Ohio played Sunday’s game without elite shooter Jordan Dartis.
But midway through the first half, guard James Gollon reminded Ohio that Dartis wasn’t the only shooter on the team. Gollon made three 3-pointers in a span of 100 seconds, throwing up three fingers after the last one went through the net.
“Jimmy G for three,” roared PA announcer Lou Horvath.
Gollon never doubted his ability to shoot the ball or impact the game during his early-season slump (28 percent from 3-point range entering Sunday's game). But that doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy showing it off during Ohio’s 89-84 win at The Convo, a game where he set a new career high by scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
“It felt great,” Gollon said. “I was feeling myself a little bit.”
Gollon is finally getting back to normal on the court. He downplayed his early season struggles at practice Saturday, saying he knew he would improve.
But his actions on the court before Sunday told a different story.
He looked indecisive when catching passes. He passed to teammates when open shots were right in front of him. So much so, in fact, that coach Saul Phillips threatened to bench Gollon after the Maryland game if he didn’t shoot more often and with more confidence.
“How’s that for an ultimatum,” Philips said. “I know my coach never had to tell me that.”
Without Dartis and with Jason Carter still playing restricted minutes, Phillips knew his offense would need a boost from an unusual source. He also knew a breakout game would expand Gollon's confidence.
The two needs just happened to be met on the same day.
“Somebody needed to imitate Jordan Dartis tonight,” Phillips said. “(Gollon) did a pretty good job of that.”
Nobody was happier for Gollon than Dartis himself, if his bench celebrations were any indication. Dartis was the first player off the bench after each of Gollon’s 3-point makes, clapping vigorously and smiling widely at his fill-in’s success.
He was also the first person to greet Gollon when he walked back to the bench after his 3-point barrage forced a Western Kentucky timeout. His instructions to Gollon?
“Shoot,” Gollon said. “(Dartis told me to) shoot.”
Gollon’s teammates will need to stay on him. He only took four more shots the rest of the game, and none in the first half after his third three went through the net with 10:38 remaining.
Gollon said he didn’t care about his lack of opportunities during the rest of the game. Some of it was the nature of Western Kentucky’s switching zone defense. Phillips said the shots come at random for everyone in his system.
“But I would of liked to see (Gollon), obviously, get a couple more shots,” he added.
Regardless, Gollon needed the confidence from Sunday’s game to be the impact bench scorer Ohio wants him to be. Phillips called Gollon one of the best shooters he’s ever coached during the preseason. Sunday’s game provided a glimpse of what Phillips meant.
Gollon downplayed his successes Sunday just like he downplayed his struggles early in the season. That’s how he overcomes overthinking: low on emotions, no matter the outcome.
“I’m trying not to get too hyped up about it,” Gollon said. “Don’t get too high; don’t get too low.”