Sunday, February 1, 2004

College update: Lakota West grad finds place


Dunn's special-needs brother is senior's biggest fan, and vice versa

Click here to e-mail Russell
Andy Dunn enrolled at Mount Vernon Nazarene University with high hopes, zero expectations and a whole lot of motivation.

The summer he transferred from Olivet Nazarene University, the then-sophomore sat in Mount Vernon basketball coach Scott Flemming's office and spoke his mind.

"All I want," Dunn implored, "is a chance."

A chance would be the best Flemming could do, and the offer held no promises. There was little extra scholarship money, no guarantee of playing time and little doubt that Dunn's scant playing time would as a junior varsity player. Still, Flemming relented.

"I knew he was a good player," said Flemming, who had recruited Dunn as a Lakota West senior. "He was a great fit for our school, and everything made sense. If it had been someone else. ... I probably would have said there wasn't enough room."

Three years later, Dunn is averaging a team-high 19.9 points, is shooting 92 percent from the free throw line (72-of-78) and is leading the American Mideast Conference in average 3-pointers per game (four).

The senior guard became the school's 26th player to score 1,000 career points Jan. 20 after playing only two full seasons of Mount Vernon varsity ball. Dunn, who scored 590 points in his first two seasons as a Cougar, has amassed 421 points this season.

Exceeding expectations hasn't been easy for Dunn, a one-time member of the school's baseball team and the student government's vice president of finance. But he sees a role model in one of his most loyal fans: his younger brother, Joel.

"My buddy," Dunn affirmed.

Joel, 19, was born four months premature and weighed 14 ounces. He was diagnosed with a "slight headbleed," and the Dunns' mother, Becky, said he always has had developmental delays. Joel didn't start talking until he was 6, she said.

"There are islands in his brain where he's brilliant, and others that can't be measured," Becky said.

He's also blind. Joel, who travels to all Mount Vernon games with his parents, becomes immersed in the pep band's music and the commentator's voice. Though Joel doesn't understand the logistics of basketball, Andy said he knows one way to reach his brother during games.

"When he hears stats and names and the starting lineups, (Joel) gets so excited when he hears my name. I want to play well so he can hear it," Andy said.

Mount Vernon players were won over promptly by Joel, who amazed them with his auditory perceptions. Joel, who constantly listens to headphones, carries a bag of cassette tapes wherever he goes. The tapes have no labels, but Joel can pick a random cassette out of the bag, shake it, and identify its artist.

"It's hard to explain," Andy said, laughing. "It's what he's famous for."

Andy said his special-needs brother constantly reminds him not to take life for granted. Joel is a reason why Andy doesn't squander opportunities, and a reason why he didn't give up on basketball after a disappointing season at Olivet.

Now the kid who "wanted a chance" has carte blanche on the basketball court.

"He's such a good perimeter shooter. He has the green light to shoot whenever he wants to," Flemming said.

Dunn makes sure to spend a little extra time with Joel when he's not playing ball or doing schoolwork. Though Joel doesn't comprehend his brother's stellar stats, Andy said his presence is enough.

"It does a parent's heart wonders," Becky Dunn said, "to see a child with as much success as Andy's had who doesn't forget his brother."

Others

• Centre College senior cross country runner Colin Muehlenkamp (Highlands) was named All-Southern College Athletic Conference and All-Southeast Region. Muehlenkamp is ranked No. 3 on Centre's all-time individual men's 8K times (26:25).

• Wofford basketball player Brie Bradshaw (Princeton) was selected as the Area Collegiate Player of the Week by the Spartanburg Tip-Off Club. Bradshaw scored a career-high 27 points with four rebounds in the Lady Terriers' Jan. 10 loss to UNC Asheville.

• Miami senior forward Kim Lancaster (Princeton) was named Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week for women's basketball after leading the RedHawks in come-from-behind wins over Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan. Lancaster averaged 20 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals in the two games.

• St. Francis (Pa.) women's basketball players Sarah Bolten (Glen Este) and Karen Hewitt (CHCA) have helped the Red Flash to a six-game winning streak. Bolten averages 11.1 points, and Hewitt averages 8.7.

• Xavier sophomore Kristen Clary was named Atlantic 10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week after winning her singles and doubles matches in a defeat of Akron Jan. 23.

• Lackawanna College sophomore Steve Banks (Western Hills) was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Player of the Week. The 6-foot-4 forward leads the team in scoring (309 points), rebounding (123) and steals (46) and is tied for the lead in blocked shots (15).

• Otterbein senior guard Diana Esterkamp (McAuley), tallied a triple-double and scored her 1,000th career point in an 85-75 win over Heidelberg Wednesday. Esterkamp scored 25 points and had 15 assists and 12 rebounds. She became the first player in Otterbein women's basketball to score 1,000 points and hand out 500 assists in a career.

• Wilmington College's Joe Perkins (Oak Hills) won the 200-yard freestyle (1:54.66) and the 100-yard free (52.47) in last week's 106.5-94.5 defeat of Mount Union College. David Kessler (La Salle) won the 50-yard freestyle in 22.94 and finished second in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:02.72.

• Miami junior forward Ashley Swinehart was named second-team all-region by Soccer Buzz online magazine. She earned the same honor from the National Soccer Coaches' Association of America in December.

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E-mail srussell@enquirer.com




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