Ohio College Basketball Insider
At Denison, it’s hail to Dimonde
There were six seconds left when an Allegheny player quickly ran over to foul Denison forward Dimonde Hale in order to stop the clock and extend the game.
The Big Red led 63-61, and it was up to Hale to lock up the victory.
On the surface, it was solid strategy by Allegheny. In four seasons with Denison, Hale has been hit-and-miss at the free- throw line. He sometimes was substituted for in the closing minutes out of fear that he’d be fouled intentionally.
This time, Hale made both ends of the one-and-one in a 65-61 victory.
Hale, a 6-foot-4 senior center from Northland, was elated.
“The funny story is that we were up two and Allegheny was denying the ball to everybody on our team except me,” Hale said. “I looked around and I was the only guy open. My defender was on the other side of the court. My coach (Bob Ghiloni) said, ‘Well, go ahead and get the ball.’ Before, I’d be off the court. This year, they have the confidence in me. I knocked down the shots.”
Hale is shooting 69.3 percent from the free-throw line. He averaged 57.1 percent as a junior and 58.7 as a sophomore.
“I’ve worked really hard on this,” he said. “I’m proud of this. I’m much improved. I want to get it up even higher.”
The remarkable aspect is that Hale has learned to shoot left-handed because of injuries to his right wrist and shoulder.
The bigger news is the push Hale is making for North Coast Athletic Conference player-of-the- year honors. He leads the league in scoring (16.6) with Devone McLeod of Allegheny, is fifth in rebounding (7.8) and eighth in field-goal percentage (51.5) despite playing for a young team that is 5-12.
“It has been really tough, I can’t lie,” Hale said. “Teams are making it hard on me. I’m seeing double-teams to keep me from getting the ball. It’s important for me to score this year more than last year. I’ve had to do a lot of film work. It has been a lot of determination. My coaches have been a big help. My teammates are starting to open things up for me. It has been a team effort.”
Player-of-the-year talk, Hale said, is premature.
“I’ve been told about that, but I haven’t thought about it much,” he said. “My focus is on the team and leading these young guys. We have to pull this together. We have a chance to start winning some games. If I get player of the year, that would be great. If not, fine.”
Capital picking up the pieces
Capital won the Ohio Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships last season with impressive precision, especially at the end of games.
The Crusaders found out what life is like on the other side when point guard Jacob Owens made a three-pointer off the backboard at the buzzer to give Marietta a 69-68 victory last Wednesday in the Capital Center.
The Pioneers scored on their final six possessions.
Capital’s week of misery continued with a 79-67 loss at Baldwin Wallace on Saturday.
Marietta (9-1) leads the OAC. B-W and Capital are one game behind at 8-2.
“We had a rough week,” Crusaders coach Damon Goodwin said. “That three-pointer by Marietta didn’t lose the game. As a coach, you look back on those last six Marietta possessions and think you have to find a way to get one stop. We didn’t.”
Capital has eight conference games remaining, including rematches against Marietta and B-W. The next four games are against Heidelberg at home, Mount Union and Wilmington away and at home against John Carroll.
“We’re in a situation where we have to start winning games and give ourselves a chance,” Goodwin said. “We’re trying to hang in there. We compete. We have good players. Every team goes through peaks and valleys, and we just had a valley.”
Ohio University’s Keely ‘knocks them down’
Ohio University senior forward Reggie Keely had a hot hand before making all nine of his field- goal attempts in a victory over Toledo on Saturday. He scored a career-high 24 points.
Keely is shooting 68.4 percent (80 for 117) for the season, but is not in the NCAA national rankings because the minimum requirement is five made baskets per game. He is averaging 4.4 baskets.
“Reggie is catching the ball really well,” forward Ivo Baltic said. “Everybody on the team has a lot of confidence in him. He knocks them down.”
Coach Jim Christian has seen the work Keely is putting in.
“I’m not surprised when Reggie hits jump shots because I see him in here every day before practice shooting the ball,” he said. “We have to get everybody buying into that. You can’t be satisfied doing what you’re doing, especially now (in conference play).”