Men's Basketball: Oral Roberts
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 5:56 AM
with Damen Bell-Holter
Weight: 245 pounds
Hometown: Hydaburg, Alaska
Bell-Holter grew up in a tiny island village before attending high school in Ketchikan, Alaska, where he was a two-time All-State selection. Basketball became his ticket to see the rest of the U.S. He attended a prep school in New Hampshire and signed with ORU.
Going from Alaska to New Hampshire to Tulsa, what is it about Tulsa that proved to be a pleasant surprise?
This is going to sound funny, but how many black people there are here.
Before you got here, you had a perception that Tulsa lacked diversity?
Yeah, because you think of Texas and Oklahoma and it's kind of Cowboy-ish and more Native Americans. I was surprised when I came on my visit and everything.
You wear No. 32. Does that mean anything to you?
I have worn it since my freshman year of high school. It was my mom's number (in middle school and high school) and she jokingly told me she wanted me to wear 32 so I have worn it at every school I have ever been at ever since.
ORU couldn't have asked for a better launch to its inaugural tour of the Southland Conference. Injured starter Steven Roundtree did not travel with the team for a two-game road swing, but the Golden Eagles made 59-of-103 field-goal attempts and cruised to double-digit victories over Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls State. ORU is 2-0 in league play for a fourth consecutive season, including three seasons as a Summit League member.
The week ahead
Thursday: vs. Northwestern (La.) St., 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: vs. Stephen F. Austin, 7:30 p.m.
Oral Roberts' first homestand as a Southland Conference member will be its biggest of the season. Only three Southland schools survived the opening week of league play with a record of 2-0 or better in conference games. One of them is ORU. The other two - Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin - are scheduled to visit the Mabee Center this week.
The big picture
Can Damen Bell-Holter continue posting monster numbers?
Bell-Holter has played three of the best games of his career since frontcourt partner Steven Roundtree suffered an injury prior to a game at Memphis. The senior post player is averaging 26.3 points and 11.7 rebounds during that span.
"Coach (Scott) Sutton has expressed his confidence in me since day one," Bell-Holter said. "We had conversations before I started playing better that he expected me to have a better season and I took it upon myself just to be more aggressive rather than being tentative and, like I said, I have been in the gym a lot and it has paid off."
Is Bell-Holter built for a big season in a new league?
Bell-Holter averaged 7.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in Summit League games last season. He averaged 30.5 points (on 23-of-33 shooting) and 10.5 rebounds in his first two Southland Conference games.
After Bell-Holter scored a career-best 35 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in his Southland debut, Sutton said this: "That was great to see. I think in this league you are going to see a lot of athletic and maybe undersized post players. If Damen will play like that, he's not going to get 35 points and 14 rebounds every night, but he has a chance to be a great weapon for us every night in this league."
What are good and bad personality traits of this team?
ORU can't seem to run away from opponents after building big leads. That proved costly in homecourt losses to Oklahoma and Tulsa. On the flip-side, the Golden Eagles shoot free throws well enough that it should pay off in close games. They rank 21st nationally in free-throw percentage.
D.J. Jackson heads downcourt during ORU's game against Tulsa last month at the Mabee Center. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World