‘I can’t have bad days:’ Dennis’ energy and toughness remains a constant


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

Junior Dexter Dennis gives a thumbs-up during the game against Tulsa on Feb. 1 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Dexter Dennis went 2-for-11 from the field during Tuesday’s win against Tulsa but head coach Isaac Brown’s confidence never wavered in the junior guard. 

No player questioned his value in crunch time, because of what Dennis brings on the defensive end. Dennis never lets his offense impact his defense and it showed once again on Tuesday. 

The Baker, Louisiana native continued to bring energy on defense — something he’s been known for during his four year career.

“I can’t recall a game in the two years I’ve been here that he’s slacked up on defense,” teammate Ricky Council IV said. “He usually guards the best player and is shutting him down every night.”

Dennis limited Tulsa’s leading scorer Jeriah Horne to two points, while also collecting two steals and two blocks in the win. Coming into the game, Horne was averaging 16.8 points per game.

Junior Dexter Dennis shoots a three-pointer during the game against Tulsa on Feb. 1 inside Charles Koch Arena. (Sean Marty / The Sunflower)

Dennis has been known for shutting down the best players in the AAC over the last couple years and Tuesday was another example of that. After Tulsa’s Sam Griffin scored 14 points in the first half, WSU put Dennis on him and Griffin was held to three points after halftime.

“He’s one of the best on-ball defenders in our conference,” Brown said. “A guy that understands scouting reports. A guy that is always in the right spot. Dexter did a tremendous job on (Horne). Griffin got it going early, and we put Dexter on him some and he slowed him down.”

Dennis’ ability to maintain his defensive effort during a tough shooting night has stood out during his Shocker career. He said that’s something that was instilled in him once he arrived on campus as a freshman.

“It’s something that was taught every day,” Dennis said. “One thing I know for sure – every day is effort, energy and enthusiasm. That’s something you can control whether you’re having a good day or not. I try to bring that every day.”

Dennis’ career has been marked by his energy and toughness, which has transformed him into one the top Shocker defenders in recent years. WSU still has more work to do after their slow start in conference play, but the team views Tuesday’s performance as a start.

Dennis realizes how valuable his defense is to the team and will need more performances like Tuesday down the stretch. He finished with 8 points in 35 minutes, while helping  widen the Shocker advantage late with a key three-pointer.

“I can’t have bad days,” Dennis  said. “It’s a big responsibility. I’ve still got to do more.”

Junior Dexter Dennis looks to pass during the game against Tulsa on Feb. 1 inside Charles Koch Arena. (Sean Marty / The Sunflower)

The Shockers have been struggling to finish out close games, with the last three losses coming by a combined six points. WSU has turned it around in February in years past, with the Shockers owning the third best winning percentage over the past decade in that month. 

Dennis views Tuesday’s win as a start to getting back on track. 

“Obviously we’ve been struggling a little bit, but just getting a win at home and try to build on it, for us is pretty good,” Dennis said. “Obviously we’ve got more to do but it’s a start.”