Don’t expect to see Matt Reid’s name flooding a box score.
His 2.6 points-per-game average is usually overshadowed by game-high scorers or players consistently pulling down double-digit rebounds.
“What Matt brings to the table you won’t find on a stat sheet,” said University of Puget Sound men’s basketball coach Justin Lunt.
Reid, a UPS senior and North Thurston High School product, has a different role.
“Where some guys you would call them shooters or scorers or guys who play on the block — my role is to be a defensive energy guy,” Reid said. “If I’m not able to get on the floor and make plays, I don’t have a job.”
The job Reid has carved out in four years of playing for UPS is simple enough — lead on the court, and make sure his teammates are in the right places.
And his straightforward direction in doing so earned him a nickname — “The General.”
“It kind of felt like it fit,” said Andre Lewis, Reid’s teammate and a Curtis High School and Tacoma Community College product. “He’s the drill leader, making sure we’re on task and doing what we need to do.”
In the six games Reid has started this season, the Loggers are 5-1.
“When he’s in the lineup, we tend to talk a lot more on defense and we tend to execute a lot more offensively,” Lunt said.
Lunt said a player like Reid is rare. He started all 27 games as a junior before coming off the bench for the first nine games of his senior season.
“Going from a junior and starting every single game to not starting as a senior until the (10th) game of the season, and never losing faith, hope or leadership –— he never pouted, it’s never been about him, and that’s Matt Reid,” Lunt said.
Reid settled in to the Loggers’ new fast-paced offensive scheme when UPS played then- top-ranked Augustana (Illinois) in their ninth game.
Coming off the bench to play 24 minutes, Reid handled a Sporting News’ preseason All-America selection, Hunter Hill — who averages 14.1 points per game. Reid held Hill to 1-of-3 shooting from the floor and three points.
Reid has started every game since.
“Matt just completely shut him down, and I think that was the turning point,” Lunt said. “Off we went, and he’s been playing really well ever since.”
Lunt said Reid has tuned his leadership on the court this season — still direct, still doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but has developed stronger relationships with teammates.
“He’s our biggest cheerleader and our biggest critic,” Lewis said.
Reid’s vocal nature on the court leads to production. When UPS played Trinity University (Texas) in November, Reid — off the bench — directed the Loggers back from a 87-79 deficit with two minutes, 28 seconds to play in overtime.
His steal with 27 seconds left capped a 8-0 run by UPS to send the game into a second overtime. The Loggers went on to win, 105-99.
“It’s not fun all the time, but when you do make those big plays, it’s well worth it,” Reid said. “It’s worth the effort and scrapes and bruises, especially when you start to inspire other guys. That’s what gets me excited is when we start to see other guys get on the floor and make plays.”
Reid, more or less, had the same role in high school — though he was expected to put up more points. He played under his father, Mike, who is a longtime assistant at North Thurston and was inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 2013.
“Growing up, I started to see the game from that perspective, as well as a player’s,” Reid said. “I enjoy when things flow and go well — not just for me, but for the team in general.”
He’s channeled coaching techniques, which Lunt noticed during the recruiting process.
“I knew out of high school he was very vocal, he was going to be a coach on the floor,” Lunt said. “That’s what we needed out of him, and that’s what he’s been.”
Reid said he’s at the stage in his basketball career where he primarily focuses on UPS (9-6, 4-2 Northwest Conference) winning games. He saw time in the NWC tournament championship game in 2014, when the Loggers watched 15th-ranked Whitworth slip away, 71-68.
“That was one of the most enjoyable experiences, that journey, that entire season from the start to the finish, that I’ve been a part of in my sports career,” Reid said. “Striving to get back to that point is huge motivation.”
So, he’ll just continue to play his role.
“I don’t think Matt’s the type of guy who really cares about the limelight or cares about acknowledgements or anything like that,” Lunt said. “He just wants to win.”