DiNunno pilots Eastern Kentucky’s hot start
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Mike DiNunno says he got lucky.
The 5-11 fifth-year senior point guard was transferring after two seasons at Northern Illinois and planned to play at Division II Quincy (Ill.) before Luke Strege left the program to become Eastern Kentucky’s assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Naturally, DiNunno went for a visit to Richmond, Ky., and found what he likes to call “the perfect fit” for him to keep playing Division I basketball.
DiNunno’s style of play — a speedy point guard with a quick trigger jump shot and instinctual passing skills — has fit Eastern Kentucky perfectly. He’s piloted coach Jeff Neubauer’s Colonels to a 14-3 record this season with 14.5 points and 4.5 assists per game, while shooting 43% shooting from three-point range.
Eastern Kentucky made headlines earlier this season with its impressive 9-0 start. Then the Colonels were easily handled by Illinois and fell to measly North Carolina A&T for back-to-back losses. EKU finished the non-conference season 10-3, but it still seemed like a fast start that would slow down once Ohio Valley Conference play started up.
Then Eastern Kentucky beat Murray State on the road 77-65 last week for a “statement win.” Most impressively, the Colonels did it without their leading scorer, Glenn Cosey, who was out with an injury.
“That was a big game for us to send a message to the rest of the conference,” DiNunno said. “I think after our good start, early on, teams weren’t taking us seriously. We won a lot of games but it was easy to be skeptical.
“After that win, I think we showed we’re for real. Murray State’s a great team and we played probably our best ball all season, we had everything clicking.”
DiNunno drew the defensive assignment of guarding All-American point guard Isaiah Canaan and while he didn’t stop the NBA prospect’s usual productivity, he “stunted his momentum” enough to help the Colonels pull off the victory.
Right now, it’s difficult to stop Eastern Kentucky’s momentum. With the team’s latest 59-52 victory against Morehead State, the Colonels are 4-0 in the Ohio Valley for the first time in 34 years. … [For more on Mid-Major Player Diary: DiNunno pilots Eastern Kentucky's hot start, click here.]