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Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Smaller in frame, UNC Greensboro’s James Dickey plays as big as any forward he faces

UPDATED: Wed., March 14, 2018

UNC Greensboro forward James Dickey III looks to pass during practice, Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Id. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
UNC Greensboro forward James Dickey III looks to pass during practice, Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Id. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

BOISE – James Dickey’s intimidation factor might need some work.

The sophomore forward stands 6-foot-10 but barely pushes 200 pounds on the scale.

He’s one of the leanest bigs on the court this time of the year, but that comes as no surprise to Dickey.

It’s been “all season,” he said. “Pretty much everyone I’m going to play against is pretty much going to weigh more than me.”

Compared to some post players like last season’s Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski, who is just two inches taller than Dickey but weighs 100 more pounds, Dickey is as long and lanky as they come.

Dickey could have an easier matchup against Gonzaga’s current bigs, who are a bit on the leaner side, too. Starting forwards Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie still have some size on Dickey, but not by much.

Tillie matches the Spartan on inches, standing at 6-10, but has 15 extra pounds on him. Williams, 6-8, comes in at 228 pounds.

Dickey might not have the typical stature of the majority of inside players, but the Spartans work hard to make up for his lack of size.

Dickey said the guards do well at helping them defend inside against teams, like Gonzaga, that rely on a heavy inside presence. Even against Williams and Tillie, who are long and dominant in the paint, Dickey will look to his shooters to help out in the double team.

“I don’t look at it as a person matchup. It’s going to be a team effort,” Dickey said. “They’re great bigs, it’s a great team, they’re well coached, definitely. I’m not going to be able to compete one-on-one. It will have to be a whole team effort to stop them.”

Part of that all-hands-on-deck strategy plays to the strengths of Dickey, especially on the defensive end. His lack of size has made him quicker on his feet, which has often helped the Spartans stretch the floor and slow down the opposing offense using a full court press.

Dickey said his stature gives him a kind of athleticism that makes it easier to contribute to the press.

“I’m lengthy and athletic and I have great timing,” he said. “So where I lose the matchup in weight, per se, I feel like I just give more effort. That’s where I can hold my own.”

Most of Dickey’s statistical contributions are at the rim. This season, Dickey has excelled on the defensive end with 71 blocks, or 2.2 per game. He also averages 8.3 rebounds per contest, the most on the team.

Those numbers, and his efforts in the press, earned the sophomore the Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year honor.

On the offensive side, he doesn’t get much help inside. Senior Jordy Kuiper, a 6-9, 250-pound forward, usually pulls outside and contributes to the long shots. Nearly half of his field-goal attempts this season have been made from 3-point range.

Leading scorer Francis Alonso will often break inside to help Dickey in the paint, but most of the time, Dickey, who hasn’t attempted a single 3-pointer this season, is alone in his efforts on the glass.

The Spartans still value a strong inside-out game and getting the “highest possible quality shot,” as forward Marvin Smith Jr. put it, even if it means skipping out on a 3 and pulling inside.

Dickey gets most of his scores on drives when he can break up the defense in the paint. He averages 8.3 points in 33 games this season.

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