Great day for Graessle
Joe Graessle sat on the trainer’s table. His feet were in a bucket of ice water, and his hand was wrapped in an ice pack.
It was possible he was just cooling off after a sizzling performance.
Graessle, the only player in Division II who is in the top 10 nationally points and steals, put on an all-around clinic Saturday in Tiffin’s 98-92 win over Ohio Dominican at the Gillmor Center.
Graessle made 13 of 18 shots from the floor, which included six 3-pointers. He was a perfect 4 of 4 from the free throw line, and had a career-high nine assists and a TU record eight steals.
“I feel like I played a complete basketball game today,” Graessle said. “I had a good matchup against me.”
“I’m just pleased with the way he played,” Hill said of his junior star. “(The Panthers) know they have to stop him, but when you shoot 6 of 8 3-pointers, you shoot 13 of 18… he only missed five shots.”
The Dragons needed every bit of that effort. They led by as many as 21, and had a 17-point advantage with 4:18 left. But the Panthers did what they have done before against TU – make a mad dash in the final minutes, turning what looked like a blowout into a 4-point game in the final seconds.
Morgan Jones helped lead the Ohio Dominican charge. He made five 3-pointers in the loss and finished with five 3s. Bobby Stauffer, the Panthers’ center, finished with 24 points, eight rebounds.
“I think we definitely let up, thought we had it in the bag,” Graessle said. “As a team overall, (we) got a little sloppy.”
But TU prevailed because – as great as Graessle was Saturday – he didn’t do it alone.
Hill starts a pair of freshmen in forwards Eric Roby and Jonathan Sutherlin. Both played very well, with Roby making all four 3-pointers he attempted on his way to 16 points. Sutherlin had eight points and five rebounds. A third freshman, Khaleal McCormick, continued his string of impressive games with a 17-point, five rebound effort.
“We can’t win with Joe alone,” Hill said. “Khaleal McCormick has just really stepped up the last couple games … it’s tremendous. Roby, again, is shooting lights out.
“(Sutherlin) had a great game. Just really pleased with his development.”
Roby gave credit to his teammates for his point total.
“On the offensive game, I’m knocking down my shots, but it’s not me,” Roby said. “It’s my teammates creating the shots and making my defender come and help them. When Joe drives, when Mike Boan drives, they’re pulling my guy off, which is leaving me wide open.”
Mike Brown had six points and six assists as TU improved to 8-13, 5-10 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. ODU fell to 4-16, 1-14.
TU’s next game will be a big one, as it travels to Michigan Thursday for a game at a tough Hillsdale team.
Hill was asked what TU needs to do to pull the upset.
“It’s all on the defensive end,” Hill said. “We scored points against Hillsdale here, couldn’t stop ’em.”