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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Sports

Setting the example: How Dymond Gladney became a leader


Guard Dymond Gladney drives to the basket during a 2019 game against HBU | File Photo

Guard Dymond Gladney drives to the basket during a 2019 game against HBU. | File Photo

The jump from the 2018-19 season to 2019-20 was nothing less than a drastic shift for Houston guard Dymond Gladney.

As a freshman, Gladney played just over eight minutes per game on average. But as a sophomore, the 5-foot 5-inch guard from Los Angeles’ role increased massively as she became the Cougars’ primary point guard.

As the starting point guard and with Houston’s lack of depth on the bench, Gladney played over 37 minutes per game during the 2019-20 season, which led to a team-high total of 1,402 minutes on the season.

As a result of playing such heavy minutes, Gladney was also asked to be one of Houston’s primary scorers and finished the season second on the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game.

While Gladney embraced this role and always gave her best effort, it was physically exhausting on her body over the course of a long season.

But this year’s Houston team is full of depth, and with the addition of many freshman and transfers, Gladney is relieved that she does not have to be relied on to play such heavy minutes.

“Oh I’m so excited,” Gladney said with a laugh when asked about not having to play 40 minutes per game. “It’s just a good feeling to know that someone else is going to come in and help the team tremendously when I’m tired.”

It is not that Gladney hated playing big minutes and being relied on to score a bunch, but the fact that the Cougars have much more roster depth this year will allow Gladney to be the player she envisioned being when she became a college athlete.

“The thing with (Dymond Gladney) this year is she was like, ‘Coach Hughey, I get to go back and be the player that I want to be,'” head coach Ronald Hughey told reporters via Zoom. “‘I want to lead the country in assists. Now we have enough people around us to score. Now I don’t have to score as much. ‘”

But being the point guard and setting big goals for herself, like being the country’s leader in assists, will require a commitment to leadership since she will have to have the trust of her teammates to make the right decisions with the ball in her hand.

And leadership is something Gladney has shown great growth in as she has become more mature.

“The growth that I’ve noticed the most is (Gladney’s) maturity,” Hughey said. “She has a calm demeanor about her on the court that says, ‘follow me. I’m going to lead you to the right place.'”

Not only has Gladney demonstrated leadership on the court, but also off the court as she’s setting an example for her teammates by doing anything she can to help them get better.

“(Gladney) had tremendous growth and everybody’s already following her right now,” Hughey said. “She’s even having individual film sessions with players to help them get it. That’s how much they think of her.”

By spending extra time with her teammates, Gladney has been able to better gel with her teammates and to learn their preferences like where they like to catch the ball so that she can be a better facilitator.

“Learning my personnel with what everybody on the team can do,” said Gladney on what she has focused on to be a better point guard. “Like learning how Daphane (White) would want the ball to be thrown to her … So really focusing on making more opportunities for other people to score knowing that I don’t have to be the scorer on the team helps out a lot.”

While she has taken lots of time to build chemistry, Gladney’s ultimate inspiration for spending extra time on her teammates, especially the younger ones, stems from the fact that she did not have a person reach out to her during her freshman season and take her under their wings.

“My freshman year I wish I had somebody to tell me that it’s OK to mess up,” Gladney said. “So I think it’s very important for me to be that type of person in their corner to let them know ‘yeah, I’m here for you. I’m going to help you out every step of the way no matter what. We’re here together.'”

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