COLUMBIA — When he met Jordan Dressler for the first time, Columbia College freshman guard Tanner Sutton says he thought the Cougars power forward was shy and quiet.
"And then it took about an hour of being with him to realize that this guy is going to be the heart of the team," Sutton said.
Dressler leads the team in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots. Dressler, the 6-foot-8-inch senior from Columbia, and point guard Henrique Medeiros are the only two players to start all 11 games for the Cougars this season. Although Sutton said Dressler is the "most skilled big man he has ever played with," Sutton wasn't just talking about Dressler's contributions on the basketball court when he called him "the heart of the team."
Dressler, who joined the Cougars last year, has many roles off the court. Teammates rely on him to provide movies to watch on during road trips. Dressler says he has developed "quite an extensive DVD collection," made up of mostly comedies. Teammates enjoy Dressler's signature selections, including "Anchorman" and "Super Troopers." Dressler admits he has probably seen "Anchorman" more than 20 times.
"I think he needs to learn how to shop in the Academy Awards section, not the 50-cent section," coach Bob Burchard said.
According to teammates, Dressler loves to take freshmen under his wing. The senior has developed a reputation for picking on newcomers. Freshman Tanner Sutton is a main target for Dressler this year.
"I live right next door to him so I get the chance to get a lot of those jokes in my room every night," Sutton said.
Dressler often comes into Sutton's room at night, turns on the TV and acts like he lives there, Sutton says. Other times, "He'll take my clothes and my towel when I come out. So I gotta run through the halls naked to get back," Sutton said.
Still, Dressler is liked by his teammates, who said it is hard to take him seriously because they know he likes to joke around.
"I may look like, big and mean, but I'm a pretty nice guy," Dressler said.
Dressler tries to help the young players out by providing guidance. Sutton said Dressler is always giving him advice about girls.
"He thinks he has so much experience," Sutton said.
Regardless of how seriously players take Dressler's advice, the Cougars are glad to have the good inside presence on their team. Burchard said it is hard to find good big men at all levels of basketball. Dressler nearly averages a double-double with 13.2 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.
After the graduation of forward Greg Stegemen last season, Dressler said he felt the need to do more for the team.
"We needed someone to step up and provide leadership on the post," Dressler said.
Burchard said sees the improvement in Dressler's game and leadership.
"Jordan is a strong personality on our team," Burchard said, "As he's grown in the program I think he's developed even more."