Basketball paves road to prosperity for UT senior captainWritten by Scott McKimmy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Scott McKimmy
TOLEDO FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
For UT team captain Anthony Byrd, basketball has always been an outlet. In his case, however, it also serves as an inlet, a pathway to his goal of becoming a business owner.
The senior guard described the game’s meaning to his life, as well as its role in determining the person he has become.
“Anytime something’s gone wrong in my life or even if things are going well, I play to get a chance to escape,” Byrd said. “I was glad when I came here last year, because I could have the gym to myself late at night. When I just want to be by myself, I can go in the gym and just shoot, just have the gym to myself. It’s relaxing; it’s like meditation.”
UT faces Florida International Nov. 24 in Miami. The Rockets fell in their first two games, 80-58 against Florida in the “swamp” and 81-65 against Xavier, also an away game. They opened and closed their preseason play with a 63-56 victory against St. Edward’s University, in Texas.
Byrd was one of two UT players to score in double digits, with 13 points, along with a team-high four steals. He said the exhibition game started “pretty rough” for the Rockets, but after trailing 26-24, second-half adjustments turned the tide.
“I kind of set a bad tone,” Byrd added. “I turned the ball over on the first possession of the game. So I feel like I put that on my shoulders; I was slapping the ball around in the first half. But after halftime, I felt like we came back, actually played good defense and we put them away in the second half.”
With a lingering groin injury and a hampered knee, Byrd relies more on his experience than his youth and vigor. He also believes in good decision making, having been told he is a “calming presence” on the court, plays a defense that’s “not too bad” and possesses a pretty good jump shot and three-point attempt.
While not the same player he was at Pepper Pike High School in a Cleveland suburb, Byrd has adapted to the intensity of collegiate play. Despite his mild physical ailments, the 6-foot-1, 165-pounder tries to make up for any shortcomings by being a “heady ballplayer.”
“In high school it came pretty natural, but once you get to that college level — that higher-up level — it’s not always about athleticism,” Byrd said. “You’ve got to take the game a bit more seriously, so I’ve been trying to make myself a better student of the game.”
His taste in clothing may merit kudos as well, having been taught by his mother the ins and outs of men’s fashion. He switched his major from communication to individualized studies after transferring as a walk-on from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., with plans for small-business ownership near the top of his agenda.
“I want to actually own my own clothing store at some point in my life, so I’m taking business and management classes to do so,” Byrd explained. “My teammates are always coming to me asking, ‘Hey, Byrd, what do you think about this outfit? What should I wear tonight?’”