Dziagwa ready to take shot at leading
STILLWATER — Thomas Dziagwa won’t claim to be skilled in math.
“I’m good at addition,” he clarified.
He had to do a lot of it this summer. A junior guard on the Oklahoma State basketball team, Dziagwa made more than 25,000 shots in June and July after a challenge from coach Mike Boynton. The worth of those baskets will first come to light Sunday, when the Cowboys host Ouachita Baptist in a preseason exhibition.
After keeping tabs on his phone throughout each day’s workout, Dziagwa calculated how many makes he had on a sheet in his locker. Before the Cowboys left for their European tour in early August, Dziagwa made 25,968 shots.
“It was just kind of an everyday thing,” Dziagwa said. “The challenge was just a constant reminder every single day to, when I was fatigued or after conditioning, just to stay in the gym and just keep on working.”
Putting up so many shots took its toll. Earlier this week, Dziagwa wore a compression sleeve on his right arm and said he had to ice plenty. He thanked the team’s student managers for coming to rebound whenever he needed them. He figures his most makes in a week was above 3,000, with a single-day high of about 1,000.
“Those are makes only,” Boynton said. “This isn’t a guy coming in here and just jacking up shots.
“I tell our guys we want to be mentally tough, and
to be mentally tough, and I tell them that the measure of their toughness is very hard because they have to find a way to be as tough as I am. But that was a display of physical toughness that I don’t think I have.”
Dziagwa is one of the Cowboys’ three scholarship returners and captains, but he played 500 fewer minutes than either Cam McGriff or Lindy Waters last season. Boynton issued the challenge wanting to see how Dziagwa responded to responsibility.
“Of the guys who have returned, he’s got the smallest résumé in terms of production,” Boynton said. “Now is an opportunity for him, as a veteran on a young team, to be a guy who can show by the way he works what it takes to be good.”
Dziagwa’s pace three weeks into the effort assured Boynton of his eventual success. Boynton was out of town when Dziagwa hit his mark, but Dziagwa texted him that night.
“I could tell he had a pretty determined mindset about it,” Boynton said.
Dziagwa is taking that same approach into the season. The most verbal of the Cowboys’ captains, Dziagwa has rallied his teammates before and during practices.
The increased leadership responsibilities come with an increased role on the court, as he figures to be a starter for the first time.
“If you look at my first two years, I’ve been in almost every situation, and then this situation’s a little different from all the other ones,” Dziagwa said. “I guess when I talk, guys listen just ’cause I’ve been in their shoes.
“Whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do. This year, team’s asking for me more, so I just have to produce more.”