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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Roberts becomes Statesman

Thursday, July 30, 2009

(Photo)
COLLEGE BOUND: Front row, from left are: Casey Roberts, Cody Roberts and Kelly Roberts; back row: Allen Woods and Joe McKinstry. Photo/Mullins
Anyone that has ever been on an extended road trip knows what hours of sitting behind a steering wheel can do to your physical and mental being.

You step out of the car and immediately want to fall over like a bunch of crumpled tin foil -- thankful just to be out of a moving vehicle.

But imagine stepping out of that same car after a day-long drive and then stepping directly onto the hardwood floor of a basketball court -- to play some hoops with a group of players who had simply been hanging out and chilling all day.

And to add a bit of extra pressure into the mix -- the way you play in this game may determine if you get a college scholarship or not.

For former Couch High standout Cody Roberts, the above scenario was apparently not much harder than getting up at the crack of dawn to toss hay bales or fix fence on the family farm before heading off to school.

After traveling from Oregon County, Mo., to Oskaloosa, Ia., on a recruiting visit, Roberts exited his car and then proceeded to show some of the players at William Penn University that playing a pick-up game after driving almost 440 miles was not such a big deal.

"For sitting in a car for eight hours and then getting out and going into a situation where you don't know anybody or anything about -- he played his rear-end off," said William Penn assistant coach Joe McKinstry. "He made some great baskets and really played hard as heck. That was impressive. To jump out of a car after an eight-hour drive and then play the way he did, that says a lot about the determination and the desire that he has."

That determination and desire also resulted in a scholarship to William Penn for Roberts, with the one visit being enough to convince him he had found a new home.

"On that trip up there, I got to know the coaches and the players," Roberts said. "I really liked the environment and really enjoyed being up there. It's a great place."

"His family is awesome and are great to deal with and be around," McKinstry said. "And that -- combined with his grades and his personality -- just seemed like a good fit for us. We're excited about the possibilities."

Roberts signed a letter of intent to play for the Statesmen July 23 in a ceremony inside the Couch High School Gymnasium.

The very same Couch High School Gymnasium where, over the course of the last two years, Roberts and his teammates rolled up their sleeves and went to work at getting Indian basketball back on track after a long spell of less-than-stellar seasons.

"The culture in our program, when I got here two years ago, was not near as good as it is right now. And Cody and the guys on the team the last few years are part of turning things around," said second-year Indian Head Coach Allen Woods. "Cody's junior season we went 13-13 and tied for the conference championship. That was the first non-losing season here since 1992. Last year, we went 17-11, and won the Koshkonong Tournament. That was the first winning season here since 1980. So, our culture has gone from one of disappointment to one of expecting to win. It takes an incredible group of kids with a great mindset and work ethic to be able to change that culture."

And such change does not come overnight, nor does it come without a ton of sweat and hard work.

"Cody told me when I got here (as head coach of the Indians) that he wanted to play college basketball," Woods said. "And I bet you that four out of the five days during the school year, we came in here to the gym every morning and worked on shooting and ball handling. And it takes dedication to do that every morning. Nowadays, it's easier for a kid to go somewhere and get a job and work than it is for him to come in the gym and work. Working at a job can be easier than coming in here and running and sweating and doing some of the things it takes to improve your game."

According to Woods, that same tenacity should serve Roberts well as a member of the William Penn University basketball squad.

"His work ethic is so good," he said. "They'll (WPU coaching staff) tell him what they want out of him and he'll work toward that goal and I think he'll do just fine. He's really worked on his shooting and his senior year he was a much better shooter than he was his junior year. But his biggest attribute is the fact that he just plays so hard. And a lot of that comes from the upbringing of his family and what they expect. It's a work ethic that's developed over time."

Roberts averaged 14 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game during his senior year at Couch.

Although William Penn University is not exactly next door to Oregon County, the players and coaching staff have gotten familiar with one spot in the Show-Me state the past few years -- Point Lookout (Branson) -- home of the NAIA Division II National Tournament.

"We've had a lot of success the last four or five years. The year before last we went 28-6 and the year before that 25-9, and both years were capped by trips to the national tournament in Branson," said McKinstry. "And last year we went 22-10 but missed the tournament. And 22-10 is great, but we're trying to get back to the tournament, back to where we were a couple of years ago. It's not any fun missing that trip to Branson when March rolls around."



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