By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIS (CBS) — The nation’s leading shot blocker in all of Division II men’s basketball calls Northeast Philadelphia home these days.
Holy Family University redshirt senior Rickie Crews has rejected 90 shots through 22 games this season and that’s good for a 4.1 average per game, half a block better than the next closest guy on the list.
The Deptford, New Jersey native’s success is even more impressive when you consider it comes after an entire season lost to a broken wrist. He suffered the injury in a exhibition game just prior to the start of the 2010-2011 regular season.
“I kind of went to the hospital just to get x-rays and I was just thinking it was a sprained wrist or something like that, something minor,” Crews says. “Before you know I was calling up my parents, I needed emergency surgery and they told me up front it’s going to take 4-6 months to heal. And of course basketball season’s not that long so I knew I would be out for the season.”
Crews says dealing with the injury was tough, but he stayed focused on getting back in action.
“It was actually my left hand, so I was able to work on my right hand. So I was kind of able to stay physically active. But mentally, basketball is all about instincts and it’s all about knowing where you’re at, timing. So when I started playing again I had to get my instincts back, just knowing when to do things, when not to do things and just have better court awareness and that definitely takes some time to adjust to.”
An athletic forward who measures in at 6-9, Crews has had some huge nights on the defensive end this season. He blocked ten shots on February 9th against the University of the Sciences (that’s a school record) and he has a couple of nine-block performance on his resume this season as well. He talks about his skill in guarding the basket.
“More of a natural reaction. The main goal is, once guys challenge you, you want to prevent them from scoring. In our program one of the things we try and do is play defense and it’s going to happen when guys get down the lane and they’re going to try and get lay-ups and stuff like that. So with me being down there, I just try and use my height and use some of my instincts to make the best play at the ball that I can.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon interview Ricky Crews:
While his shot blocking numbers are the biggest head turner, Crews is by no means simply a rim protector. He is scoring 12 points a game while shooting 49% from the field. He is also third on the team in rebounding at just a shade under seven boards a contest.
Crews and Holy Family return to the court tonight to visit Wilmington University.