DeMond defense a major weapon

Monday, October 15, 2001

Southeast Missouri State University junior forward Drew DeMond has improved his offensive skills significantly over the last few years.

There is no question, however, where his passion lies.

"I like playing defense. I was coached that way," said DeMond, who added with a smile, "I like offense too, but I really love defense."

DeMond, the only returning full-time starter for the Indians, will be counted on to provide plenty of both for an extremely inexperienced 2001-2002 Southeast squad that began practice Saturday.

"Drew has really matured both offensively and defensively," said Southeast coach Gary Garner. "He can score inside and he has improved his jump shot. He is a good defensive player and a great shot blocker."

A 6-foot-7, 215-pound native of Rockton, Ill., DeMond's defensive skills were apparent almost from the official start of his Southeast career in 1999-2000.

Defensive specialist

After sitting out the 1998-99 season while redshirting, DeMond became a key defensive specialist off the bench the next year during the Indians' run to their first Ohio Valley Conference championship and NCAA Division I Tournament berth.

While averaging just 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per game two years ago, DeMond came up with 26 blocked shots in 23 games to become something of a fan favorite, chants of "Drewwww, Drewwww" resonating throughout the Show Me Center whenever he would reject an opponent's attempt.

"That was a great season, a lot of fun" said DeMond.

The fan support continued last season as DeMond assumed a bigger overall role with the Indians. Continuing to develop offensively -- led by an effective jump-hook shot from in close -- DeMond averaged 6.8 points per game (along with 3.0 rebounds a contest) while shooting 57 percent from from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

And DeMond's defense didn't lag either. His 48 blocked shots ranked second in the OVC and, during the Texas-El Paso Sun Bowl Tournament, he set a tourney and Don Haskins Center record with eight blocks against Jackson State.

More offense needed

DeMond, who has been named a Southeast co-captain along with fellow junior forward Tim Scheer, hopes he can continue to become a bigger weapon for the Indians from an offensive standpoint as the Indians must replace their top four scorers from a year ago. He knows he'll also be counted on for additional rebounding.

"Coach wants me to step up and do a little more scoring, which hopefully I can do," he said.

DeMond said he is willing to do whatever he can to help the Indians continue their run of success over the past few years. Southeast has a combined 62-28 record in the last three seasons, although the Indians slipped somewhat to 18-12 and fifth place in the OVC a year ago.

With DeMond being Southeast's only returning full-time starter, a lot of people expect the Indians to be down this year. But DeMond doesn't.

"We're young, so we'll have our ups and downs," he said. "We've got a lot of new faces, but I think we have the potential to be one of our better teams. We have a lot of team players. I can already tell that we'll play a lot better together than we did last year."

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