March 2, 2009

Dagunduro has become NU's top offensive threat

In his two seasons at Nebraska, senior guard Ade Dagunduro has been called upon to play just about every part he could possibly play.

Last season, it was a lockdown defender, and then it was the slasher who could take the ball to the basket. This season, he was asked to essentially take over in the low post essentially as power forward, despite standing just 6 feet, 5 inches.

He's had to be one of the team's top rebounders, shot blockers and at times defend players as many as 6 inches and 100 pounds bigger than him. As a senior, he's taken over as one of NU's more vocal leaders, and over the course of the past two months, as also become the Huskers' primary source of offense.

In just two short years, Dagunduro has built up quite the resume on the basketball court. As for how much his versatility has contributed to Nebraska's success, head coach Doc Sadler said few players have been as valuable as the Inglewood, Calif., native.

"First of all, athletically, any time you're that type of athlete you've got a chance to be a good player," Sadler said. "The more success that he's had, he's just continued to grow, and it just builds on itself. He's been a good player for us, and he's played about as well as he can play."

While he's worn plenty of different hats since coming to Nebraska from junior college in 2007, his emergence as the Huskers' top scoring threat in recent weeks has arguably been the most noticeable.

So far, Dagunduro has scored in double figures in 18 of NU's 28 games this season, including nine of its past 10. During this past 10-game stretch, he's been at his very best, averaging 15.5 points per contest.

Dagunduro credits his recent hot streak to simply becoming more comfortable with his move from the perimeter to the post, saying his confidence on the offensive end is night and day better from what it was earlier in the year.

In fact, Dagunduro pointed to the Huskers' win over Saint Louis on Nov. 25 in particular as the moment when he first started to see what he needed to do to better contribute in the scoring department. Coincidently, his 14 points that night marked the first time he scored in double figures this season.

"It definitely was the Saint Louis game," Dagunduro said. "Earlier in the year, I was scoring much. It wasn't because I was struggling - I knew I wasn't struggling - it was just that I wasn't taking a lot of shots. I was still trying to get a feel for that four spot, and I knew once the games really started picking up I was going to have to step up regardless.

"I was a little insecure with playing the four spot, not knowing where to get my shots. Do I post up all the time or what? So it was just a matter of taking it game by game and getting a feel for it… I knew me and Steve Harley were going to be looked to to score quite a few points for us, so I knew either me or him was going to be the one to have to carry us."

Dagunduro's impact was never clearer than in Nebraska's loss to Kansas State on Saturday. While making a move to the basket that would've resulted in a lay-up to cut NU's deficit to two points with just over a minute to play, he was called for his fifth and final foul.

With Ade in foul trouble for the majority of the game and on the bench for the most crucial minute, the Huskers didn't seem nearly as comfortable offensively, as turnovers, rebounding and rushed shots plagued them down the stretch.

For the Huskers to find a way to end this season on a high note, there's little question who's shoulder they'll have to ride on to make it happen.

"Anytime your team has any success, you better have some seniors playing their best," Sadler said. "Ade has picked up the scoring for us. You've got to have somebody score."

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