Love leads Owls by example

Delbert Love vs. North Florida

“Explosion.” That was the first word Delbert Love used when I asked what he was working on this off-season. That word might also be the one to describe the increased offensive output that many predict will take place for the Love fueled Owls in the 2012-2013 season.

There is a lot of optimism around the team right now and I could tell by the tone in Love’s voice that he thinks the future is looking good at Kennesaw State. The Owls are returning their top three players from last year and are adding a talented freshman class to the mix.

A native of Cleveland Ohio, Love attended nationally recognized St. Edward High School for all four years and was a teammate of former Michigan State Spartan Delvon Roe and class of 2013 standout Elijah Brown, the son of Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown. “(St. Edward Head Coach) Eric Flannery is one of the best coaches in Ohio and in the country,” said Love. Under Flannery’s tutelage, Love captained his team during his senior year and led them to the Ohio Division I state tournament by averaging 17 points per contest.

Love’s solid foundation of fundamentals and understanding of the nuances of basketball helped him transition successfully during his freshman season at Kennesaw State when he averaged 12.4 points, 3 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.1 three point field goals per game to go along with shooting 34.1% from beyond the arc.

Everybody at the Division 1 (D1) level of basketball has some kind of special talent but that doesn’t mean everybody will succeed. There are many players in D1 basketball who can match and raise Love’s size and speed, but if the one thing that sets him apart from many others is his desire to get better. That is one of the qualities that helped him become one of the Owls three team captains during his freshman season; “It means a lot to me, Coach Preston trusted me to make the right decisions and be a leader out there and not let my team down.”

A typical weekday in the life of Delbert Love involves waking up at 5:20am, working out at 6am, going to class and then heading back to the gym in the evening. Love informed me that he shoots anywhere from 700 to 1,000 shots per day. If those numbers sound familiar it’s because Kobe Bryant told that he shoots between 700 to 1,000 made shots per day. Having a similar routine to arguably the greatest player to ever play the game can only bode well for him.

Specifically, one of the things he is working on this off-season is his explosion, which involves “first step movement, getting my crossover quicker, and really getting my shot up quicker.”

In addition to explosion, he emphasized conditioning, “I played around 30 something minutes last year and it really took a toll on me, but I’ve been working hard this off-season to make sure I’m in better shape to be prepared for whatever happens this year.” It’s apparent to me that Love isn’t exaggerating, as he looks to have added muscle onto a leaner frame; the updated roster page lists him as ten pounds heavier than last year’s weight.

This coming year Love wants to make better decisions with the basketball, “My one goal that’s been on my mind for a long time is to cut down on turnovers. I think I averaged around three (turnovers) and I was only averaging about three and a half assists, that’s not really a good ratio.” Last season he played point guard which he was pushed into because of circumstances, but began to feel more comfortable in the role later in the season.

The additions of freshmen guards Yonel Brown and Myles Hamilton will mean the ball won’t have to be in Love’s hands as much as it was this past season, however, the 2011-2012 experience that was gained at the position could prove to be invaluable and undoubtedly adds to the roster’s versatility. We will see a lot of three guard looks from the Owls this year and having a trio of players who can handle the ball and get to the basket could make for some exciting fast paced match-ups in the Atlantic Sun conference.

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