Dec. 18, 2012
Dillon Starzl leading the way
By David Boyce
During the Christmas holiday season, spending time with the family tops any gift or thoughts about upcoming games if you are a college athlete.
That is why it’s nice for Northwest Missouri State and all student-athletes that there is a mandatory week off without games and practice.
For Northwest junior forward Dillon Starzl, that means returning home to Kearney, Mo., and perhaps playing a 1-on-1 game of basketball with his younger brother, Dray Starzl.
More likely, the two brothers will spend time together and talk basketball. Dray Starzl is a junior at Kearney.
“He doesn’t like to post up much, but he can,” Dillon said. “He likes to step out and shoot that three and drive.”
Even though Dillon is focused on being a student-athlete at Northwest and the starting forward on the No. 10 team in Division II, Dillon still finds time to keep track of his brother.
Two weeks ago when the Bearcats were still undefeated, Dillon was able to find some free time to watch Dray play in the Liberty North Invitational on ESPN3.
“I text him before every game and call him after every game so I try to keep up as much as I can,” Dillon said.
It would be wise for Dray to soak up the words of his older brother. Dillon has come far since graduating from Kearney and he was a solid player in high school.
In his senior season, Dillon helped Kearney win a state basketball title in Missouri. He arrived at Northwest in 2010 with high school teammates Tyler Funk and Grant Cozad and plenty of accolades.
“I’ve been playing with them seven or eight years,” Dillon said. “We know each other. We are good friends. We know what each other can do on the floor. We look for each other on the floor. It’s that good friendship, teammate mentality.”
Dillon was Suburban Small Six MVP and first-team All-State. He shot 63 percent from the field while averaging 13 points per game.
College basketball, though, is different, faster. Players need time to adjust. In his first two seasons, Starzl averaged 5.6 points both years. His rebounding increased from 3.3 to 4.4.
If a college basketball player pays attention to his coaches and works hard throughout the year, the junior season is where you see the most dramatic improvement.
Dillon is a prime example of it. He is averaging 13.6 points and is leading the team in rebounding at 5.8.
“He has improved a ton,” Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. “When he first came here, he wasn’t in as good shape as he is now. He is in the best shape of his life. He communicates well. He is becoming more of a leader. He can grow even more and he will.”
Dillon’s play in the post is one reason why Northwest is 8-2 at the break. Although the Bearcats lost their last two games in Hawaii a few days ago, they head into 2013 as one of the teams that will challenge for the conference title. Northwest won its first two MIAA games.
After they play Central Methodist on Dec. 29, the Bearcats will spend the rest of the regular season facing MIAA teams. The start of 2013 will be tough for Northwest, which plays its first three games of the new year on the road.
Northwest only has two home games in January and the second one isn’t until Jan. 31.
None of this should bother Starzl. He has been through just about every scenario in his three years at Northwest. In his freshman season, the Bearcats played their first four conference games on the road.
The Bearcats now have to deal with their first little bump in a long season.
Northwest has the ingredients to quickly overcome the mini losing streak.
“We try to do what we can together,” Dillon said. “We are like a big family. I think we are moving the ball well because Matt Wallace is a true passing point guard. He really looks inside and gives us open looks.”
It is easy to look inside when you have a go-to player like Dillon.
“He has been playing really well,” McCollum said. “He has been scoring well. He does a lot of things like sealing in the post, opening driving lanes for our guards. Defensively, we are able to put him on top post players and he has been able to shut them down. He has great feet in the post.
“He has really good touch. If you put him in a three-point shooting contest with a lot of our guards, he will win it.
“He’s very vital. He brings so much. He always knows what is going on.”
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
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