Dillinger’s ‘D’ a key for UH vs. Fresno
STORY SUMMARY »
Jared Dillinger's development on defense has come with knowing when to pick his spots to take chances.
Fresno State (9-9, 1-3 WAC) at Hawaii (5-10, 1-2)
» Tomorrow, 7:05 p.m.
» Stan Sheriff Center
» TV: KFVE Ch. 5
» Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
"I've been smarter, I haven't gambled as much," the senior for the Hawaii basketball team said. "Coach really got on me about that, just playing good solid D."
Defense helped spark a win Monday. Dillinger and the Rainbow Warriors' perimeter players will again be tested tomorrow when a Fresno State team with an affinity for the 3-point shot visits the Stan Sheriff Center.
The finale of the 'Bows' three-game homestand will include a halftime ceremony honoring UH's WAC champion football, women's volleyball and soccer teams. Each fan will receive a poster commemorating the 2007 football season.
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Although Jared Dillinger's scoring has dipped a bit lately, being able to prevent a bucket can be equally pivotal.
Such was the case Monday night, when Dillinger asked for the key defensive assignment in the final seconds of the basketball game and helped seal a one-point win over San Jose State.
With Fresno State visiting the Stan Sheriff Center tomorrow, the senior is preparing for another busy night on the defensive end of the court.
Perimeter defense figures to be a key for the Rainbows (6-10, 2-2 Western Athletic Conference) as they close their three-game home stand against a Fresno State team that isn't shy about flinging up long-range shots.
"It's a lot of tracking, a lot of running through screens," Dillinger said of defending the Bulldogs, who hoist more than 25 3-pointers per game. "It'll definitely be a challenge."
Dillinger enters tomorrow's game averaging 9.1 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field. On the other end of the court, UH coach Bob Nash said the 6-foot-5 swingman has emerged as one of the Rainbows' top on-ball defenders along with freshman guard Kareem Nitoto, and ranks second on the team with 17 steals.
"He takes pride in his game, period," Nash said. "Because of his athleticism, his length and quickness he fits into that mold where he can guard multiple positions.
"He's more sound in his fundamentals, staying down in his stance, knowing where the ball is and where he should be in relationship to the ball."
Dillinger's scoring average dropped under double digits after scoring two points in each of the last two games. He's 2-for-11 during the home stand and has missed his last six 3-point attempts.
He knows there's only one way out of a slump.
"You just have to keep shooting through that," he said. "The coaches talked to me about that -- you can't stop shooting. It's just something everyone goes through. I just have to keep working at practice and getting shots up and it'll come."
As he works out his shot while looking for his opportunities within the offense, Dillinger has kept his engine revving high on defense.
"You're pumped up a little more on the defensive side saying, 'You can't hit a shot, you need to do something, so play some good D,' " Dillinger said.
Dillinger delivered on defense in UH's last win, harassing SJSU's DaShawn Wright on the Spartans' final possession and grabbing the rebound with UH protecting a slim lead.
"At the end of the game I was just telling Coach, 'Put me in, I can stop him, I'll do it,' " Dillinger said. "They gave me the opportunity and it worked out well for the team. I'm glad we got the win -- that's the most important thing."
While a single play like the one at the end of Monday's game might put a particular player in the spotlight, the Rainbows have been leaning on a philosophy of building individual efforts into team success.
"It's about not worrying about credit, just doing your job to the best of your ability," Nash said. "That's what he wanted to do to help the team win."
For the second straight Saturday, the Rainbows will face a team coming off a loss at San Jose State.
Fresno State (9-9, 2-2) went 5-for-27 from 3-point range in a 69-65 loss to the Spartans last night at The Event Center in San Jose.
Last weekend, UH caught Nevada coming off a defeat against San Jose State and suffered a 77-59 loss to open the homestand.