OSU's Mr. Defense Needs To Get Offensive

Most college basketball players are like the average fan. They know that J.J. Redick of Duke, Adam Morrison of Gonzaga and Rudy Gay of Connecticut were among the nation's best players. Not many people – other than Oklahoma State fans – were talking about Marcus Dove, who scored a total of 84 points last season. Redick and Morrison could score that many in just two games.

But Dove certainly left his mark on Morrison and Gonzaga head coach Mark Few a year ago, and he wants to make even a bigger name for himself during the 2006-07 basketball season.

The 6-foot-9 OSU junior may have scored only 84 points in 22 games last season (an average of just 3.8 points), but he made a name for himself as the Cowboys' defensive stopper. Although he knows that first-year Cowboy head coach Sean Sutton is going to need more scoring from him this season, Dove wants to take his status as a defensive player up a notch this winter.

"One of my goals is to be All-American first-team defense," Dove said Wednesday during Oklahoma State's media day for the Cowboys, the Cowgirl basketball team, and the four-time defending champion wrestling squad.

Another of his goals is to be recognized as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

"I think I just have to stay in that mindset that it really makes me mad if my man scores, and just telling (Coach Sutton) game in and game out that I want to guard the best player ... to give that challenge to me and let me deal with it," Dove said.

That's probably what will happen after Dove's performance against Morrison, who averaged 28.1 points a year ago for the Zags. Morrison hit a game-winning three-pointer to beat the Cowboys but he struggled to get his 25 points on 6 of 14 shooting from the field (with Dove covering him most of the game).

Few, the Gonzaga coach, told Sean Sutton over the summer that no one did a better job of guarding Morrison than Dove last season. "Last year he was the best player in the country and for his coach to give me that kind of recognition is flattering," said Dove, who didn't allow Morrison to make a shot from the field during one 10-minute stretch in the game.

"I've spent a lot of time talking to him because he is such a great defender," Sutton said. "He's one of those guys that is rare in college basketball in that he can guard so many different positions. He can guard the point guard, he can guard the off guard, he can guard the small forward, he can guard the power forward. Last year against Texas we had him guard (LaMarcus) Aldridge for a period of time, and he did a good job.

"He has embraced his role as the defensive stopper on this team, and he relishes that role, and he wants to guard the best opponent whether it is a two guard or a small forward or a power forward. We have confidence that he's going to do that," Sutton continued. "The thing I've talked to him about is that he's got to become a more complete player, and bring something to the offensive end. And there are ways for him to score. He's long, he's athletic (and) he's got to be able to run through a pass every game and go down and dunk it or lay it in. When we push the ball he's got to be able to beat his guy down the court in transition. His shooting has got a lot better. I think he's made seven or eight threes in the last two practices. If he can do that and rebound like he's capable of he can become a big, big factor on this team."

Dove has been listening to what his coach is telling him. In Sunday's scrimmage he scored 30 points and made four three-pointers. He has only scored in double figures once in the 39 games he has played the past two seasons, and his career high is 14 points (against Mercer last season).

With Mario Boggan (14.8 points), JamesOn Curry (13.5) and David Monds (8.1) returning all that Dove needs to do is become a threat to score 8 to 10 points each night and the Cowboys could become a very tough team to defend.

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