Men's basketball seniors talk URI memories
University of Rhode Island basketball fans, if you've been to at least a few games this season, the following should sound all too familiar to you.
If you haven't, however, you can stop adjusting your glasses. You read that just right.
Any time the 6-foot-9 forward, senior Orion Outerbridge storms the court prior to a men's basketball game or makes one of his big plays that gets the crowd on it's feet (January's "thunder dunk" vs. Boston College anybody?) that is what you'll hear fellow senior and teammate guard Anthony Malhoit yelling from the sidelines to be heard by anyone within a 40-foot radius of him…even in the extremely loud and rowdy Thomas M. Ryan Center.
Coincidentally (but not) "YESSSOOOO" is also the single word both Outerbridge and Malhoit chose to describe one another.
If you don't know the pair, this may seem odd. Upon getting to know them, however, you'll find that there's truly no better way to describe them.
Basketball aside, the first thing out of anyone's mouth when asked what Outerbridge and Malhoit's personalities are like off the court will be, "They're definitely characters. They make everyone laugh." (I'm telling you, you'll get this answer nine out of 10 times…try it.)
While they're both quite the jokesters off the court, both Outerbridge and Malhoit are no joke when they're in the game.
Outerbridge said he did not actually start playing basketball until the summer after 8th grade, when he was about 15 years old. A friend of his urged him to start playing and to join a summer league which he was participating in merely because….he was tall. Outerbridge went with it and discovered that, not only was he talented at the game, he also loved to play.
Outerbridge played high school basketball at New Hampton School in New Hampshire. He was one of five New Hampton student-athletes on the 2007-08 roster to sign with an NCAA Division-1 basketball program. The New England Recruiting Report ranked him as the 11th best fifth-year prep player nationally.
Outerbridge has played his entire four-year college career at URI and celebrated his last home court appearance last night in a landslide win for Rhody over Fordham University, 78-58.
Outerbridge said his biggest inspiration while playing college ball is, and has always been, his family.
"I want to be able to take care of them. That's who I do this for," Outerbridge said. "My family has always been the first priority."
Teammates, managers and fans, as well as head coach Jim Baron, are all in agreement that Outerbridge is a team asset who will be missed in seasons to come.
"[Outerbridge] is a high energy guy," said Baron. "He can shoot the ball and he can score. This was probably one of the most memorable seniors nights for me as a coach. O really stepped up. He kept his head up and he stayed positive."
"Orion is the epitome of a leader," URI junior and men's basketball team manager Nathaniel Eskinazi said. "If I ever need advice with something about the team, he's the guy to go to."
Malhoit's start in basketball came a bit earlier than Outerbridge's, when he was about five years old. Malhoit said he played several sports growing up. In fact, I don't think there was a sport he didn't name. However, he ultimately chose basketball for two reasons, one of them being his biggest inspiration to play of them all: his great grandmother.
"She loved basketball," said Malhoit. "Huge Knicks fan."
Malhoit's second reasoning for sticking to basketball he gave with a smile. "I chose basketball because basketball is the best sport," said Malhoit, plain and simple.
Malhoit played two seasons at the University of Connecticut Avery Point prior to his career at URI. He averaged 24.7 points and 16.0 rebounds per game. He was ranked fourth in the country for scoring and second in rebounding in the NJCAA Division III level. He was also a two-time NJCAA Region 21 selection.
As a walk-on for the Rams, Malhoit knew he'd have to work hard and earn the chance to play.
"I expected to work hard and I expected to play," said Malhoit. "I wasn't arrogant, but confident. Everything I have, I earn."
Malhoit also celebrated his last home court appearance last night, owning the boards for the Rams, leading in points with 21 and pulling down nine rebounds.
"If I ever need to go to someone about anything, I can go to Malhoit," said Eskinazi. "He makes everyone laugh. He's just a big personality and we're all going to miss him."
Baron described Malhoit's last home performance as "tremendous."
"He was a walk on, and he worked very hard. He stepped up big time," said Baron. That's how he's been practicing, he plays hard. He shows up and he does a lot of little things."
As far as what the future holds for the two, for now, it is uncertain. Outerbridge said he will definitely continue to play basketball after graduation and is currently looking to play overseas. Malhoit said he is unsure if he will continue to play after receiving his URI diploma. However, he hopes to at least continue to work around the world of basketball.
Regardless of where they chose to go next, the two agreed they will each be taking away many things they deem invaluable from their experiences at URI, experiences they will miss, as well as their fellow team mates and other team members.
"You play with these guys, you practice with these guys, you eat with these guys and you travel with them," said Outerbridge. "Of course you have those bonding moments, and I'm gonna miss them."
Rhody fans will hear their last "YESSSOOOOO!" on Saturday, when the two will play their last game as Rams vs. the University of Massachusetts.
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