Five for Five: Junior guard DJ Cole
“DJ is one of the best defensive players that I’ve seen in a long time, and he can change the game at both the defensive and offensive ends of the floor,” head coach Jerry Slocum said at the time on ysusports.com.
With the 2013-14 season one month away, Cole is looked upon as a leader along with the four seniors. Cole appeared in all 34 games last year, starting 17 of them and averaging 6.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He ranked ninth in the Horizon League in assists per game and was second on the team with 115 overall.
Q) Obviously, you lose Blake Allen at 3-point shooting. Coach mentioned that maybe you’ll be less of a 3-point shooting team this year. Can you just talk about that and what exactly does that mean? Are you going to go more in the perimeter and more in the paint?
A) Like coach said, we lost a great shooter with Blake — the school leader in threes — but we feel like now we have more range. We will get more layups, but at the same time, we have shooters outside of the perimeter that can knock down shots. Probably not knock them down as good or as consistently as Blake, but we can still knock down shots and get to the hole at the same time.
Q) I think more towards the second half of last season is when you started to start in the lineup, and you established yourself to stay there. With Blake gone now, do you think you have to take more of a leadership role, especially now because you are a junior?
A) I feel like I’m on the last two years of my career here, so yes, I have to step up and be more of a leader. I can always lean on my teammates because they help me, and they pick me up when I’m down, as well — as much as I pick them up.
Q) Talk about some of the new incoming freshmen and maybe some of the freshmen that turned into sophomores. What do you see out of them? Is there anybody special that sticks out in your mind?
A) We’re excited about all the freshmen coming in. Marcus [Keene], coming in as a backup point, he’s going to be a great, fast point guard. He’ll come in the game [and] pick the energy up. He can also shoot the ball very well. Jalon [Plummer], he’s probably one of the best freshman shooters I’ve seen here. He’s a great shooter. And then Kyle [Steward], he can bounce outside or bounce inside. He can knock down a jumper or two. And then our redshirt freshman, Ronnye [Beamon], he comes in, and he’s a great defender. He can just come in and put pressure on the other team.
Q) What did you personally work on in the offseason that was lost or was not as strong going into this season, whether it’s shooting, defense or anything like that?
A) I’d say the main two things I worked on was shooting, having a more consistent shot and finishing when I get to the hole. I feel like I can get to the hole, but I have to finish when I’m there, too.
Q) What’s the progression of Bobby Hain been like? I know last year that Coach was saying that maybe his defense was slacking, but with a freshman he’s going to learn that. How does Bobby look in practice so far?
A) Bobby, he’s doing really well actually. He’s hitting the boards more. We’re talking to him everyday, telling him to get lower. I know he’s tall, and it’s hard for him to get low, but we talk to him everyday and having him get lower to the ground, making him box out because he’s going to be guarding the biggest men on the floor. He’s going to have to be able to take on that challenge. I feel like he’ll be ready.