Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Tennessee Tech SF Dennis Ogbe about being the best shooter in the OVC.
You lost your leading scorer from last year (Jud Dillard) who finished 2nd in the OVC in scoring. How will your team be able to fill the offensive void left by the departure of such a great scorer? Jud is a great player and teammate and we will miss him this season. I think that we have brought the right guys in so that we can distribute those missing 20 points among more scorers. This year we have a lot of guys who are able to score, so more guys will share the scoring load.
Next month you play at Tennessee, how do you prepare your team to face an SEC squad? We do not do anything special for high-major teams: in the end it is 10 guys on the court that will have to battle it out. We will scout them like we scout every other team and we will prepare for them like we prepare for every other team on our schedule.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? I believe that we will have a better season than the last one. We have brought in good talent and the returning guys have taken steps forward over the summer. We ended last season with a bitter taste in our mouths and we are hungry for some wins.
You grew up in Germany, how did you first get into the sport of basketball, and how did you end up in Cookeville? It all started in third grade when I discovered little plastic basketball goals in the activity room during our afternoon break in school. That is also where I met my good friend Sebastian Koch (who plays for Elon). We had epic slam dunk contests on a five foot tall goal! During that time his mom was putting together a basketball squad to compete with other local club teams: since I was never really good at soccer and wanted to play a ball game, I was in. I have been playing basketball ever since and as I grew older I kept advancing to higher levels of play. When it was time to graduate high school I knew that I did not want to go pro just yet. I always loved the college game so I decided to put my name out there for college coaches to see me. After some recruiting magic I realized that TTU would be the right fit for me.
You play for Coach Steve Payne, what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing that you ever learned from him? Coach Payne really knows what it takes to win. I believe that he has the right philosophy on every aspect of the college game: share the ball, play with a high IQ, be poised on defense, and take care of your off-the-court business. He is a great person and a great basketball coach and I will miss playing for him after this year. 1 of the most important things that I have learned from him is how important mental toughness is. When things do not go your way in a game the easy thing to do is to back down and complain. Coach Payne taught me that good players have to overcome adversity and stay positive no matter what.
You played in 30 games as a freshman, how were you able to come in and contribute right from the start? I played at a high level of competition back home: there are a lot of good players in the various German leagues. I had a hard time adjusting to the overall physicality of the college game, but I believe that the fundamentals that my coaches in Germany taught me enabled me to contribute to the team as a freshman.
Last year you led the OVC with 61.3 FG% and the team with 40.6 three point percentage. What is your secret for being a great shooter? I believe that you have to focus on your technique more than anything when you are in the gym getting shots up. I love individual shooting workouts with our coaches. They can be short but you always have someone there who can correct your feet, shoulders, arms, etc. I was taught that the secret to being a great shooter is to use the same technique every single time. Practicing this requires a lot of focus but will help in the long run. I also believe that when you feel good about yourself you will make shots. I just stay calm and confident and believe that I am going to make every shot.
You had a birthday last month, what did you do for the big day? Between practice and classes I did not really have the time to do anything special. I went out to dinner with my girlfriend and just had a nice, laid-back night. I will have more than enough time for festivities after the season!