Buckeyes Hoping For Balance From Lauderdale

Ohio State senior center Dallas Lauderdale has shown flashes of being a dominant player during his career but has not been able to put it together for an entire season. With an ESPN the Magazine superlative in his pocket, Lauderdale said he is aiming to have a complete senior season.

Dallas Lauderdale is out to show that he is a changed man this season. To prove that point, the senior post player stopped a recent Ohio State practice dead in his tracks with something he did during a drill.

He hit a mid-range jump shot for the first time in his Buckeye career, and it came at the expense of classmate Jon Diebler.

"Dallas made his first baseline jumper in practice in four years in practice," the guard said. "Live play. It was a pick and pop and of course, it was on me. Dallas screened and instead of rolling to the basket he did a pick and pop. I closed out. Obviously I didn't think he was going to shoot it. We stopped practice for a couple of minutes."

Said Lauderdale: "Jon closed out a little late so I got him. You never know, you might see a couple of those this year too."

Almost exclusively a post presence during his previous three years, Lauderdale has attempted 74 percent of his career shots from that area of the court. While it remains a stretch to peg the 6-8, 255-pound Lauderdale as a player who will start earning his living away from the basket Lauderdale said he challenged himself to improve from a mental standpoint in all phases of the game.

The hope is that doing so will lead to more consistent play from the 6-8, 255-pound Lauderdale. In the team's 102-56 exhibition victory Sunday against Walsh, Lauderdale finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

"He's obviously got more of a presence down there," head coach Thad Matta said. "He's getting the same looks. He's doing a pretty good job. The touch pass he had, I hadn't seen that from him. I just think his overall feel is better."

The pass Matta referred to went from Lauderdale in the high post to freshman Jared Sullinger on the low block.

"That was the first time I've ever had a high-post pass to the post," he said. "That was a nice little pass there. It was fun. I enjoyed myself. I feel I can play there."

The trick now will be to try and sustain that type of success into and throughout Big Ten play. As a junior, six of his 10 double-digit scoring performances came in non-conference play and he averaged 8.5 points per game in the 11 non-conference early-season games. Against Big Ten foes, that dipped to an average of 5.8 points.

He remained a defensive presence and led the conference in blocks with 77, recording three or more in 10 games – five in Big Ten play and five out of it. Conference coaches named him to the all-defensive team.

His average of 5.2 rebounds a game, however, ranked third on the team behind two guards.

"Rebounding was a key thing I tried to focus on in the offseason," he said. "It's something that really hurt us last season, not being able to rebound the ball as well as we should've. This team has offensive weapons one through eight. Our first three guys off the bench are offensively gifted as well. Being able to focus on defense and rebounding is my calling card so that's what I'm going to do."

So could a lesser role on offense be in the cards for Lauderdale?

"I don't want to put it that way but I do want to be a defensive presence," he said. "I want to be feared in the lane."

According to a survey conducted by ESPN the Magazine, Lauderdale is being feared outside of the lane and even off the court. In an anonymous poll of 170 college basketball players, 13.9 percent named him the player with whom they would least like to end up in a fight.

Asked if Lauderdale is really that mean, Matta said, "He can be. After four years I'm getting closer to finding the right buttons to push for him. I guess that's a great honor. I like having him in our team, I do know that when we go into games."

Diebler said the superlative flies in the face of Lauderdale's off-the-court demeanor.

"I think it's funny," he said. "Dallas has got the best personality ever. The guy is hilarious. From what we see everyday on the court and in the locker room, I think it's awesome. It must be the beard."

Lauderdale said he took the award as an honor.

"I do try to be an intimidating force," he said. "I like to block shots. I like to scream and yell and whatever but I don't purposely try to hurt anybody or anybody like that."

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