriented team for not getting Foyle the ball enough. The team was beaten up early in this season, losing to all five ranked teams on its schedule, but it started to hit its stride when the Patriot League season began.
True to his nature, Foyle has not complained about not getting the ball enough. He has been too busy learning.
``I’m pleased with my progress. It shows up most, probably, in my offensive game,″ said Foyle, who shot 55 percent from the field in the regular season. ``I am more confident in my offensive game. I am more confident in taking the ball to the basket.″
The weakness in Foyle’s game is foul shooting. He went to the line 162 times this season, but converted only 53 percent (86) of his chances.
``I have to do a better job at the foul line, and I’m working on that a lot. I try not to think about it, or worry too much about it. But it is a sore spot in my game,″ Foyle said.
``That’s been frustrating because I can do almost everything else well. This is just all mental. You can’t be aggressive, you have to be relaxed, which is contrary to what an athlete’s instincts are.″
One area that has surprised Bruen, as well as opposing coaches, is Foyle’s ability to be such a defensive force while avoiding foul trouble. He averaged 2.5 fouls a game and was disqualified only once all season.
``They think that they can get me in foul trouble because I get up there. But I am very patient. I just let them come to me,″ he said.
Foyle has been unaltered by all the fuss, said Jay Mandle, the Colgate economics professor who discovered him in the Caribbean and who has since become his guardian.
``All this attention has not affected his attitude about himself. He is still the same humble, good kid he was before,″ Mandle said.
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