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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Dillon’s ‘D’ sparks Cats

    Sophomore guard Daniel Dillon lays the ball up past Oregon States Nick DeWitz during Arizonas 80-58 victory Feb. 11 in McKale Center. Dillon has become a defensive stopper for the Wildcats and has earned more playing time lately, averaging nearly 20 minutes per game in the Wildcats last four outings.
    Sophomore guard Daniel Dillon lays the ball up past Oregon State’s Nick DeWitz during Arizona’s 80-58 victory Feb. 11 in McKale Center. Dillon has become a defensive stopper for the Wildcats and has earned more playing time lately, averaging nearly 20 minutes per game in the Wildcats’ last four outings.

    Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

    If you were to scan the bench of the Arizona men’s basketball team, you would find a mixture of different personalities.

    You have an Oregon native with tattoo sleeves, a Malian forward who is hardly ever without a smile and a Foothills Ranch, Calif., walk-on who rarely occupies his seat.

    With all the guys, however, it would be difficult not to stop your scan on the Australian with the dreadlocks.

    Daniel Dillon, the 6-foot-3 native of Melbourne, Australia, creates a lot of buzz not just for his dreads, however, but for the consistent on-ball defense that gets him a lot of praise from his teammates.

    “”Basically he brings a good defensive presence and a lot of energy,”” freshman forward Marcus Williams said. “”(He’s) a real aggressive, strong guard, so he definitely is a big energy surge for us coming off the bench, someone that really lays it on the line for his team.””

    Dillon, whom Olson said was his most improved player last year, has earned even more time on the court with his defensive prowess this season.

    “”Coming in here, you have to do more things than play offense,”” Dillon said. “”Coach told me that if you want to have court time, you have to do the little things like rebounding and playing defense, and I just took that in mind and kept doing that and working at that … hopefully improving on that.””

    With the Wildcats again putting more pressure on their defense to win games, Dillon has been one of the main contributors, averaging 19.2 minutes in his last four games and picking up at least two steals in three of the last four games.

    Senior guard Chris Rodgers, who has been called a “”one-man press”” for his intense on-ball defense, said he likes being on the court with Dillon because of their ability to create turnovers.

    “”Me and (Daniel) have a great friendship,”” Rodgers said. “”We joke around a lot with each other, and that’s just a good chemistry when we’re out there. We’re kind of in the same position as far as what the coaches want us to do.””

    Dillon said that he just tries to do as much as he can to imitate what Rodgers does on defense.

    “”I learn a couple of things off Chris in practice from what he does because he’s really good at defense,”” Dillon said. “”Just playing offense against him, just noticing the stuff he does on defense helped me a lot too, so I definitely benefited off that.””

    He just comes out and works his tail off and you hardly hear a word from him.

    – Lute Olson,
    men’s basketball head coach

    Dillon’s competitive nature stems not only from his basketball abilities but also from his days in Australian Rules Football, one of the most popular sports in Australia, which he gave up for basketball.

    “”I first started playing (basketball) when I was 7 or 8, and I just kept on going with that,”” Dillon said. “”I played Australian Rules Football until I was 14 or 15, and I had to pick between both sports because they both took up a lot of time, and I chose basketball.””

    Coming to Arizona, Dillon joined Marty Barmentloo as the only other Australian to play for the Wildcats, and Olson said it has been a treat to have Dillon as a student of the game.

    “”He just comes out and works his tail off and you hardly ever hear a word from him,”” Olson said. “”I’d like to hear more from him defending and talking with his teammates, but we’ve been blessed with (Dillon).””

    With all the talk of the defense he brings and the compliments he gets from that, most of the conversation can still lead back to his hair.

    “”About a year before I came (to Tucson), my hair was getting long and I didn’t want to braid it, so I just did dreads,”” Dillon said with a smile. “”The girls love them, I love them – they’re just a beautiful thing.””

    Olson said in jest that he hopes the trend catches on.

    “”I’ve been trying to talk the other guys all into growing it, but Daniel wants to be unique,”” Olson said.

    If Dillon can continue his recent contributions to the team and combine his energy spark off the bench with his defensive pressure, that uniqueness will continue to be received well.

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