Edgewood duo dynamic again on court Boys basketball: Fresh off a state championship season, co-captains Mike Griffin and Keith Winder are again proving nearly unstoppable for the unbeaten and ninth-ranked Rams.

January 21, 1998|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Mike Griffin and Keith Winder possess two distinct playing styles on Edgewood's basketball team, but they strive to keep everything about their relationship equal. And appropriately, that includes being team captains, as the ninth-ranked Rams are likely to go as far as their standout guards can take them.

"Our team is unique in that we don't hold a player vote to pick team captains," Edgewood coach Bob Slagle said. "It's a natural evolution. It's assumed that the seniors who have established their leadership will have that role, and Mike and Keith have done that."

As Edgewood's top two scorers, Griffin and Winder have fueled the Rams to better things and have done so in impressive fashion. The duo is averaging a combined 45.4 points a game this season for the unbeaten Rams (10-0), seven points more than a year ago, when they led Edgewood to the state Class 1A title.

Add Griffin's assist totals (155) over the past 38 games and Winder's tremendous defense and clearly the Rams have one of the best tandems in the metro area.

"Winning a state title last year just gave Keith and me more confidence coming into this season," said Griffin, who set a single-season school record with 577 points last season and averages 22.9 points this season. "We did it once, so maybe we can do it again."

Slagle said, "They both have the mentality that allows them to know they can succeed."

While Griffin is the better long-range shooter and Winder is at his best scoring off the dribble, they have an understanding that they're both at their peak when sharing the load.

"Other people like to think we are competing with each other to see who can score more, but I look at it as we're both just trying to win," said Winder, a 6-foot guard who has a 22.5 scoring average and had 88 steals last season.

"Our offense runs on what the other team's defense gives us. We try not to set up," Griffin said.

The predicament in which Edgewood's opponents find themselves is trying to decide which one of them to concentrate on. The twosome has seen every kind of defense, from matchup zones to man-to-man, yet nothing has worked to slow them down.

"We have not found one [defense] for a while that works, as was shown in our record last year [24-4] and so far this year," Slagle said. "A man-to-man leaves Mike open on the wing and if the outside shot is not there, Keith can drive to the basket. It's really the best of both worlds."

Which brings up an interesting question: Which of the two is more likely to take a last-second shot? Both players paused before Winder said, "The ball has to go to Mike. A defense will probably think I'm going to drive to the basket, so when two defenders collapse on me, Mike will be open on the wing."

Whether it was playing pick-up games while growing up in Edgewood or attending basketball camps in the summer, Griffin always has shown a natural ability to score. Winder didn't get serious about basketball until the seventh grade, but by then he had the quickness a good scorer needs and playing with older kids didn't sway his confidence in his shot.

As third-year varsity players, both Griffin's and Winder's improvement has been about more than just numbers. Griffin is a much better defender than he was as a sophomore starter two years ago, and Winder has sharpened his passing skills. And their mere presence on the court has lessened the pressure on four new faces on the Edgewood roster.

"The statistics are nice but the fact is you still have to play the games," Winder said. "We see it as the more we do, the more we're doing something to help the team."

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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