Olympians forward’s approach: More mental than physical

Dane Denniston isn’t the most talented or athletically-gifted player on the Columbus East boys basketball team.

But the 6-foot-3 senior forward contributes by always being in the right spot on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. He knows where to be and has the ability to get his teammates in the right spots, as well.

“I’ve always been kind of more on the mental side than the physical side,” Denniston said. “I like to watch film on the other teams, so I know what they’re doing. It gives me an advantage defensively. I may not be the most athletic guy, but I can outthink some people.”

Denniston likes to study the game. He watches college and pro basketball and and tries to pick up on what players are doing.

East coach Brent Chitty said Denniston has a high basketball IQ, is very smart, understands the game and recognizes what’s going on.

“He’s a great team guy. He gives quality minutes. We expect big things from him.”

Chitty called Denniston a very fundamental player around the basket with a nice jump shot. Denniston knows his role is to be a leader, help teammates know where they’re supposed to be, play defense and rebound and score if the opportunity presents itself.

So far, scoring has come only in the form of two free-throws in a season-opening win at Noblesville for the first-year varsity player.

“It’s been a somewhat difficult transition (from JV to varsity), but I’m getting used to it,” Denniston said. “My nerves are settling down. It’s definitely a faster pace, but I think I can handle it.”

Denniston is not planning to play basketball in college. The 4.0 student likely will attend Indiana University or Ball State.

In the meantime, he’ll try to help the Olympians win as many games as they can, beginning with Friday’s home contest against Columbus North.

“I just want to be able to do whatever I can to help our team,” Denniston said. “I want to focus on my defense, especially — ‘Don’t allow any points scored on me, don’t allow any offensive rebounds.’ And as a team, I’d really like to win a sectional championship my senior year.”

If you go

What: Columbus North vs. Columbus East boys basketball

When: Friday (6 p.m. junior varsity and freshman, 7:30 p.m. varsity)

Where: Columbus East High School main gym (JV and varsity) and auxiliary gym (freshman)

Admission: $5

Dane Denniston

Name: Dane Denniston

School: Columbus East

Year: Senior

Height: 6-foot-3

Sport: Basketball

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.