February 18, 2011

Diebler close to milestone

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Three years ago you never would have known Jon Diebler would have a chance at being the best 3-point shooter in Big Ten history.

If that notion would have seemed possible at any point during Diebler's freshman year, Thad Matta is pretty sure the senior guard would already have the record for most 3-pointers made by a single player in Big Ten history.

"When he does (break the record), I'll probably say it could have happened a year ago if he had shot well as a freshman," Matta joked, drawing a big laugh from everyone in the room.

But there's no joke when looking at the big shots Diebler has made for Ohio State not only this season, but in his career. What is even more startling is the frequency in which they've occurred.

When Ohio State travels to Purdue (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten) on Sunday to take on the No. 11 Boilermakers, Diebler needs just two bury two shots from beyond the arc to become the Big Ten's most prolific 3-point shooter in the league's history.

Diebler enters the game with 331 career 3-pointers, which is just one behind former Penn State guard Pete Lisicky (1994-98).

"It will be kind of cool if it does happen," he said. "I'm sure it will be something I look back on when I'm older, but right now it's not something I think about. I'm just worried about winning games. That's our team's mentality."

Diebler came to Ohio State with the mentality as a scorer. Frankly put, all Diebler did at his high school in Upper Sandusky was score.

By the time his four years in high school were up, Diebler had just over 3,200 career points, breaking the all-time Ohio high school scoring record. In 2007, Diebler was named the Ohio AP Mr. Basketball.

But in his freshman season at Ohio State, Diebler's shot didn't come as naturally to him as it did in high school. Coming off the bench for the Buckeyes as a lanky first-year player, Diebler struggled from beyond the arc, making just 29 percent of those shots.

Matta, however, never lost faith. Diebler has improved his percentage drastically in the time since, shooting 41.6 percent from behind the arc as a sophomore and 42 percent last year. This season Diebler is shooting a career-high 48.1 percent from 3-point range.

"I've always said this about Jon. When you coach players and you see how hard they work, even when they're working hard and you're not watching, you want those guys to be rewarded," Matta said. "If and when (setting the record) happens, I'll be as excited as ever because I know what he's done and what he's put in to get that."

Diebler has been the staple of some very solid teams under Matta in the last four seasons and currently averages 11 points per game for this year's Buckeyes (25-1, 12-1), currently ranked No. 2 in the country.

Since first suiting up for Ohio State, Diebler has played in 133 games and has made a 3-pointer in 42-straight games. Scoring almost 1,400 points in his career, Diebler will go down as one of the most prolific scorers in Ohio State history.

But in his final season with the Buckeyes, Diebler is worried only about the next thing he can control - helping Ohio State knock off Purdue Sunday.

"With (David Lighty) breaking the record for all-time wins it was something he never talked about," Diebler said, "Obviously it was a great accomplishment for him and if I am fortunate enough to break the record it will be a great accomplishment for me. It is something we don't put that No. 1 on our goals. If it happens it happens."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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