Men's Basketball: Oral Roberts
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Monday, January 14, 2013
1/14/13 at 5:47 AM
8-8 overall, 3-1 Southland
with Brandon Conley
Weight: 205 pounds
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
When ORU assistant coach Sean Sutton watched Conley during the recruitment process, he saw someone who is a Desmond Mason-type athlete, according to head coach Scott Sutton. That doesn't mean Conley is destined to be another Mason. It just means, as teammate Damen Bell-Holter said, that Conley is "a freak athlete all the way around." Conley, who remembers Mason as the 2001 NBA slam dunk champ, appreciates the comparison. He has started four of five games since Steven Roundtree's injury.
Why do you think some consider you ORU's most athletic player?
It's just stuff that I do, like somebody will throw a lob. We had one practice where I just came down one side and there was a lob from the other side and I dunked it. And like defensive stuff that I do ... (blocking) it off the backboard - just some athletic stuff that I do that I hope to continue to do.
What have you tried to bring to the team since your role got bigger?
Defensive energy. If I get like a tip off a pass, that's an automatic fast break and the fast break leads to points for us and that gets the bench into it and it gets our seniors into it and it just gives us a lot of energy.
Where does your confidence come from?
I'm still working on my confidence, but a big confidence boost was the Memphis game. I made a good post move and I got the OK for scoring from coaching Sutton. Any time you get the OK for scoring from coach Sutton, it's a good thing.
ORU split the biggest homestand of the season. The three best teams in the Southland Conference (in no specific order) are Stephen F. Austin, ORU and Northwestern State. The Golden Eagles beat Northwestern State and lost to Stephen F. Austin. Road rematches (on Feb. 7 and Feb. 9) loom large.
The week ahead
Thursday: at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: at Sam Houston State, 4 p.m.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi had lost 12 consecutive games before winning Saturday at Lamar. Sam Houston State shares third place in the league standings with ORU and Southeastern Louisiana.
The big picture
What happened Saturday night against Stephen F. Austin?
ORU was fortunate to crack the 50-point barrier against the nation's top-ranked defensive team. The Golden Eagles had only 42 points before D.J. Jackson and Korey Billbury combined for eight points in the final 62 seconds. Jackson credited the Lumberjacks for doing a great job of scouting and limiting the touches of ORU's scorers. Damen Bell-Holter managed only eight field goal attempts. Warren Niles was 3-of-13 and didn't get a shot until 13:30 of the first half. Shawn Glover was 2-of-10.
Best news this week?
The Golden Eagles have found another scoring option. Jackson, a redshirt freshman point guard, reached double figures only twice in the first 14 games. He scored 15 points and 13 points the last two games. Jackson suggested he is coming into his own and said he is feeding off teammates like Niles and Bell-Holter. He said they have confidence in him and he wants to have the same confidence in himself. Also, he said he is trying to execute what coaches want him to do.
How does last week affect the season?
The top two teams in the Southland standings get byes into the semifinals of the league's postseason tournament. That's important because the mission becomes this clear in Katy, Texas: Win two games, reach the NCAA Tournament. ORU could have been alone in the Southland driver's seat by sweeping Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin. And now? "We have to go to both of those places and win both of those games if we want to have a chance to win a regular season championship," Bell-Holter said.
ORU's Brandon Conley shoots during Saturday's game against Stephen F. Austin at the Mabee Center. JOEY JOHNSON / For the Tulsa World