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Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Chasing More Than A Number



                         A Look Back At 2,000 Points...

By Harry Cummins

     On the first full weekend of this New Year and with only a smattering of loyalists on hand as witnesses, something significant is about to unfold in Portland, Oregon.

     Perhaps not the kind of tumult a "Hillary on The Summit of Everest" event would elicit but no less laudable will be the exact moment when Zach Richardson, an unassuming 6'0"small college basketball player from Multnomah University, reaches the rarefied air of 2,000 career points. At this writing, he is a mere 23 points away.  At present, he tops the Cascade Collegiate Conference in scoring at 20.3 ppg and is among the Top 25 sharpshooters in national statistics.

     Richardson will soon become the first player in Multnomah's NAIA era to ever reach such a coveted (2K) career milestone and only the 3rd Lion all-time to ever do so. Earlier this year, he also became the  school's all-time leader in 3 point baskets made.  That number, currently at 409, continues to climb and comes at a free-shooting school that once sank a record 38 3's in a single game and produced a back to back national scoring champion in the form of Justin Martin.

     The rocky ascent to 2K for a modern-day collegiate basketball player is fraught with missteps and the absence of guard rails.  COVID-19 outbreaks; debilitating injury; alluring transfer portals; eligibility issues; incongruous teammates, and pro ball opportunities for the elite few, all conspire to form a slippery slope.  Over the course of his career at Multnomah, Richardson has been sidelined a portion of every season by injury, capped by major foot surgery following last season. The 2020-21 season saw his team suffer thru the indignities of a calamitous 1-24 season in which Zach still averaged 27.6 ppg to finish runner-up in the national scoring chase. 

     Richardson's head coach at Multnomah, Curt Bickley, has experienced all the ups and downs of his senior leader's lengthy career.  The private conversations in Bickley's cramped office, Richardson's mammoth single game scoring explosions of 49, 50, and 51 points, along with shared moments of frustration and disappointment.  Ironically, Bickley will exit the sport this year, along with his cornerstone player, after 30 years of coaching, the last two decades spent at Multnomah.

     It is Bickley, perhaps, who can best explain the true worth of his 2K man armed with both staying power and scoring prowess:

     "In all my years of coaching, Zach Richardson best personifies what I have found to be the perfect basketball player" states Bickley.

     "He shows up each and every day with energy and respect. He puts in tons of time on his game on his own and is trustworthy in all things.  He will be a lifelong friend and I could not be more proud of a player or his accomplishment."

     Zach Richardson, a rapidly maturing man of deep spiritual convictions, knows one must also continue to til the soil to bring forth abundance. He already has several career options in place to utilize his advanced degree. He realizes it will always be about the work, a work in progress if you will, in which you never arrive and find no other place to go.

     After this weekend set of games with Walla Walla University and Lewis Clark State College, Multnomah will still have 13 games remaining in the 2022-23 regular season, with high hopes for a few more come post- season.   Plenty of opportunity remains in which to experience what every craftsman and seasoned coach already knows:

     The exclamation point to any game, career, or a life, should only be placed following the finishing touch.

     2,000 points ..and more importantly...still counting.




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