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Men’s Basketball: Dees waiting for success

Transfer from Liberty sat out for one year

Dan McDonald

The first time David Dees touched the basketball Monday night, he drove the lane and put up a tough shot in traffic that bounced away.
At least that was better than his first shot two years ago, when he last played a season opener.

“That one was an air ball,” Dees said.

That one came at Liberty University, where the 6-foot-3 guard played successful freshman and sophomore seasons. Monday, during UL’s 65-51 exhibition win over Spring Hill College, he made his long-awaited Cajun debut.
Dees, who had to sit out the entire 2005-06 season to establish his eligibility, played 32 minutes and had 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.

Not enough.

“I played terrible,” Dees said. “I was so anxious. There was so much I wanted to do. The other guys kept telling me to take my time and let the game come. But the game looked like it was in hyper speed.”

It was to be expected, since the Dayton, Ohio, native hadn’t played an organized game in 20 months.

“He was probably too anxious to try to score,” said Cajuns coach Robert Lee. “He was trying to do a little too much, and offensively he was pressing. He settled down a lot in the second half.”

Dees was 1-for-5 from the field with four turnovers in the first half, part of a Cajuns attack that connected on 29.6 percent from the floor in trailing 31-28 at halftime. In the second half, UL shot 47.8 percent and had an 18-10 rebound advantage.

“It was a much better second half for us,” Dees said. “That’s why it’s an exhibition game. It was a chance to work the kinks out, and it’s a lot more important to win and we did that.”

Dees was the Big South Conference all-league pick in 2004-05 and was on the all-freshman team one year earlier when he had a 22-point, 7-of-9 shooting effort for Liberty against No. 1-ranked St. Joseph’s in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 16.2 points and 5.1 rebounds as a sophomore before transferring to UL.

As a transfer, Dees could practice with the team and take part in most other activities, but the year away from actual playing was a tough one. But he also said he did a lot of maturing.

“It feels like it’s been a lot longer,” he said after Monday’s game. “I know what I’m capable of doing, and I tried to do it all in one evening tonight.

“Ross (teammate) and I talked today, and we were talking about how personal numbers aren’t as important as they used to be. That’s not my standard for success any more. All we want to do is play aggressive and win.”

Dees gets another chance to work his way back into form Friday when the Cajuns open their regular season against Ouachita Baptist at 7:05 p.m. the Cajundome.

UL basketball opener

The UL men’s basketball opener is at 7:05 p.m. Friday. The Cajuns will play host to Ouachita Baptist at the Cajundome.