Pleas­ant sur­prise

Dut Dut has been a pleas­ant sur­prise for the Pan­thers this sea­son

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - THE GUARDIAN

A UPEI Pan­thers rookie is find­ing mul­ti­ple ways to help his team win bas­ket­ball games.

Take Satur­day night at home against the Saint Mary’s Huskies for ex­am­ple.

Dut Dut (pro­nounced Doot Doot) hit a three-point shot on the team’s first pos­ses­sion. With the Huskies mak­ing a se­cond-half run, Dut took a charge to swing mo­men­tum as the Pan­thers won to im­prove to 62 in At­lantic Univer­sity Sport (AUS) reg­u­lar sea­son play.

“I wanted to come out with fire against that team be­cause they just beat us the (pre­vi­ous) week,” Dut ex­plained be­fore a re­cent prac­tice while wear­ing a shirt that said BEAST on the front.

“Coach is al­ways on me about get­ting charges,” he said with a smile, “so I’m like, let me just get this one for coach.”

At six-foot-six and 240 pounds Dut is hard to miss on the floor. The fact his wing­span is about seven feet doesn’t hurt ei­ther.

“He’s a big strong kid,” head coach Tim Ken­drick said. “He’s will­ing to do what­ever he needs to do to help us win.”

Dut has given the Pan­thers an in­side pres­ence miss­ing in re­cent years.

“He’s a great ad­di­tion to the team,” for­ward Brad States said. “He’s way more than what we ex­pected. He can shoot from out­side, he can take it down low and he’s a lot quicker than peo­ple might think.

“We love hav­ing him on the team. He’s like a brother now.”

No one may have been im­pacted more by Dut’s pres­ence than States. Last year, the for­ward would get the as­sign­ment of play­ing against one of the other team’s big­gest and strong­est play­ers. States per­formed well, but he has more favourable matchups this sea- son. “It helps me a lot, so I don’t have to deal with all the big guys now,” States said. “I just send Dut on them.”

Dut’s out­side shoot­ing abil­ity keeps teams hon­est, Ken­drick said, which opens up driv­ing lanes for his team­mates.

“He has been bet­ter than we thought he would be,” said Ken­drick. “I didn’t re­al­ize he was as good of­fen­sively as he’s been.”

Dut played for for­mer Pan­thers as­sis­tant coach Pa­trick Havard at Cran­dall for a year but com­mit­ted to the Pan­thers last sum­mer.

“It was a nice school. It had a nice fa­cil­ity,” Dut said about why he chose UPEI.

“Ev­ery­one on the court looked like they were hav­ing fun.”

Dut was born in Su­dan and moved with his fam­ily to Ottawa when he was six years old. He is one of the middle chil­dren among five sis­ters and an older brother.

Dut said his par­ents de­cided to come to Canada to give their chil­dren bet­ter ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties. He now has a mar­ket­ing diploma from his two years at Al­go­nquin Col­lege in Ottawa and is work­ing on his busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion de­gree at UPEI.

“Get my education and play ball as long as I can, that’s what I want to do,” said the 22-yearold.

The Pan­thers host the Aca­dia Ax­e­men (6-3) for two games Fri­day and Satur­day at 8 p.m.

They dropped a pair of games in Wolfville, N.S., to end 2015. Both teams are in a four­way tie for first place with 16 points.

UPEI has a game in hand.

“I just don’t feel like Aca­dia have seen our best ef­fort yet,” Ken­drick said. “Hope­fully, they will Fri­day night and Satur­day night.”

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Dut Dut goes in for a layup dur­ing a UPEI Pan­thers prac­tice.

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