A 'Dream' Win
By Brian Parsons
It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do for you.
Sophomore Darron Dancler had a dream earlier this week that he was going to put up 50 points this weekend.
Considering he was averaging less than five points a game this year, it
was everyone else who probably thought Dancler was dreaming.
Instead he seized the opportunity, using his first start this season to
knock down a career-high 26 points and lead the DePauw Tigers (15-6, 9-5 SCAC) to a 78-68 win over Southwestern University on Friday night.
The 6-7 Dancler found his outside stroke, knocking down six of the seven
three-pointers he attempted in the first half. This is the same Dancler
who made only six shots from behind the arc all of last year. He would
hit another one in the second half to finish the game with seven
three-pointers, one shy of the DePauw record set most recently by Todd
Seifferlein in the 92-93 season.
Dancler wasn't alone in his triumph however. The memory of his former
Lawrence North (Indianapolis, IN) teammate and good friend, John
Stewart, who died last year of a heart attack, weighed heavily on his
mind. On his left wrist there is a stark white wristband with Stewart's
old number, 53. A wristband Dancler has worn every game this season.
Dancler also has a picture of him and Stewart in his locker. It is a
picture of two friends who are in love with life. Stewart is clutching
Dancler in a big bear hug, squeezing the helpless Dancler.
But this weekend Dancler wasn't feeling helpless. This particular
weekend is special. Tomorrow he is going back to his former high school
to take part in a tribute for Stewart. That number, 53, will be retired
at Lawrence North, to hang in the rafters and never be worn again.
Dancler says tomorrow is why he had the dream.
"I got caught up earlier in the week thinking about this weekend, about
getting to start, and about Stewart. It was in my mind so that's
probably why I was dreaming about scoring 50 points," Dancler said.
As amazing as it sounds, Dancler burned the Pirates for 20 points in the
first half, accounting for almost 50 percent of the Tigers 41 points,
and staying slightly under pace for his 50 point wish.
Dancler owes much of his outside touch to Stewart. In high school when
the two would match up against each other, Stewart's inside presence
forced Dancler to shoot from outside.
"I wouldn't go inside on him. He killed me in the post so I stuck to
beating him from outside," Dancler said.
The Tigers relied on his sweet shooting to build a 13-point lead heading
into halftime, and even put a smile on Fenlon's face.
The Pirates zone kept challenging Dancler to take the outside shot and
he buried them.
"They concentrated on shutting down the post and once [Dancler] started
hitting shots it was tough for them to adjust on the fly," said junior
forward Dave Gifford.
Southwestern head coach Bill Raleigh said Dancler's offensive explosion
wasn't terribly surprising to him.
"We knew overall that DePauw could knock down the three-point shot. We
just didn't think it was going to be done by just one guy. [Dancler]
didn't do much when he played us at [Southwestern], but we knew he was
capable of hitting them, and he showed that tonight," Raleigh said.
The Tigers, eighth in Division III in three-point shooting, are
averaging 42% from behind the arc. And it wasn't all Dancler. The 6-7
center Sean Lewis even knocked one down from the top of the key.
Fenlon said his team's outside success is based intrinsically on getting
the ball inside to the post.
"When we get the ball down low it opens up our perimeter players for
some open shots. Nothing happened out there today, [Dancler] can do
that. That's why he's here," Fenlon said.
The one thing that didn't please Fenlon was the team's interior defense.
The Tigers allowed the Pirates to shoot 49 percent for the game, but
were able to win off of their own hot shooting.
"We were doing pretty well until we got goofy in the second half and
started turning the ball over. We weren't playing with any energy in the
second half," Fenlon said.
That "goofy" stretch Fenlon mentioned came midway in the second half.
The Tigers went scoreless for six and a half minutes and watched a 14-0
Pirate run shrink the Tiger lead to 54-49 with ten minutes remaining.
"[Southwestern] is the poorest team in the conference in three-point
shooting and they were able to hit a couple in the second half," Fenlon
Sophomore Joe Nixon sank a ten-footer from the baseline to get the
Tigers back on track and helped get the lead back up to double digits.
>From there point guard Mike Howland nailed all of his free throws down
the stretch to finish with 19 points to go along with six assists, and
keep the Pirates at bay. Marcus Washington led the Pirates with 20
On Sunday the Tigers play host to SCAC-leading Trinity University at the
Lilly Center. Earlier in the season in San Antonio, Trinity escaped with
a 78-73 win over the Tigers. For the Tigers to have any shot at knocking
Trinity off of the top spot in the SCAC, they must win. However, Dancler
isn't sure if he can give a repeat performance.
Hopefully for the Tigers he'll have sweet dreams Saturday night.