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Hot-shooting Tomasz Gielo focused on contributing to an Ole Miss run

Hot-shooting Tomasz Gielo focused on contributing to an Ole Miss run

Tomasz Gielo has come to grips with the fact that he is entering the final stretch of his journey with the Ole Miss Men’s Basketball team. The senior forward hasn’t thought much about the next step in his basketball career; he is focused only on helping the Rebels win games.

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Senior Tomasz Gielo vs Florida on January 16, 2016 in Oxford. (Photo credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)

In the early stages of Southeastern Conference play, Gielo struggled a bit with his outside jump shots—shots he usually sees fall through the net at practice. But he remained confident he could break out of his scoring slump, something that all players face at some point in their careers. And he was right.

Shots falling

Gielo began to see positive things happening in Ole Miss’ 76-73 win at Missouri on Feb. 3, where he scored 16 points and knocked down four three-pointers. He scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Rebels’ 77-72 loss to Florida on Tuesday, February 9.

And things continued to get better for the 6-foot-9 native of Poland.

In the Rebels’ 76-60 win over Arkansas on Saturday, Gielo added 15 points and five rebounds. He shot 5-of-9 from the field—3 of 5 from 3-point range—making head coach Andy Kennedy more confident about how far his team can go with six regular season games left on the schedule.

“The cool part of our team is that everybody can have their night in any given game,” Gielo said. “Tonight, I had 15, but the other night it may be AP (Anthony Perez) then KG (Marcanvis Hymon) and Rasheed Brooks. Sebastian (Saiz) is back so that’s crucial for us.

“So everyone can step in and be there.”

Playing with confidence

Prior to the Rebels’ matchup against the Razorbacks, Gielo was shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc. Kennedy wanted positive results and productivity out of someone whose name wasn’t Stefan Moody.

It’s clear Gielo listened and took heed to what his coach was saying.

“I think it comes with a sense of urgency that you’re not promised more games than what’s left on your schedule,” Gielo said. “You don’t know if that will be your last college basketball game, well basketball period, because your next step is someone trying to pay you money to do what you love,” he added. 

So I’m just trying to go out there play with confidence, play freely. Whenever it’s time to shoot the ball, I’m going to shoot it. But, at the same time, it’s not whether or not the shot goes in, it’s about playing hard on defense, taking a charge.

Senior forward Tomasz Gielo

Little margin for error

There’s little margin for error for Ole Miss (16-9, 6-6), which ranks No. 87 in the latest Rankings Percentage released by the NCAA. The Rebels are 8-8 against RPI top 150 teams including wins over Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia State, Louisiana Tech, Memphis and Vanderbilt.

To stake its claim for a bubble position for this season’s NCAA Tournament, Ole Miss needs a win at Texas A&M (18-7, 7-5) on Tuesday night (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU). The Aggies have lost four in a row with the latest defeat at LSU, 76-71.

“There are no more excuses for us. We’ve got everyone back; the team is healthy,” Gielo said. “Everyone is able to play, so now it’s time for us to just step up and make that run when it matters. There’s no time to make calculations for us.”

It is clear Gielo is zoned in on the helping the Rebels go as deep into the postseason as possible–one game at a time.

We are in a position where every game brings us closer to the NCAA Tournament or takes us completely out of the picture. Getting the win over Arkansas means a lot, but what matters now is what we do next. Getting to the NCAA Tournament is our ultimate goal.

Tomasz Gielo

(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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