Bucknuts Magazine Excerpts: Center of Attention

It goes without saying that men's hoops standout Terence Dials has seen his share of ups and downs at Ohio State. He's been a part of a Big Ten championship team as well as a head coaching change. He's had excellent output on the court but has also struggled with injuries. In today's Bucknuts the Magazine excerpts, we have an article by Dave Biddle from the March issue of Bucknuts the Magazine that revisits those highs and lows with Dials and looks to his future as well.

As part of the redesign of the Bucknuts.com web site, we have added an area where we can publish excerpts from Bucknuts The Magazine. Each week, we will put in a new excerpt from the latest edition of Bucknuts The Magazine.

BTM has evolved from humble beginnings as a 32-page magazine into its current format as an 80-page magazine. It is published 10 times a year (monthly from September through April, then once in the Spring and Summer).

The magazine retails for $4.95 on newsstands. We also sell annual subscriptions to the magazine on the Internet for $39.95.

But the best deal going is our annual subscription bundle. For $99.95, you get a full year of BTM as well as access to all of the premium content and message boards on Bucknuts.com. Subscriptions to the web site, itself, are priced at $9.95 per month. So, for roughly $100 you receive the value of almost $160 between the web site and magazine.

In each issue of Bucknuts The Magazine, we have in-depth features on Ohio State football players, coaches and prospects. We also have analysis pieces on the Buckeyes as well as their opponents, the Big Ten and college football world in general. Plus, we have features on OSU athletes in a variety of sports, including men's and women's basketball, hockey, wrestling, baseball and other sports.

The Spring edition (Ted Ginn Jr. on the cover) is on newsstands now. Our Summer Issue, the 2005 Football Preview issue, will be available in mid-June. New subscribers will begin their subscription with the first issue after the Summer Issue.

This week's excerpt is a reprint of an entire story from the March 2005 issue. This story is on OSU men's basketball player Terence Dials, who will be entering his senior year next year. The story was written by Dave Biddle:

Headline: Center of Attention

By Dave Biddle

Terence Dials has seen a little bit of everything during his Ohio State career – and he still has over a full year left.

As a freshman in 2001-02, Dials helped lead the Buckeyes to the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships. He was the top post player on team and averaged 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game as OSU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In 2002-03, Dials played the first six games of the season and was averaging 7.0 points and 5.8 rebounds. However, a back injury suffered in practice forced him to miss the rest of the season.

No one wants to get injured, but Dials was fortunate. If he had played one more game, it would have counted as a full season. But as it stood, Dials was able to count the season as a redshirt year, saving a year of eligibility.

The 2003-04 season began with head coach Jim O'Brien unable to speak above a whisper following a surgical procedure. The Buckeyes struggled all season, even after O'Brien recovered. But the 6-9 Dials began to come into his own. He averaged 10.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as OSU missed the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.

Following the season, Dials was named captain and O'Brien put him in charge of leading the off-season workouts.

However, in June 2004, O'Brien was fired after admitting he gave $6,800 to a recruit in 1999. Dials was pegged by OSU athletic director Andy Geiger to sit on a search committee to find O'Brien's successor.

Thad Matta was hired from Xavier to replace O'Brien, and he immediately convinced the players that they could be a winner his first year and make it back to the tournament.

The 2004-05 campaign began well for the Bucks with them going 5-1 out of the gates. However, after a loss to Clemson, they learned that the program was being placed on probation for one season and would be banned from the NCAA and NIT tournaments.

For Dials, it definitely hasn't been the average college career.

"Yeah, there have sure been some ups and downs, and I do feel like I've been around and seen a little bit of everything," Dials said. "You just don't expect some of those things to happen, but I'm glad to be here and hopefully we won't have anything crazy happen the rest of this year or next year."

Dials was considered a national top-100 recruit by most services coming out of Youngstown Boardman High School. He averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds as a junior, but then missed half of his senior season with a knee injury.

He wasn't sure what to expect as he entered his freshman season at OSU.

"I just wanted to come in and play hard," he said. "I knew that we had just lost Ken Johnson and knew there were going to be some minutes up front to be had, because no one was proven yet. So, I just wanted to come in and play hard and try and earn any type of minutes I could, and I was glad that I earned as many as I did."

Dials was downtrodden during his redshirt year of 2002-03, but he now views the injury as a blessing in disguise.

"Yeah, I do," he said. "I wasn't prepared to leave so quickly, I guess. I was kind of young for my high school class anyway. So, I think it was good just to hold off that year and have an extra year next year.

"Sitting out gave me a different perspective on things, a different outlook on a lot of things. Especially on the basketball side, it makes me appreciate things a little more. It's a thing of the past. I'm healthy now and I'm just glad I have an opportunity to play with the guys."

If the injury didn't happen, or happened later in the season, this would be Dials' final season at OSU.

"I have thought about that a little bit, and I'm glad it's not, to tell you the truth," he said. "I'm glad I have that extra year. Things happen for a reason."

This year, Dials has established himself as one of the premier post players in the Big Ten. Through Ohio State's first 19 games, he was averaging 16.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. He was also named the conference's player of the week two consecutive weeks.

Is there any chance Dials would test the NBA waters after this season?

"Oh no. No chance of that," he said.

But playing in the professional ranks is definitely on his mind.

"I always think about it," Dials said. "That's why you play the game right now, and especially coming to college, you always want to get to the ultimate level. But right now, I'm not focusing on that; I'm focusing on this season. But hopefully that can become reality in the future, and if it does, then I'm thankful for that.

"I've always dreamed about it, but I don't think it's a reality as of yet. I still have a lot of work to do and a lot of things to get better on. So, I'm just focusing on that right now."

One reason Dials has improved is that he's more of a complete player. He used to go to his right about 90 percent of the time. This year, he has developed a left hand and has proven he can score with his left.

"That's something that the coaches here, they want you to work on," Dials said. "They always say, ‘We want the scouting report to say you can use either hand.'

"Hopefully the scouting report says that now. I don't want defenders to play me just one way. It's added to our arsenal and it's helped me out a lot offensively."

Dials said he now uses the left hand even more than the right at times.

"It's just what the defense gives me," he said. "Obviously if they want to take away my right hand, which is my strong hand, I will go to the left. I have no problems going to the left now, and I'm pretty comfortable with it."

But his bread and butter move is still the same.

"Right hand baby hook, yeah, I still love that," he said. "That's my best move."

Matta's Impact

To a man, the OSU players all seem to respect Matta and enjoy playing for him. Even during the tough times of the season – including a four-game losing skid – Matta stayed positive.

"It's important," Dials said. "Especially with a lot of young guys on the team. He's not being negative at all. He's still positive and upbeat, and he comes to practice like we were winning. You can't tell if we're on a winning streak, or losing streak. He just comes in and he's working hard, and that makes us work hard even more.

"Coach Matta is a great coach. I think he's going to do some great things around here."

Not long after Matta was hired, he approached Dials and told him he wanted him to lose about 10 pounds. Dials always moved fairly well for a big man, but as Matta put it: "My idea of in shape and his idea of in shape are two different things."

Dials took it to heart and lost the weight. He now plays at 240 pounds and can feel the difference.

"When you're in condition, you play better and you can play the whole game," he said. "I can definitely tell a difference."

Matta knows how important Dials is to the team.

"We need Terence to play well for us to be successful," Matta said. "He is our one threat inside and we need to keep him on the floor."

Keeping Dials on the floor is easier said than done at times. Every team tries to get Dials in foul trouble because they know OSU is not the same team without him. Dials says it's difficult to find the balance between saying out of foul trouble and playing hard.

"Sometimes it is," he said. "You know your team needs you and you know you can't foul as much as you were able to in the past. There's not a true backup. I have to pick my poison. Obviously, I don't want to let my guy score, but then again, I have to make sure I stay in the game and don't foul. It's a different situation for me this year."

Offensively, there is also a lot of pressure on Dials to perform. The Buckeyes run a "four around one" style under Matta, meaning they use four perimeter players and one post. Dials is often battling two players his size for post position and rebounds. Making matters worse, if Dials gets in foul trouble, or needs a breather, OSU doesn't have any viable big men backing him up.

"It gets tough at times when you're seeing double teams and they have two big guys underneath rebounding," Dials said. "But I just have to stay focused and not lose my cool and go out there and just keep playing ball."

Sophomore forward Ivan Harris is 6-8, and he's played well for the most part this season. But he's more of a small forward than a power forward. Dials would like nothing more than to have Harris develop a post game to go along with his impressive shooting stroke.

"Ivan is the type of player that can get hot and he's almost unstoppable," Dials said. "But sometimes if he misses a shot or two, he doesn't seem to shoot it anymore, or when he does he doesn't shoot it with confidence. He's a young player and he's going to learn that shooters shoot all the time with confidence. That's one thing he's going to learn and I think he'll get better with more experience. And just get in the weight room and get stronger so he can battle all the Big Ten forwards."

Freshman forward Matt Terwilliger also stands 6-8, and Dials thinks he will be a solid big man down the road.

"I think Matt is close," Dials said. "He just needs a little more experience and to get in the weight room a little bit. I mean, he's a freshman, so he's not going to be as naturally strong as most guys like my age. So, once he gets into the weight room this off-season, I think he'll be a great asset to the team."

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