Dials Returns To Action For Buckeyes

An important story out of last week's first exhibition was the 14-point effort by power forward Terence Dials, playing competitively for the first time since last December.

There were plenty of storylines coming out of the OSU men's basketball team's opening exhibition win over the Coaches vs. Cancer All-Stars last Friday.

You had J.J. Sullinger returning to his hometown and lighting up the night with 26 points in the 95-87 win. Fellow transfer Tony Stockman added 17 points.

And, you had OSU coach Jim O'Brien sounding a cautionary tone about his coaching future because of the status of a paralyzed vocal cord.

But one story that may have been as big as any was the return to action of sophomore power forward Terence Dials, who logged 14 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes of work.

The game was the 6-9 Dials' first appearance in a competitive setting since his 2002-03 season ended prematurely. Dials was shelved with back problems following the team's Dec. 18, 2002, loss at Pittsburgh.

He didn't even play in summer league ball this off-season in order to continue his rehab work to get ready for this season.

"I felt like a freshman all over again," Dials said. "It's been almost a whole year since I was out there. It felt good coming out here and playing pretty well and helping the team get a victory."

Dials looked at home in the win over CVC. He hit 6 of 13 shots from the floor.

"Everybody has a role," he said. "My role is to rebound and finish when I get the ball underneath the basket. We've got some good outside players with J.J. and Tony and Ricardo Billings. The defense can't collapse on us inside.

"I want to grind it out and be a physical player. I'm hoping to get a lot of one on ones inside. It felt good to be out there and competing for the first time in a long time."

O'Brien would like to start Dials, used mostly as a center in his first two years (he received a medical redshirt last year after appearing in just six games), at the power forward and put 7-0 senior Velimir Radinovic at center.

"That is something we are definitely looking at, playing the two big guys together," Dials said. "I think it would pay off because we can each give the team points and rebounds inside. Vel is so much better than he was even last year."

O'Brien discussed his inside rotation.

"We have to keep figuring out what the trade off is between what we get offensively and what we give up defensively," he said. "If we do that, Velimir may have to guard somebody smaller away from the basket."

Last year, Dials looked like he was ready to take the next step after he averaged 6.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 32 appearances as a freshman. But then his back problem flared up and he had to take a seat. From Dials' perspective, he is just happy to be back on the floor. He credits trainer Vince O'Brien (no relation to the coach) for working with him.

"My trainer, Vince O'Brien, deserves all the credit," Dials said. "He pushed me. He did a great job of getting me out there, running and lifting weights. He got me excited to play this year."

Dials said he lost 20 pounds to get down to his preferred playing weight of about 245.

"I worked hard and lost the weight and even my body fat percentage is down," he said.

Dials and the Buckeyes will host the EA Sports All-Stars Thursday at 8 p.m. at Value City Arena in the team's final exhibition game before the Nov. 21 season opener at San Francisco. That road trip is part of the team's jaunt to the Maui Invitational (Nov. 24-26).

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