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Ex-Gonzaga star Daye learns to keep emotions in check

Detroit’s Austin Daye, right, is averaging 18 minutes and 7.2 points per game. (Associated Press)
Detroit’s Austin Daye, right, is averaging 18 minutes and 7.2 points per game. (Associated Press)

Second-year Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye said he has learned some valuable lessons this season, such as keeping his focus and emotions in check while sitting on the bench when he would much prefer to be playing.

Daye (Gonzaga University) hasn’t seen as much playing time in 2010-11 as he’d like or expected after a promising rookie year, but he keeps working hard at practice and making the most of his opportunities, such as against Miami on Friday night.

Daye led the Pistons in scoring with 18 points in the team’s 106-92 loss to the Heat at the Palace.

The 6-foot-11 forward played just more than 23 minutes, starting slowly in the first half but picking up the pace in the third and fourth quarters. He nailed three 3-pointers and had three assists and finished 6 for 13 on field goals.

“I feel all right, but we had a big loss, which is kind of disappointing,” Daye said after practice on Saturday. “Personally, I didn’t play too well in the first half and I wanted to make up for it in the second. I did a pretty good job in knocking the ball down from there.”

Daye, 22, has played in 45 games this season, averaging just more than 18 minutes a game and scoring an average of 7.2 points an outing .

“I was out of the lineup for a number of games – didn’t play at all,” said Daye, who many say has the sweetest shot on the team. “But, I’m back in the rotation and playing well. That’s what matters. I’m playing backup and playing good minutes.”

Pistons coach John Kuester experimented with the lineup earlier in the season and has used Daye sparingly at times. But it appears Daye will get more time as the team fights for a playoff berth.

“He (Austin) started off slow (against Miami),” Kuester said on Saturday. “He had some great looks … that he normally knocks in. But I’m very pleased with his energy. He has done a great job.”

At one point, Daye, who was selected 15th overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the Pistons, did show a little frustration against Miami but only because he wanted to contribute more, Kuester said.

“That’s the way he is,” Kuester said. “He wants to play. He’s worked hard, and I’m very proud of him.”

Though this year could have gone better for him, Daye will take it in stride.

“One year under your belt, you are a year older and a year wiser,” Daye said. “You don’t make as many mistakes as before. … As a young player, I just need to keep my head on straight and keep my focus on the games.”

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