There’s silence because of Glenn Patterson’s quiet demeanor, and there’s silence because of pain.
The Elizabeth City State basketball player has pain for an excuse right now.
“My wisdom teeth are throbbing, and I had my parents schedule an appointment to get them taken out next week,” said Patterson, holding a burgundy rag around his face to ease the pain. “It’s the worst, because you can’t sleep. And in the dorm, people want to stop and talk to you, and it becomes irritating.
“You try to tell them your teeth are hurting, but they keep wanting to talk and ask questions.”
Questions and concerns about the sophomore’s game are hard to find. The pain is lately turned onto opponents trying to guard him on the perimeter.
Dubbed a “silent killer” by ECSU coach Shawn Walker, the 5-9 guard leads the Vikings in 3-point shooting percentage at 42 percent, going 28-for-66 this season. It’s a 10 percent uptick from his freshman year, when his steady play earned him a spot on the CIAA All-Rookie Team.
Patterson is also third on the team in minutes played and points, and credits his improvement to another season learning at the college level.
“I feel like I’ve become more confident, and it’s easier this year to score,” Patterson said. “It was difficult to create last year, and now I’ve learned extra steps to beat my defender where you don’t have to work as hard.
I was using everything I had to score last year, but now you’re in the lead, and rookies talk about it’s a different level
when they first get there. I noticed last year my percentage wasn’t as good, and I was taking a lot of forced shots. This year a lot of them have been clear, and I’ve been knocking them down.”
To create such space for open shots comes different to Patterson, who said he works around his smaller size with speed, strength and smarts, traits he learned from his father, who coached him at Red Springs High School.
With the Red Devils, he led them to the 1A Eastern Regional Final in 2011, beating local school Camden in the process.
It’s not uncommon for the 182-pound Patterson to battle with guards in the CIAA at 6-2 or bigger, and he’s adjusted his shot to make for changes he rarely worried about while averaging 21.4 points a game at Red Springs, where he was also salutatorian of his class.
“You have to have a quicker release now,” Patterson said. “We work on coming off of screens and being ready to shoot. Now I come off already low, so as soon as I catch the ball, I can explode up.
“Last year I was coming off of screens standing up, so then I had to bend down to get in my stance and shoot. That took longer and defenders could block my shot.”
His reliability as backup point guard is important for the Vikings, but Walker knows Patterson’s game is making shots off the dribble.
“Shooting the ball is his best attribute,” Walker said. “Glenn is a basketball player, he’s not a 1 or a 2, he’s probably better served off the ball most of the time, but he’s filled in at point guard quite a bit. He’s certainly a guy who catches the ball and makes plays at the basket.
“He brings that kind of balance to our team. He’s not a vocal leader in any capacity, he kind of leads by example. He doesn’t talk too much, he’s a quiet kid.”
When he was more vocal, it didn’t turn out so well. Patterson got a technical for losing his temper in one high school game that Red Springs wound up losing. His father pointed to him for the defeat.
“We lost the game, and he kind of blamed it on me,” Patterson said. “It’s different because after we’re fussing within the locker room, I have to go home and hear it, too. So I never hear the end of it.”
That’s made Patterson focus more on having a low-key mentality while proving to taller guards he’s just as capable of making plays.
He had to switch to guarding a 6-6 player during one defensive set of ECSU’s game at Winston-Salem State Monday, and the Rams player immediately challenged Patterson in the post.
Despite the nine-inch difference, the sophomore stood his ground and caused an offensive foul.
He shook off the physicality, just like he said he will shake off the constant pain from his wisdom teeth and keep to himself. At least that’s what he wants to do while going from classes back to his room at Viking Village.
“Yeah, but they still want to talk,” Patterson said.