Jan. 10, 2014
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
by Jeffrey Graham, writer, The Western Front
For more Western Front stories visit westernfrontonline.net - Twice-weekly student newspaper of Western Washington University
Joey Schreiber sat in the front of the plane as the intercom crackled to life.
"Welcome to Las Vegas! We hope you enjoyed your flight and would like to give a good luck and special welcome to the Western Washington men's basketball team. And we want to wish team manager Joey Schreiber a happy sweet 16th birthday."
Schreiber, a 19-year-old redshirt freshman, turned around to a chorus of applause and birthday greetings, color rushing to his cheeks. Such teasing is the life of a rising freshman star.
"He is just so cool all the time, we wanted to see him sweat a little bit," senior guard Richard Woodworth said.
Woodworth, the 'Iceman' himself, said Schreiber doesn't have a nickname yet, but will earn one soon enough as he continues to prove himself on the court.
Schreiber is one of the youngest players on the Western men's basketball squad, but has quickly established himself as one of the top contributors.
Schreiber, a forward, said he is a scorer by nature, preferring to pepper the basket from the perimeter of the 3-point arc. His 151 points through 12 games this season is good for third on the team behind Woodward and senior center Austin Bragg.
During the third contest of the season, a game against BYU-Hawaii, Western was down by 19 points with 14 minutes to go in the second half. Schreiber came in and scored 11 points in a 20-0 run to pull the Vikings permanently into the lead.
Roommate and fellow teammate Robert Oliver was certain Western would have come up short if Schreiber hadn't come into the game.
"That was Joey's coming-out party," Oliver said. "I was so happy for him because he had been working really hard and hadn't really had the chance to break through yet."
Schreiber has started every game since.
Head coach Tony Dominguez said Schreiber established himself early in practices last season and is a cerebral player who knows when to shoot and when to pass. Dominguez has confidence in the young Schreiber because of the way Schreiber steps up in big- game situations, like he did in the BYU Hawaii game.
"Lots of players have talent, but he can take that talent, harness it and do well in big games," Dominguez said.
Schreiber's dad, Joe Schreiber, has tried to make it to every one of Joey's games. He said it continues the supporting role he has taken in Schreiber's basketball career since stepping in as a coach for a YMCA basketball group when Joey was four years old.
He remembers five-year-old Joey shooting a small basketball on a regulation-sized basketball hoop at a neighbor's house in his hometown Renton, Wash. Joe Schreiber said the challenge is what kept Joey going back to shoot, a characteristic of Joey's competitive and persistent nature that has continued to linger throughout his life.
"He has a natural ability, and when he went out there he just sort of expected to shoot it and it would go in or always dribble with ease," Joe Schreiber said. "Basketball is complex; it takes some skill and practice to get better."
Schreiber has been working on improving his defense to become a more complete player, Woodworth said. Early on in the season Schreiber was becoming frustrated when some of his shots weren't falling in. Woodworth told Schreiber the best thing to do while struggling offensively was to try to find other areas to help the team, like picking up the extra rebound or making the extra effort to block a shot.
Through the first six games of the season, Schreiber totaled 17 rebounds, 11 on defense and six on offense. Through the last six games, Schreiber has racked up 25 total rebounds, 16 on defense and nine on offense.
Woodworth said the forward position was going to be an uncertainty going into the season because of the amount of youth on the team. Stalwart forwards of the past like Zach Henifin and Paul Jones left big shoes to fill, but Schreiber has stepped up to continue the excellent production, Woodworth said.
Schreiber has filled in for other areas voided by Henifin as well. Henifin was the best Call of Duty player on the planet, Oliver said. Now Schreiber is picking up where Henifin left off, racking up buckets on the court and kills in the game: a sharp shooter through and through