Wilkinson improving play on the road

Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson readily admits he’s quite comfy at the Smith Spectrum where the Aggies are 14-0 this season. At the same time, he concedes he’s not quite a road warrior, but he he working hard to become one.
It’s not like the 6-foot-9 center is awful on the road. Recently he’s been quite good. In all he’s averaging 11.6 points and just over six rebounds on the road, while at home he is averaging 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds. But he wants to get better and be more of a force away from home.
The Aggies are 3-6 in road games (2-1 in WAC games) and 1-1 in neutral-court games.
Wilkinson’s worst road game came at the South Padre Island Classic against Iowa in which he had four points and three rebounds in the 75-62 victory, while he had his best game at home against Nevada when he scored a career-high 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
“I don’t know what it is (playing on the road). I’ve thought about that a lot,” he said, following Utah State’s 85-80 loss at Nevada last Monday. “I think I’m starting to make steps in the right direction. At Irvine and other places I didn’t but I’m getting a little more confidence and learning what it takes to win on the road. That’s the bottom line. I’m learning how to win on the road in the WAC.”
The proof is in the numbers.
Wilkinson, who is averaging 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds for the season, scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his first road game at Weber State on Nov. 11. Since then, he’s scored more than 20 points only one other time and has grabbed eight rebounds or more just three more times.
After going through a four-game road stretch where he scored 2, 7, 6 and 4 points, he’s scored in double figures the last six times.
At home, he has scored in doubles figures 12 of the 14 times, in two of the last three homes games he’s recorded two of this three double-doubles. One of his three double-doubles came on the road.
“(It’s) a mindset,” Wilkinson said is the difference between playing at home and on the road.
“At home you feel comfortable and have the home crowd at the Spectrum – you know the court and feel comfortable shooting on the rims. The bottom line in when you go on the road you need to buckle down and play defense, and that’s what I’ve figured out for me.”
First and foremost, he’s going to take the defensive approach.
“Who cares about putting the ball in the basket – just try to defend and rebound the ball,” he said. “If I can get that part of my game everything else comes, and that’s what I personally need to do.”

Leave a comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.