CHARLIE BERGMANN: Next Level: Wire, Pride Hoop It Up in D-I
As conference play gets underway, Pinecrest graduates Adam Wire of Cornell and Tramaine Pride of UNC-Charlotte, are in the thick of the madness Division I basketball becomes at this time of the year.
Wire, a sophomore, saw action on Saturday in New York City as Cornell began the defense of its 2008 Ivy League title with a victory over Columbia.
The former all-conference forward for the Patriots was an observer from the bench most of the time as a freshman during last season's journey to a berth in the NCAA tournament. Cornell won a school-record 22 games, roaring through the Ivy League with a 14-0 mark, before falling 77-53 to Stanford in the first round.
A 6-5 forward, Wire saw action in 11 games, including late minutes against Stanford and at Cameron Indoor Stadium where the Big Red lost to Duke in January.
Coach Steve Donahue's squad returned all five starters from a year ago, including four that earned first or second team all-Ivy honors.
But this time around, Wire is playing a much bigger role. Through the Columbia game, he is averaging 18 minutes of playing time, seventh on the team. He leads the Big Red in steals and offensive rebounds while averaging 3.1 points per game.
The son of Mike and Cheryl Wire was the leading rebounder for his team in games at Minnesota, St. Joseph's and Quinnipiac.
Cornell assistant coach Nat Graham watched Wire put together a 16 point, 19 rebound, seven steals, four assists and four block performance during a Mid-Southeastern Conference tournament game in 2007. Now he is seeing him display that skill-set at the college level.
"Adam has been doing what we thought he could do when we recruited him," Graham says. "He can guard a variety of guys. There have been times he's been guarding point guards, post players and everybody else in between.
"He's one of those guys when the ball hits his hands, he usually has it."
Graham feels Wire has been deferring some open shots, passing the ball to teammates instead, but thinks the scoring part of his game will come around. He has been connecting on half of his shots from the field while making 66 percent of his free throws.
"We've got a lot of guys that can score," the coach says.
Cornell is 11-6 overall this season, including losses at eighth-ranked Syracuse (AP poll) and No. 18 Minnesota.
Wire played only one complete varsity season at Pinecrest after moving to Southern Pines from Wisconsin late in his junior year. He and Pride were teammates only briefly when Wire dressed with the varsity for the final two games of the 2006 season.
The second-to-last game of that season was one of Pride's finest. He scored nine of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as Pinecrest overcame a 24-point deficit in the final 10 minutes of the game to defeat E.E. Smith in the first round of the state playoffs.
The 6-3 forward walked on to the basketball team at UNC-Charlotte this season as a sophomore. He saw his first action last week in a home game against Tulsa, grabbing a rebound and making a free throw.
He is the son of Sherman Pride and Tina Lambert. Sherman was an all-conference player for Pinecrest in 1987 before going on to play college ball at Murray State and Fayetteville State. He was on hand for his son's college debut.
"It was exciting to watch him play," Sherman Pride says. "I was probably more nervous than he was."
The elder Pride is a social worker in Charlotte. He describes his son as a bit of a late bloomer athletically, but a hard worker with a high basketball IQ.
"Tramaine has always been gifted academically," he says. "I always tell him a lot of guys have talent, but a lot of guys don't play hard. They don't have the work ethic. I tell him to play hard and have fun. Nothing beats playing hard."
The 49ers take an overall record of 5-11, and an 0-4 mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference, into tonight's home game against Massachusetts.
Charlie Bergmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. com.
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