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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Sports

Dymond in the Rough: How UH’s most improved player became a ‘floor general’


Sophomore guard Dymond Gladney went from averaging under two points as a freshman in 2018-19 to being one of Houston's leading scorers and the Cougars' "floor general." | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Sophomore guard Dymond Gladney went from averaging under two points as a freshman in 2018-19 to being one of Houston’s leading scorers and the Cougars’ “floor general.” | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

As a freshman in 2018-19, a young Dymond Gladney rode the bench for a Houston team stacked with experienced and high scorers, but with many of UH’s veterans from last year now gone, her stats, and role, have skyrocketed.

The Cougars lost four of their five scoring leaders from last season, but Gladney, who averaged 1.8 points, 0.9 assists and 0.6 rebounds per game her freshman year, has grown into a confident, more mature offensive leader that fills the gaps.

“My work ethic has gone up most definitely, because I knew I had to take on a different role this year, which is being the floor general,” Gladney, who now averages 11.5 points per game, said. “Building a whole bunch of confidence in myself came with the work I put in in the offseason and practice.”

Head coach Ron Hughey has taken notice of Gladney’s improvement in a season where her load has grown exponentially.

“The first thing I’d say Dymond has grown in is just her maturity,” Hughey said of the guard. “When you have to go from your freshman year to your sophomore year and playing a lot of minutes you have to mature on the court.” 

With the growth Hughey and Gladney’s teammates have seen from her has come leadership, which is vital for the brain of the backcourt to possess.

“She had to understand that she’s the point guard,” HugheyF said. “She dictates the plays. She tells everybody where to go, what to do, and when to do it.”

Confidence boost

Another aspect of her game has seen a boost since Gladney has stepped up — her confidence.

She has always had the talent and skill set to excel on the court, Hughey said, but Gladney’s conviction has brought her performance to the next level.

“She can shoot the basketball, get to the rim and defend, but she’s had to get confidence to do all those things each and every day,” Hughey said. “I think she’s grown in (her confidence) so much.”

The sophomore attributes her confidence boost to her increased work ethic since she knew she would be taking on a bigger role this season.

Gladney has quickly come to grips with what her role as Houston’s on-court offensive leader entails.

“I have to make sure everyone’s in their positions and keep everybody on the same page,” Gladney said. “Staying composed and letting people know it’s okay to mess up and just to go to the next play is also part of my role.”

Not only has Gladney’s production and leadership on the court increased, Hughey said, but the amount of preparation she puts in before each game has left the sixth-year head coach astonished.

One example Hughey had came two days before one of the Cougars’ games when Gladney approached him and said she thought they should specifically focus on ball screen sets and asked for his opinion on different sets they could run that feature ball screens.

“I was blown away,” Hughey said. “It’s finally clicking. It’s two days before, and she’s already thinking about the game.”

That attribute, Hughey added, is a testament to Gladney’s growth as Houston’s most improved player.

“She’s already putting herself in the moment and saying, ‘This is what I think we need to do,'” he said, “and that’s another area she’s grown so much.”

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