Many student athletes can not wait for the off-season to begin because it provides them the opportunity to relax and recuperate from the wear and tear from the previous season. While these student athletes might have a work attitude that many of us can relate to, Dexter Gray can not relate.
Gray spent the entire off-season improving himself both on the court and in the weight room.
“I just did whatever coach (Norm Roberts) told me to do,” the sophomore forward said. “I spent a lot of time in the gym working on my lower body, and working on my game on the court.”
In his first season with the Red Storm last year, Gray was fifth on the team in points-per-game (6.0), second in rebounds (4.7) and second in blocks (0.8).
Although these numbers appear to be very solid, Gray insists that he wants to keep improving and wants to better his play from last year.
“Last season taught me how to play with energy,” Gray said. “It taught me how to play hard and stay focused. This year is going to be the same kind of excitement.”
In his rookie season, Gray depended on energy to help compensate for his lack of height compared to those he defended. At 6-foot-7, Gray is an undersized power forward.
“Being smaller than my competition is an advantage for me,” he said. “I know that I can use my quickness and speed to take them outside and create match-up problems for the other team.”
Since this year’s theme for the basketball team seems to be athleticism and versatility, Gray should fit right in, and according to coach Norm Roberts, he will.
“He’s a very smart player,” Roberts said. “He plays bigger than he really is, and his improvements over the summer can already be seen. Last year Dexter covered guys with his quickness and speed more than with his size. He’s going to be an impact guy for us this year, and he should play a lot of minutes for us.”
Playing a lot of minutes is something that Gray is not a stranger to. Last year he was fourth on the team with 27.3 minutes a game.
Playing that many minutes on the court has allowed Gray to gain some familiarity with the team, and more specifically, with point guard Daryll Hill.
“Dexter is a good player to have,” Hill said. “He gets me free with good screens, and he is definitely strong enough to body any big man out there. He got a lot quicker during the off season, and his post moves have really improved.”
According to Roberts, Gray promises to be a very integral part of this year’s team.
“Even if he puts up the same points as last year,” Roberts said, “his improved defense and speed will allow him to have a better year than last year.”