October 11, 2008

Dentmon's shooting for success

The old cliché 'practice makes perfect' is exactly what senior guard Justin Dentmon is banking on. After the loss of sharp-shooting guard Ryan Appleby and dependable swingman Joel Smith, Dentmon is the only remaining Husky to have over 52 three-point attempts last season. In fact, only center Joe Wolfinger shot better then Dentmon's .318 percent from the arc, but the seven-footer won't be relied upon for long range production. True freshmen Isaiah Thomas and Elston Turner will both have an instant impact with their shooting ability, but it will be Dentmon who will be asked to pick up much of the slack left behind by Appleby.

"I need to be more of a spot up shooter because [Ryan] Appleby is gone," explained Dentmon. "So now we've got to find out where our other shooters are, and I'm trying to fall into the role of being a viable shooter."

He's not leaving it up to chance either. After tasting success as a freshman in the form of a sweet-sixteen appearance, Dentmon has used the final off-season of his college career to tirelessly work on his outside game.

"I shot three times a day," explained Dentmon. "I wake up in the morning I shoot with Wolfinger. In the Afternoon, I shoot with [Justin] Holiday or Bobby Jones, and then at night I shoot by myself. That was my routine throughout the whole summer. Trying to work on different game situations, coming off screens or just sitting in a spot shooting. Basically it's just all rhythm, just trying to get into a rhythm. I took probably 1,000 shots a day, five days a week."

With Thomas and sophomore Venoy Overton both able to handle the point guard duties, Dentmon sees his role often switching to off guard. However, with all three capable of being combo guards, the Huskies are now loaded with firepower.

"I think they both can find people really well," said Dentmon about his two fellow ball handlers. "Since they're on the same team, it's kind of hard when they both bring the ball up, you've got different match-ups, and people will have to switch on defense. I think we're going to stick with the fast tempo. We've got the firepower, we've got the guards and I think we are in shape. We're getting in the best shape that our team has been in a while."

That has been one area of criticism surrounding Dentmon since his freshman year. He let his body go and added unwanted weight. It affected his play negatively and he wasn't able to regain the form, which led to much success in his first season. He has made sure not to make that mistake again, tirelessly working his body into the best shape of his career.

"I feel that my shape is really good. I don't feel tired, I feel very light on my feet. In the weight room I'm getting stronger. At first when I came here, I was not a squatter, now I'm squatting like 350-pounds. It's a blessing to see how my conditioning has come from my sophomore and junior years. My weight has stayed around 186; I don't think it's really going to go up. My sophomore year, I was like 190, 195, and I felt slow. I'm glad I jumped out of that body."

His teammates and coaches are also glad as they will be relying on the senior's leadership to accomplish their goals.

"We have a lot of goals," said Dentmon. "Our first goal is to win the first tournament we're in. Other goals are to have a 20-win season, and of course win the Pac-10. And we want to try to make the tournament."

With Dentmon's newfound dedication and leadership rubbing off on the younger players, those goals could soon be obtained.

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