Ricky Cadell grew up a point guard. It was all he knew as a young player in the Bronx. It was his position at St. Raymond’s, The Patterson School in North Carolina and the spot he was recruited to play at St. Francis College.
Two weeks ago that all changed. Terriers coach Brian Nash called Cadell and shooting guard Jamaal Womack into his office. He was flip-flopping them, moving the turnover prone Cadell to off guard, where his scorer instincts would be more valued, and handing point guard duties to Womack, a more sure ball handler whose shot wasn’t falling and who had started there as an underclassman.
“I wasn’t too happy,” Cadell said. “I like the ball in my hands at all times.”
The sophomore has a funny way of showing his displeasure. Since the move, Cadell has become the Terriers’ leading scorer, finishing in double digits in all four games, which has also coincided with leading scorer Kayode Ayeni being lost for the season after tearing his ACL. Cadwell scored 20 in St. Francis’s 73-62 victory over Monmouth Thursday night at Peter Aquilone Court in Brooklyn Heights that ended a five-game losing streak and improved its Northeast Conference record to 2-2.
“Basketball is all about confidence, and I have my confidence back,” Cadell said. “I’m excited about the rest of this year.”
The 6-foot-2 Cadell was the biggest reason the Terriers (4-10, 2-2 NEC) climbed out of a nine-point, first-half hole, but he wasn’t the only one to shine. Senior forward John Gooden scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds. Sophomore Rocco Rubino added 11 points off the bench and freshman wing Stefan Perunicic had nine.
The game changed, Nash said, late in the first half when St. Francis turned three offensive rebounds into eight points from Rubino, cutting the deficit to one, 29-28, at halftime.
“It was good to respond,” Gooden said.
With help from his teammates, Cadell took over after intermission. He gave St. Francis the lead for good early in the second half with two free throws and a 3-pointer from the left wing. His 25-foot bomb pushed the Terriers’ lead to seven, 41-34. Another trifecta halted Monmouth’s 6-0 run later and he put an exclamation point on the performance with his sixth 3-pointer, capping the clinching 10-2 run.
“He stepped up and made more plays than anybody and that’s why they won,” Monmouth coach Dave Calloway said.
Nash, in his fourth year, blamed himself for taking so long to figure out Cadell was better coming off the ball. Cadwell was committing close to five turnovers a game and struggling to find an even balance between distributing and finding enough shots for himself.
Cadell said there is less pressure since the move. He is more relaxed, more comfortable in his own skin as a scorer.
“He’s maturing, starting to come into his own,” Gooden said. “He’s become more aggressive.”
“It wasn’t that big of an adjustment,” Cadell said. “I’ve always liked shooting.”