Diogu Completes Roller Coaster Rookie Season

His 2005-06 campaign may have had its ups and downs, but these days during this young off-season, Ike Diogu is in his comfort zone. Devils Digest caught up with the ex-Sun Devil great who is back in Tempe, as he reflected on his inaugural season in the pros.

Due to a pre-season hand injury, Ike Diogu played in 69 games for the Golden State Warriors and started in 14 of those contests. During the season, the forward averaged 7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 15 minutes per game. He achieved his career-high 27 points against the Detroit Pistons, and his 52.4% shooting from the field ranked 12th in the league.

"It was all right," he said of his rookie NBA season. "As I got more playing time I felt that I played better. I always have high expectations for myself and I'm confident in my abilities. Things started off rocky because I was injured, but got better when I started. When I was on the bench, things kinda went up and down from there. It didn't hurt my confidence, but it's an adjustment going from a starter to being on the bench. It's just something that you have to get used to. But I think I showed that I that I can play in this league."

The former Arizona State standout certainly finished on a very strong and encouraging note. Each of the last seven games of the season, much like his entire college career, Diogu scored in double digits. During those seven contests, he averaged 16 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. "When I was the bench, when I was injured or healthy, I got to learn what the coaches wanted me to do when I'm on the floor," stated Diogu. "It definitely helped me a lot. I don't like to make excuses, but that injury was hard on me. It happened during the pre-season where you afford to make mistake because it doesn't count in your season record. So in that aspect my injury was tough because I was out most of the pre-season, and I was learning the game and making mistakes during the regular season."

Diogu was part of a struggling Warriors squad, which started out the season as one of the hottest teams in the league, just to fade fairly early in the year and ultimately get shut out of post-season play. Nevertheless, the forward does recognize the positives of playing for Golden State. "It was a good situation playing with players like Troy Murphy, Baron Davis and Jason Richardson that were always helping you out," he explained. "Playing for the Warriors presented good opportunities for me."

Living in Northern California also seemed to agree with the NBA rookie. "It's a lot different then Tempe, not only because it's a different city, but also because you're not on a college campus anymore," commented Diogu. "But I'm living in a very nice area, people are really nice here…everything has been great." He added that he hasn't had a chance to catch up with fellow Bay Area resident and former Sun Devil, Oakland Raiders signal caller Andrew Walter. "I heard he was trying to get in contact with me," he said, "so I need to meet up with him some time."

When asked what end of the season comments he received from Head Coach Mike Montgomery, Diogu replied: "He told me to keep on working hard and keep on improving, so we can turn this around next year. He gave me some advice on what I need to work on, and I'm just gonna work hard on my game like I have always done."

As mentioned, just days after his season ended Diogu is back in familiar surroundings in Sun Devil country. This time however, as he strolls through campus, he won't see the coach that had convinced him to choose Arizona State as the college of his choice. "It's unfortunate that Coach Evans is no longer here, because he's the reason I came to ASU," he said. "It's sad, but stuff like happens. I talked to him and he will be fine."

Ike Diogu is back in town, and he's resolved to balance academics and pleasure this time around. "I'm gonna register for some classes to take in the summer," he said, "and with some classes I'll take next summer I can get my degree. I'm also just gonna hang with the guys here like Kevin (Kruger), Serge (Angounou) and Allen (Morill). Those are the guys that came to ASU with me my freshman year and I talk to them all the time. Once you leave college, it's always fun to come back, talk to you friends and share those old stories."

The stories regarding Diogu's illustrious Sun Devil career, are enough for the maroon and gold faithful to beam with pride. The tales of a productive NBA career, are hopefully just starting to take shape…

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