Lauderdale Already Making An Impact

The 2008-09 Ohio State men's basketball team is already learning that it can expect a lot out of sophomore center Dallas Lauderdale. Two games into the season, last year's role player has blossomed into a starter and a terror on the defensive side of the court.

Consider Bowling Green head coach Louis Orr among the growing list of observers impressed with Dallas Lauderdale.

During Ohio State's 61-57 victory Nov. 24 against the visiting Falcons, the Buckeyes blocked nine BG shots. Of those nine, Lauderdale was personally responsible for six of them, increasing his total to 13 blocks in the first two games of the year.

Situated in the post-game interview room, Orr glanced at the final statistics and offered up an opinion on those nine shots.

"The one guy that really makes a difference and I can see a difference when he's in the game is Dallas Lauderdale," Orr said. "I guarantee you probably eight of those nine if they don't block those, they're buckets. He's a difference-maker on the defensive end."

Looking at a final score differential of just four points, that assessment seems pretty accurate. In a game where the Buckeyes both had problems covering the Falcons with their zone defense and struggled to find an offensive rhythm, Lauderdale was the primary bright spot from the game for OSU.

Had he blocked two fewer shots, it is entirely possible the game would have gone into overtime.

"If you can't get lay-ups and score layups around the basket, your field-goal percentage is going to be down," Orr said. "We knew he could block shots. Our game plan was you've got to in there, pump-fake him, go up strong and try to get him in foul trouble and get him off his feet."

That plan did not work, as Lauderdale showed patience and explosiveness when in position to block shots in the paint.

It has become a recurring theme for the sophomore, who had two blocks on the same possession in his team's season-opening victory against Delaware State four days prior.

"Dallas was especially (active) around the basket he was blocking shots," OSU head coach Thad Matta said. "He really saved us a couple times because we weren't as effective as we needed to be in there. He's a presence down there with his ability. He's quick off the floor."

Lauderdale also improved on his rebound totals. After grabbing one against DSU, Lauderdale had seven for the Buckeyes against the Falcons. He also added eight points, three of which came at a crucial time.

The Falcons claimed a 50-49 lead with 5:20 remaining, but Lauderdale converted a three-point play after being fouled while throwing down a powerful, one-handed dunk. The play gave the Buckeyes a lead they would not relinquish.

He finished with eight points against the Falcons after putting up seven in the first game. Last season, he had 30 points all year. After the DSU game, Lauderdale said he feels more confident with his offensive game.

"If I have a lane, I'm more confident in myself," he said. "I'm more aggressive. That's the biggest thing. My teammates feed off of me because if the double-team comes we have great shooters that can shoot the ball."

Lauderdale's presence has proved to be vital as freshman B.J. Mullens has struggled in his first two games. The 7-0 center was rated as the No. 1 center in the country by, but he saw just 11 minutes of action against the Falcons as the game became tight in the second half.

"The biggest challenge is for a guy like B.J. to come in, look at the film and continue to find ways to get better," Matta said. "Make no mistake about it: We need B.J. Mullens to continue to grow. He's got to play a huge role on this basketball team."

The fact that Mullens is not there yet makes Lauderdale's output even more vital to his team's success.

"B.J.'s going to come," Matta said. "As he continues to see that, but Dallas has a presence about him that he's taking great pride down there around the basket. That's something we definitely need."

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