Veteran Sibert pushing Dayton forward
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The dual role of basketball coach and big brother is especially stressful for Logan Brogden this month.
"I’m living and dying by every shot," said Brogden, an assistant coach at Div. II Tiffin University in Northwest Ohio and the brother of Dayton star Jordan Sibert.
Current status, by the way, is "living." And living well. Dayton plays Friday night vs. Providence in Nationwide Arena, having advanced via a 56-55 comeback win over Boise State Wednesday night in the First Four capped by a Sibert 3-pointer.
Held to just 24 minutes in that game by foul trouble, Sibert still extended his streak of scoring in double digits to 11 games. Dayton trailed by seven with 3:43 left but got the winning points on a Sibert jumper from the top of the key with 34 seconds left.
The play was designed for Sibert. From his seat in UD Arena, Brogden knew it was coming.
"I absolutely knew the set," Brogden said. "I saw Jordan set a cross screen, then the pick comes for him, and he makes the read."
He did. It did.
Survive and advance.
"I know there’s more basketball for Jordan out there, wherever that may be, in the coming years," Brogden said. "But to be honest, we’ve trained for this year. He’s spent a long time working to be a great college basketball player, and that pit in my stomach when I watch is because this is his last go around
"We all know only one team can win the national title. It’s going to end eventually. But I am happy to see him doing what he loves and for the team to keep winning. He got in foul trouble (vs. Boise State) and that would have been awful if they had lost. He got his chance to erase that and keep them playing, and he did."
Said Sibert: "Getting in foul trouble (vs. Boise State), I still tried to be as vocal as I could and motivate any way I could. My teammates did a great job listening to whatever I had to say. And they handled themselves well on the floor. They played tough and they stuck together regardless whether I was out there or not."
Sibert left Ohio State after two seasons, having fallen out of the rotation in the second half of Ohio State’s 2012 Final Four run. He became one of Archie Miller’s first — and best — recruits at Dayton, and after sitting out 2013 he averaged 12.2 points for a Dayton team that went to the Elite Eight last season and is averaging 16.4 this season.
Maybe he never got comfortable at Ohio State after a leg injury in his senior season at Cincinnati Princeton High School, or maybe Sibert just needed to grow up. Today, he’s a stronger, more confident player who wants the ball in the biggest moments.
His final NCAA tournament qualifies as a big moment.
"Jordan has really evolved," Miller said. "Jordan wasn’t a very confident guy when we got him. And he took a year to work with him and develop and he worked very hard on his shot. I think that’s the first thing that he took care of; he became a consistent shooter.
"And I think last year, playing the first time with a real big role, he was able to play through the season and gain the confidence that he belonged again. This offseason, to his credit, was the best offseason that he’s ever had. He gets to the foul line a lot more. He’s a better handler. He’s stronger. When you’re a fifth-year senior, you’re different, the game is slower for you. I think as we’ve been able to win games and gain confidence, he’s just become that guy for us. He’s had an all-star all year for us and I’m happy for him. He did it the old-fashioned way."
Brogden said his brother getting healthy, seeing the game in a different light during his transfer year and getting physically stronger over the last two years has helped his brother blossom.
"What’s different? Just maturity," Brogden said. "Jordan is a quiet guy, and people sometimes think that means he’s not open or passionate. What he is…is almost a perfectionist. He’s hard on himself. He wants to do everything right all the time.
"I think it was just growing up, like every kid does. It was handling success and handling adversity. It was learning a little bit that it’s to not be perfect but to keep pushing yourself. He loved Ohio State. He loved the people, the campus. The only problem was he wasn’t playing, and he had to make a decision."
Four Dayton NCAA tournament wins later, his decision looks like a good one.
The biggest game — they come one at a time — comes Friday night.
"Going back to Columbus is great," Sibert said. "It’s great just to be in the tournament still. And going to Columbus, it doesn’t really matter where we go as long as we’re in the tournament and we can keep advancing. That’s all we care about."