Five months. That's all the time it took for Dan Fanelly's transition from first team All-Ohio high school basketball star to starter for one of the nation's top-ranked Division III college teams to be completed.
That's all the time it took for Dan Fanelly's transition from first team All-Ohio high school basketball star to starter for one of the nation's top-ranked Division III college teams to be completed.
Five months after graduating from Green High School, Fanelly stepped onto the court as a starter for the Wooster Fighting Scots, the second-ranked team in NCAA Division III basketball.
For Fanelly, the jump from high school to college has been more than simply learning to compete against faster, stronger opponents. Being a college athlete has been a large paradigm shift for the 6-foot-6 post player. He is averaging 9.1 points in 19 minutes per game and has started every contest of his freshman season.
"It's obviously a challenge, but I'm really enjoyng it, and you've got to work hard every day," Fanelly said "At first, it's a lot to adjust to, but I was foruntate enough to where I was able to play over the summer against other (college) players."
The travel required at the college level has been one of the most profound changes for Fanelly. At Green, a long road trip might be a 90-minute bus ride to face a non-league foe. At Wooster, his first month included a trip to Illinois for a tournament and a flight to Arizona for a two games.
Taking to the road has opened up a whole new side of the game for Fanelly.
"It's a great opportunity, and I would never have thought about playing in Arizona ever," Fanelly said of the trip to the Phoenix in mid-December. "Going out and being able to play completely different set of competition, you face guys you've never seen before."
When players jump from high school to college, they typically move "down" a spot in the lineup because players at a given position are bigger at the college level. A player who mans the post in high school often shifts to the perimeter in college, but Fanelly has gone in the opposite direction.
Head coach Steve Moore moved Fanelly to center, a position he rarely played at Green. Fanelly has the height to play in the post, but he continues to work to add the weight necessary to compete physically on the low block. When he graduated last spring, he weighed around 180 pounds.
By the time he took the court in Wooster's opener Nov. 19, that number had risen to 190 pounds and Fanelly continues to work to add muscle to his lean frame.
He also is learning the ins and outs of playing center with help from associate head coach Doug Cline.
"Playing center ... it's a lot of work, a lot of footwork," Fanelly said. "It's about being physical, but I have two of best coaches in the game, and I take what they've taught me and apply it."
About 75 percent of his touches come on the block, but Fanelly is able to float to the short corner when teams play zone and find opportunities away from the basket when the Scots are in transition. Learning a new position has given him a chance to start right away, something that wasn't on his mind initially.
Moore told him he would have a chance to play, but did not promise him a starting spot.
"I never thought I was going to start, but a week before the first game, I don't know if I had a good practice or what, but I think that's when they made the decision to start me," Fanelly said.
Playing for a program with the highest winning percentage in any NCAA division this century has been both a challenge and a blessing for Fanelly. Fully aware of the Scots' basketball success, he has embraced the task of continuing that tradition and learned to appreciate the on-campus atmosphere surrounding the program.
"The support we get from school and community is one of the best in the country," Fanelly said. "From traveling, no one has compared to atmosphere and tradition we have at Wooster, bar none, at the Division III level."
Adding to that success will necessitate continued improvement on Fanelly's part. With 12 games under his belt, he is intent on adapting to the physicality of college basketball and acclimating himself to the speed of the game. As he does so, he is hopeful that he will be come calmer on the court and cut down on his turnovers by making better decisions with the ball.
If the past five months are any indication, those goals are within reach.
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