COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Becoming a ball thief

WEST POINT, N.Y. — It all starts with a look.   Once Central High graduate Tanner Omlid sees it, he makes his move and, more often than not, comes up with a steal.   “I see it in their eyes is the best way to put it,” Omlid said.   He may have entered the season as a freshman on Army’s men’s basketball team, but after a season that saw him set the school’s single season steals record with 63 and earn a spot on the Patriot League’s All-Rookie Team, Omlid has emerged as one of the Black Knight’s brightest young players.    As his high school career drew to a close, Army wasn’t on his initial list of his potential colleges. But after talking with the school and seeing the campus, everything changed.   “The visit out there really convinced me,”?Omlid said. “I?liked structure and everything about the program.”   Omlid, a four-sport letter winner in high school, arrived at West Point with modest expectations.    “I didn’t think I was going to play much this year,” Omlid said. “My expectations coming in were just to work hard and try and earn a spot.”    But from the Black Knights’ first game of the season on Nov. 8, when he scored 18 points and had two steals in 16 minutes off the bench, Omlid established himself as a major role player in Army’s rotation and Omlid began to make a name for himself for the number of steals he racked up.   “I see when the opportunity is,” Omlid said. “I was taught not to move on the pass, but when they are cocking it back, that’s when I learned to shoot the gap and go for the steal.”    While Omlid is drawing attention in New York, it was his time in Independence at Central High that helped shape him as a player.    Omlid has always loved basketball. From the time his father coached him from fifth to eighth grade, basketball was always his sport of choice. But it wasn’t until high school that he had a change in philosophy about his game.    “It took a big change,” Omlid said. “In high school, I wanted to be like a scorer. But I knew there would be a bunch of scorers and I realized, I have to be able to play defense.”    During his sophomore season in 2010, when the Panthers won a Class 4A state title, is when he, with the help of Central coach Bob McBeth, looked to add a new dimension to his game.    “It kind of all started at the state championship game, my sophomore year,” Omlid said. “When I got that dunk, I realized I liked shooting the gap. Breaking out and getting easy shots, that’s what I strive for.”    As he progressed through his high school career, McBeth saw an athlete who was turning into a complete player.    “Tanner has a natural ability to find the ball,” McBeth said. “He’s a hard worker, and he really excelled at anticipating things and excelled at being able to see a pass and being able to jump in front of it. He can shoot, rebound, steal passes, and he really worked hard to become the total package.”    Those skills have paid big dividends for Omlid.    During his freshman campaign at Army, Omlid’s made his presence felt on every part of the game. He averaged 4.5 rebounds per game, good for second on the team, and 6.0 points per game, helping the Black Knights to a 15-16 overall record and a trip to the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament.    But he’s looking to take his game to the next level going forward.    “(I want to improve) my shot selection,” Omlid said. “I just want to do whatever helps our team the most.”    But while he’s looking to become a more complete player going forward, his defense will continue to be his bread and butter.    And Omlid is just fine with that.    “I always want to improve my defense, because that’s what separates people on our team,” Omlid said.


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