McLeod soaring again for Hawks
Josh McLeod had broken the fifth metatarsal on his left foot four times. "Injuries have been something that's just killed me since high school," McLeod said. The broken metatarsal - the bone which connects ankle tendons and the pinky toe - caused...
Josh McLeod had broken the fifth metatarsal on his left foot four times.
"Injuries have been something that's just killed me since high school," McLeod said.
The broken metatarsal - the bone which connects ankle tendons and the pinky toe - caused McLeod to sit out the past two seasons at Dickinson State.
So when the senior men's basketball player had his right knee sideswiped by a University of Great Falls player in just the second game this season, he just figured he was in store for another injury-rittled year.
The knee swelled up and McLeod missed the next four games. But he stayed away from a doctor's office.
"I was supposed to get an MRI, but never did. I was kind of scared," McLeod said. "I didn't want to hear what they had to say."
McLeod knew his body well. The knee quickly healed and he was back on the court.
Fast forward more than two months and McLeod is red hot, shooting 52 percent from beyond the 3-point line and averaging 12.5 points in DSU's last seven games.
McLeod is averaging less than 10 points and shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers this season.
"He just looks comfortable out there now," DSU coach Scott Berry said. "He's just now getting used to the speed of the game again. So it looks like he's ready to shoot when he gets the ball. He doesn't seem rushed or bothered. His confidence is there."
McLeod attributes this to improving the way he sets up his shot.
"When I was coming off screens, I was coming too high," said the 5-foot-10 gunner. "I'm coming off screens real low now so I can explode up and shoot - have my feet ready at all times."
And as McLeod improved, so did the Blue Hawks. They're 4-3 in the last seven games and are climbing the Dakota Athletic Conference standings.
Last Saturday, the Blue Hawks bumped off DAC leader Valley City State 84-77 on their home court.
"That win gave us a lot of confidence," McLeod said. "It showed us we could play with anybody."
DSU enters this weekend's games against Black Hills State and South Dakota Tech tied for fifth place with Minot State and have a home playoff game in its sights.
Three straight victories to close out their regular season - and a lot of help from other teams - and the Blue Hawks (8-16, 5-6 DAC) could finish as high as second in the conference.
Berry said if someone would have told him the team could finish that high when the Blue Hawks were still trying to get healthy a month ago, he would have laughed it off.
"We're past that now. ... The guys are starting to play well together," Berry said. "I think they're feeling comfortable with each other and what they can and can't do."
The coach said the Blue Hawks owe much of that success and improvement to McLeod, who stepped into the starting lineup in place of the battered Donny English.
English, an All-American forward was struggling out of the starting lineup due to chronic knee problems.
"That's when we made the decision," Berry said. "Let's put Josh in there, give him more time and try to get him more comfortable shooting the ball."
Cameron Rowland, McLeod's first cousin and teammate, thinks that if McLeod can stay hot through the playoffs, the Blue Hawks could be a team no one wants to play.
"I think he's bringing back that fire and energy to win, especially bringing back that 3-point shot," Rowland said. "A lot of teams are going to have to worry about him, especially when he's shooting well. He's got that confidence right now. So its definitely helping the team."