LYNCHBURG - Before Tuesday's game against Liberty VMI senior Stan Okoye clapped his hands with the rest of his teammates as they huddled together before taking the floor. He told them, "Let's go men. Big night. Big night." He was correct. The Keydets won 83-66 and he scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as VMI ended a six-game losing streak. "Coach reminded me before the game that he believed in me and that meant a lot to me and he actually reminded me again that guys feed off my energy so I felt like it was important for me to go out and perform very well," he said after the game.
Big South Conference awards will be handed out next week and it'll be hard to overlook Okoye. The senior leads the conference in points and rebounds and if Tuesday's game was any indication he can beat you in so many ways.
Coach Duggar Baucom said, "He really has a lot of weapons. For a kid who never shot a three-pointer in high school to go 6-for-9 is pretty good and he can take people off the dribble, he got some stick backs, he got some and-ones, got fouled on a three-pointer so I'm just pleased for him and happy for him."
Okoye concedes that he did take a few outside shots in high school but said himself "I was far from a shooter." That has changed. "Stan's a great player. He's so versatile. He can score in so many ways so if I give him the ball, I'm just going to let Stan do Stan because that's what he does best for our team. His length is so valuable to him and because when he gets in there a lot of guys can't block his shot because he can make so many acrobatic layups," teammate Rodney Glasgow said.
With one regular season game to go Okoye is averaging 21 points and 9 rebounds a game and he says it has hit him that he's playing his final games at VMI. "Time is now. There's no greater time to get a win. All the games that happened in the past, they're gone. So we can't get those back and the main thing is to focus on Saturday and focus again on the tournament. It'll be big for us to get rolling like we did last year." That run ended in the conference finals. If VMI wants to make it further they'll need Okoye at his best.