orthern Colorado redshirt-sophomore forward Emmanuel Addo can make the game of basketball look easy—especially after a recent practice, when the 6-foot-7, 220-pound big man stepped out beyond the threepoint line and sank five straight shots. With each shot made, Addo’s smile widened as he chirped back and forth with teammates. By the time the fourth shot went down, he was happily teasing two of the Bears’ threepoint specialists, Paul Garnica and Tate Unruh. Needless to say, neither of those players stands quite as tall as Addo nor spends a majority of their time banging bodies in the paint. And although his combination of skills—deft touch around the rim; deep shooting range that sometimes leave teammates in awe—makes the game look for Addo, his life up to this point has been anything but. Addo’s story begins in Toronto, Ontario, where he was born to parents Christian and Margaret. He spent his first three years in this world living in the inner-cities of Toronto before his parents made the decision it would be better for Emmanuel to move to Ghana, Africa, to be with his family and become steeped in his family history. So Addo lived for seven years with his grandparents and
other family in a village in Ghana. While there, he spent most of his time playing soccer but also began laying groundwork for his love of basketball. “When I was younger my dad was really a sports fanatic,” Addo says, “and I remember watching [Chicago] CONTINUED ON PAGE 40
YEAR RECORD PCT. 1974-75 4-1 1975-76 8-3 1976-77 6-3 1977-78 9-5 1978-79 5-6 1979-80 6-5 1980-81 4-7 1981-82 9-2 1982-83 7-5 1983-84 3-8 1984-85 13-1 1985-86 9-5 1986-87 10-2 1987-88 10-3 1988-89 15-2 1989-90 7-6 1990-91 2-10 1991-92 12-4 1992-93 8-5 1993-94 6-7 1994-95 7-6 1995-96 5-7 1996-97 5-8 1997-98 10-3 1998-99 6-6 1999-00 5-7 2000-01 7-5 2001-02 9-3 2002-03 5-6 2003-04 4-5 2004-05 7-5 2005-06 5-7 2006-07 3-9 2007-08 9-4 2008-09 10-4 2009-10 12-1 2010-11 14-0 2011-12 0-1 38 seasons 256-132
.800 .727 .667 .643 .455 .545 .364 .818 .583 .273 .929 .643 .833 .769 .882 .538 .167 .750 .615 .462 .538 .417 .385 .769 .500 .417 .583 .750 .455 .444 .583 .417 .250 .692 .714 .923 1.000 .000 .660
Located on Northern Colorado’s west campus, ButlerHancock Sports Pavilion serves as “The Home of the Bears.” Named for longtime Northern Colorado coaches Pete Butler and John Hancock, Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion first opened as “Butler-Hancock Hall” on Feb. 4, 1975, with a women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader. The Northern Colorado women played Wyoming, while the men played host to Air Force. The building’s name was changed to “Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion” during the 2004-05 school year and remains home for Northern Colorado’s men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as its volleyball and wrestling teams. The building has undergone impressive renovations during the last decade, including in 2006, when, as part of a $16 million dollar student-fee referendum, Butler-Hancock received a much needed makeover. New chairback seats were installed throughout, a new sound system and message and scoreboard center were added, as were enovated restrooms, an onsite ticket center and improved entry points. Butler-Hancock’s official seating capacity used to be 4,500 but the renovations in 2006-07 brought that down to 2,992, creating a much more intimate feeling for spectators. Northern Colorado Men’s Basketball has experienced a pretty sizeable homecourt advantage inside ButlerHancock’s brick walls and are well over .500 (chart at left)
at home since it opened in 1975. That home winning tradition has continued since 2007, when the Bears began playing at the NCAA Division I level, too. After struggling in its inaugural season at Division I, Northern Colorado has strung together five straight winning seasons at home, including last year, when the Bears finished 14-0 for just the third undefeated season in school history. Northern Colorado entered the 2011-12 season with a 256-132 record at Butler-Hancock in 38 seasons and with a mark of 37-6 since the beginning of the 2008 season. The biggest “names” to play in Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in the last decade include Oregon State (2006), San Diego State (2008) and New Mexico State (2011). Butler-Hancock has been the site of numerous memorable events in its history, including the 2011 Big Sky Conference Men’s Basketball Championship, which was won by the Bears and broadcast nationally on Altitude (semifinal) and ESPN2 (final). Butler-Hancock has also hosted NCAA regional volleyball tournaments in 1981, 1989, 1990 and 2002, a regional men’s basketball tournament in 1989 and a regional women’s basketball game in 1995. Butler-Hancock was also the site of the 1992, 1996 and 2001 NCAA Division II National Wrestling Championships, and in summer 2002, Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion hosted a men’s Olympic volleyball exhibition match between the United States and Korean national teams.
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4
Bulls games with him. You know, Michael Jordan was known everywhere—even in Africa.” Unfortunately, while Addo was in Ghana only the girls played basketball, so his games were limited to soccer fields, where he says he developed the footwork that he uses on the court to drive past opposing big men. Aside from his athletic development, though, Addo also took away something deeper from his time in Africa. “We lived in a village, and it was rough sometimes,” he says, “but people always found a reason to smile. For me, it was a good experience to see how other people, like people in my family, were living compared to the luxuries we have [in America]. Most people don’t have that there, but they still find reasons to smile and live. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.” At the age of 10, Addo moved from the villages of Ghana back to the big-city life of Toronto to live with his mother and father. In a developing pattern, though, the growing youngster didn’t stay in one place for long, as his mother Margaret decided it best that he move south to the United States to be with his uncle in Minneapolis. So Addo made the move to Eden Prairie, a suburb of Minneapolis, before his freshman year of high school. Once in Minnesota, he finally played his first organized basketball. As is the case with many big men, basketball seemed to choose Addo more than he chose it as he grew taller than many of the other teenagers around him. At 15, he played on his first AAU team and quickly developed a friendship with teammate Christian Shepley. But after spending just one year (his freshman season) in Eden Prairie, Addo was forced, once again, to take up roots when his uncle came upon financial difficulties. ButInstead of moving with his uncle to North Minneapolis, by some considered the inner city of Minneapolis, Addo approached to Shepley and his family looking for a port in the storm. And once Shepley’s father Bob heard about Addo’s situation, the orthopedic surgeon didn’t hesitate to invite the budding basketball star into his home in Northfield, a suburb just south of Minneapolis.
“[Moving to Northfield was a] culture shock because I was used to a place,” Addo says. “Even in Minneapolis, where I was at, there was a lot more diversity. When I went up to Northfield, it wasn’t like that at all. I had a lot of phone calls from my mom, saying I didn’t know if I could do it, but I stuck in there and was able to start playing basketball, and it brought me out of it.” Addo spent his entire high school career with the Shepleys, who watched as their adopted son developed into a highly sought after prep star. And even though it was clear his services were desired by many a college basketball coach, Addo—perhaps because of his alwayschanging childhood—felt it important to commit to a school before his senior year at Northfield. “I was really key on committing before my senior season started,” Addo says. “I am just a really cautious person, and I wanted to be secure. If I didn’t commit and something happened, like I broke my leg, I would be out of a college degree and a basketball scholarship.” When Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill, then an assistant coach, came calling, Addo says he was blown away by what the Bears program had to offer. “I think the coaching staff, specifically coach Hill, played a huge role [in my recruitment],” he says. “I feel like most of the schools I talked to were kind of sucking up and telling me what I wanted to hear. I feel like coach Hill, [former UNC] coach [Tad] Boyle and coach [Shawn] Ellis really kept it real for me. They told me I could come in here and play right away. But I would have to work hard.” It turned out that Addo would not play right away, as he redshirted his first year on campus gaining strength and basketball experience. During that first year, he developed a friendship with Unruh, a 6-4 swingman from Branson, Mo., who also spent his first season in Greeley as a redshirting, along with Addo. Unruh and Addo shared the same dorm room on campus, and a connection was quickly made. Throughout that redshirt season, if you stayed long enough after any Bears home game, you almost always would see the two friends emerge from the locker room to practice their shooting or play one-on-one—getting their time on the court after watching their teammates compete.
Now, as redshirt-sophomores, both are still roommates. “It’s kind of weird how we hit it off since we both come from such different backgrounds,” Unruh says. “We just hit it off and never looked back. I would definitely consider him one of my best friends.” Unruh gushes about Addo’s game, saying his touch and finesse play around the rim is what sets him apart from most other post players. “He’s so finesse and has great touch,” Unruh says. “A lot of big guys like that are big bruisers, like [redshirt sophomore center] Connor [Osborne], but Emmanuel almost plays like a guard in a big man’s body. When he gets into his full man’s body, he’s going to be a beast down there.” Last season, Addo was able to get on the court for the Bears and begin showing everybody his unique set of skills, size, and coordination that set him apart from most other Big Sky big men. In his first season, he averaged 15 minutes per game and shot an amazingly efficient 54 percent from the field as a freshman. He finished last year averaging six points and three rebounds per game as the Bears won their first Big Sky Conference championships and advanced to their first NCAA Tournament. Addo also showcased a tendency to play his best against the strongest competition, as perhaps his two best games came against power-conference foes Illinois (Big 10) and Arizona (Pac-12). The Wildcats advanced all the way to Elite Eight last season, but Addo wasn’t phased and tied a career-high with 14 points while shooting 10of-11 from the charity stripe. All the more impressive, his monster performance came against the second pick in last season’s NBA Draft: Derrick Williams. Addo then surpassed that mark last month with 15 points against Iowa State (Big 12). “Derrick Williams is somebody I really looked up to and admired,” Addo says. “I used that game as a measuring stick to see where I was at and if I could really compete with these guys I see on TV all the time. I felt like I held my own.” He definitely did and much of the credit should be directed at Bears assistant coach Ryan Martin, who has taken Addo under his wing since he was hired to Hill’s staff last summer. Martin, a former standout forward at Wichita State, is constantly communicating with Addo. During most practices, seldom is Addo on the sideline without Martin in his ear giving
a word of advice or encouragement. Initially, Martin says he struggled to instill the defensive intensity in Addo necessary for him to succeed at the NCAA Division I level, but he also says there’s no doubting Addo’s impressive skill set. “I honestly think he’s one of the most skilled kids I’ve ever been around, as far as touch and knowing how to score when he has the ball in his hands,” Martin says. “I think he has the chance to be really special if he decides that he wants to play hard all the time.” When asked, Martin quickly compares Addo to a teammate he had at Wichita State named J.T. Durley. Martin says both struggled to always play with their motor going full-tilt, but if Addo’s career path follows that of Durley, who graduated last year, the Bears are in for a treat. As a senior, Durley led the Shockers in scoring at 11 points per game and helped them win the 2011 NIT. Hill and the rest of the Northern Colorado coaching staff hopes that last season’s Big Sky regular-season and postseason championships and NCAA Tournament appearance will help fuel the fire for this year’s team, which returns just one starter in now-redshirt-junior Elliott Lloyd. A big part of Hill’s plans include Addo stepping into more of a leadership role on a young squad—a role that Addo, naturally softer-spoken, says he will definitely have to adjust to. “If you see me around, I’m kind of calm and quiet. I don’t really like to talk much, and Coach Hill has hinted that he wants me to talk more and be more of a leader,” Addo says. “I’m just trying to help these new guys out with stuff they don’t understand. We’ve all been there, where it seems like the college game is going a 100 miles an hour. I’m just trying to be a leader by example and just trying to help these new guys get acclimated to our offense and what we’re trying to do here.” Addo says he feels blessed to be a part of last season’s team, but qualifying for last season’s NCAA Tournament also makes him hungrier. There’s no doubt that he will do anything to get back to the top of the mountain. “I just want to win,” he says. “I just want to help out my team anyway I can. If it’s scoring, I have to score. If it’s defense, even though I [may] struggle [offensively], I have to play defense. Rebounding … anything I feel my team needs me to do, I’ll do. I feel like playing in the NCAA Tournament was a dream. I don’t want that to be it. I want to go back at least two or three more times.”
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