Mallios makes the plays for St. A

The only reason Dino Mallios broke the boys’ scoring record at Winthrop High was that former coach Dave Brown drew up so many plays designed for him. Or at least that’s the joke Brown likes to tell.

Saint Anselm College coach Keith Dickson does not have any set plays designed for Mallios.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Dickson watched Mallios, the scorer, yet had a vision of Mallios, the playmaker, in his program’s freelance offense. So he asked the most prolific shooting guard in Winthrop history to put away his best weapon and become something else, handing the keys to a car over to someone who only had a boating license.

The transition was surprisingly effortless. Mallios knew how to drive the whole time.

In his third year at St. A’s, he has developed into one of the best point guards in the nation by Dickson’s standards. And through Wednesday, Mallios was pacing all Division 2 players with 7.6 assists per game, a number only eight other men's players — at any level — hold this season.

“I think a lot of people at this level thought we were crazy for taking him,” Dickson said. “We recruited him at the end of his junior year. And when you're projecting somebody as a high school scorer into a college point guard, it's a pretty difficult projection.”

When Mallios was in middle school, Brown noticed the talent, put him in the weight room, and asked him for dedication. That was easy.

“He's the type of kid that had to become a better shooter, so he did that,” Brown said. “Then he had to become a better player. And he did that.”

At St. A’s, Dickson stuck him in the driver’s seat, giving him 20 starts as a freshman, when he recorded 4.8 points and 2.4 assists per game. His sophomore year, he put up 7.1 points and 4.2 assists per game. This season. Mallios is scoring, averaging 10.2 points per game, while posting a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio for the 13-3 Hawks.

“There's always that little part of me that, ‘I want to score the ball right now,’ ” Mallios said. “But I’m a point guard. I have to be able to see the floor and get my teammates open looks."

Time that Mallios used to spend honing his shot is now spent dribbling up the court as one of his coaches runs straight at him before fading one way or the other at the last second — which forces Mallios, who set a career-high with 12 assists against Assumption last weekend, to make quick decisions. “What he’s become is a much more creative pass-playmaker,” Dickson said.

With his dual citizenship in Greece, and the ability to learn and develop, Mallios, the Hawks’ best on-ball defender, could potentially play professionally in Europe sometime after college.

LeBlanc’s new comfort zone

Methuen’s Ashley LeBlanc was comfortable as the first player off the bench for the women’s basketball team at the University of New Haven, but coach Jessica Smith was not content.

Smith wanted more from her 6-foot-2 sophomore center. “She liked her role,” Smith said. “Then we evaluated the numbers, we were like, ‘No, you need to be starting.’ ”

LeBlanc has slid into the starting lineup, posting a 12-point, 16-rebound effort in 72-71 loss to Franklin Pierce last week before scoring 20 points with seven rebounds in a 89-75 loss to St. Michael’s on Wednesday. “Her role changes because of the different matchups,” Smith said.

Despite averaging just 17.9 minutes per game this season, LeBlanc is leading the Chargers with 95 rebounds in 14 games. She’s also leading the team with 48 fouls.

“She has a bad habit of using her arms a lot,” Smith said. “She’s been working on that.”

Campus corner

Winchester native Stephen Brennan scored his first collegiate goals, notching two in the first period during Connecticut College's 5-1 win over Curry last week . . . Hannah Brickley  of Melrose continues to excel back on the basketball court for Trinity College, where she came off the bench to score 25 points in a 2-0 week for the Bantams. She’s averaging 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 20.4 minutes per game. She played strictly volleyball her first two years in Hartford. . . . Former St. John's Prep star Steve Haladyna totaled 35 points in a pair of wins for Tufts, including 21 points in a 77-75 triumph over Wesleyan.