Recently thrust into the starting line up, Randy Foye is proving he belongs
by Adam Fleischer
Anyone who’s seen their share of tween television shows and movies knows that Homecoming doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes, the meanest girl is named queen or, in the case of Kelly Kapowski, a pimple pops up on your face.
Randy Foye dealt with a bit of a pimple when he returned to New Jersey in his homecoming Friday night to face the Nets. The Newark native played just 19 minutes, going three of seven from the floor to finish with six points and two assists in Washington’s two point win at the Izod Center. But his individual struggles couldn’t mask the excitement he showed from the bench as his back up, Earl Boykins, knocked down a game winning jumper with 0.4 seconds to go to deflate a Nets team that was seconds away from stringing together their first winning streak of the season.
It’s unlikely that anyone with the Wizards organization would be surprised by Foye’s spirits, even as he sat on the bench on a night where coach Flip Saunders played most of his starters more sparingly than usual. “The one thing about Randy is that he’s got an unbelievable attitude,” says Saunders. “He’ll do anything you ask him. You can get on him [and] he’ll accept criticism. He wants to do right and I think that’s a big positive right there.”
Acquired in the off-season via trade with the Timberwolves, Foye was supposed to help bring depth to a team that, when healthy and at full strength, seemed to be playoff contenders—on paper. Yet, that’s not how the season began, as Foye’s play and playing time were as inconsistent as his team’s wins. From the day after Thanksgiving until December 18—a string of eleven games—Foye never played more than fifteen minutes and scored in double figures only once. Similarly, the Wizards were losing games, many of them by small margins, and didn’t look like the playoff team that some had figured they were bound to be.
Then the team lost Gilbert Arenas for reasons that don’t need to again be spelled out, and Foye was placed in a starting role.
“I played with him last year, so I know what he’s capable of,” says Mike Miller, who came over with Foye during the summer, thinking back to Randy’s career high averages of 16.3 points and 4.3 assists per game for the woeful 2008-09 T’Wolves. “A lot of times, it’s about opportunity in this league, and he’s making the most of his.”
Foye stuck it out when the opportunities weren’t coming in the early going this season, and he’ll continue to work hard now that they’ve arrived.
“It’s definitely a different opportunity,” he says post game, getting dressed anxiously, not wanting to waste the little time he’ll have with family that has come out to see him. “I feel as though that I’ve been playing well. I can’t really try to do anything different. I just gotta go out there and play my game.”
And his game is?
“When he’s put into scoring mode,” says Saunders, without hesitation.
And you take advantage of that how?
“We can, but him being the point guard, he can’t be in that mode too much because it takes away the effectiveness of the other four guys. That’s the adjustment that he goes through a little bit right now.”
An adjustment, surely, but one for which he seems willing and ready. In addition to the right attitude, he’s got the right people leading the way.
“Flip is an unbelievable coach for me at this point in my career. They look at me as a Chauncey,” says the 6-4 Foye, referencing the former Finals MVP with whom he shares a similar style and frame—and now a coach. “Basically, take what the defensive gives you. If you drive and the defense stops you, then you pass the ball and they make you a distributor.”
Still, he seems most comfortable scoring and, when given the right opportunity—there’s that word again—he’s proven that he can do just that. In games where he has played at least twenty-five minutes this season (twenty of the Wizards’ forty five), Randy is averaging 17.5 per. Not bad.
His scoring abilities were never the question, though. It’s what the former seventh overall pick can do as a starting point guard in the NBA.
“When you first come into the League, you wanna prove to people that you belong, and sometimes that means that you think you have to score a lot,” says veteran forward Antawn Jamison. “But I think he’s been doing a great job as far as knowing when to score and knowing when to get everybody in their spots and facilitating the team, as well.”
Setting others up for success isn’t something that Randy leaves on the court when the game ends. That work carries over, in the form of The Randy Foye Foundation, to help a broader range of people. Foye lost both of his parents by age six, and understands the perils and temptations that can come hand and hand with growing up in an urban area. So he’s doing his part to help the youth succeed in whatever they do.
“Basically, we’re just helping kids in the inner city,” says Foye of the work of the foundation, as if it is less work than a natural inclination. “I’m just trying to show them that if they work hard, that they can do big things.”
Exhibit RF is a tangible way to show that indeed, they can.