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Chuck Landon: Tinnon goes from one-trick workhorse to thoroughbred

Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:31 PM

Dennis Tinnon’s diet?

He eats glass morning, noon and night.

Oh, yeah, and during every Marshall basketball game, too.

The Herd’s 6-foot-8 senior is such a human rebounding machine, he was one of only 21 players in the country who averaged a double-double (10.2 points, 10.0 rebounds) during 2011-12.

But guess what? Tinnon is consuming a more balanced basketball diet this season.

Just ask Nevada.

The Wolf Pack watched in surprise during an 89-82 loss to Marshall on Saturday, as Tinnon stepped outside to go 2-for-3 from 3-point range.

Then, just to prove it was no fluke, Tinnon also connected on 9 of 12 field goal attempts, was a perfect 4-for-4 at the foul line, scored a team-high 24 points and still found time to grab six rebounds, deal two assists, block a shot and make a steal.

Phew.

Not bad for a guy who was once labeled as “just” a rebounder.

But not anymore. The days of Tinnon being a one-trick workhorse are over. Now, he’s a thoroughbred. Tinnon has  transformed himself into an all-around player that has many more facets to his game than just rebounding.

In fact, Tinnon has become a five-tool player. He can play facing the basket and is a legitimate 3-point shooter. He can put the ball on the floor and drive to the cup. He obviously can rebound. But he also can defend and pass.

Count ‘em.

One, two, three, four, five.

Yes, now, Tinnon is indeed a five-tool competitor.

“There is more to my game,” said Tinnon, who is averaging 12.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. “Everybody just knows me as this great rebounder because that’s something that I love to do.

“But against Nevada, I showed a lot of versatility. Hitting shots, going to the cup. ... that’s something I can do.”

To put it in the proper time-frame, it’s something Tinnon can do now. But last season? Well, there’s a reason he concentrated on rebounding.

“Against Nevada,” explained Tinnon, “I showed that I can step out and shoot the three. That is something I worked on all summer. So, coach (Tom Herrion) feels comfortable letting me shoot it.

“This year he is a little more free with letting me shoot the open three. Not forcing anything, but if I have the open shot to shoot it since I’ve been working on it for so long.”

That means Morehead State coach Sean Woods will have to push his players — pun intended — to defend Tinnon on the perimeter when Marshall hosts the Eagles at 7 p.m., Wednesday, in the Henderson Center.

“He has worked really hard,” said Herrion. “He really invested and worked really hard this spring and summer, working to become a more consistent and a little bit deeper shooter.

“He doesn’t look uncomfortable shooting the three. Last year, I know he made the big one at Southern Miss, but he looks a lot more comfortable now.”

Not that Tinnon suddenly is going to pitch a tent and camp out at the 3-point line. He isn’t.

“We don’t want him to live off that, clearly,” said Herrion. “But, now, it can become part of his game. At the end of the day, I want all our players to remember who they are and what they do best.

“Dennis is a junkyard dog, a lunch-pail guy. But he has expanded his game and become more versatile.”

So versatile, in fact, Tinnon isn’t just a rebounder anymore.

Pass the glass, please.

Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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