Deister, who turns 40 in April, was jesting, of course. He doesn’t seem to mind a bit that his all-time streak is being threatened — perhaps because it wasn’t a big deal to him when he did it, and he didn’t know it still stood until being contacted this week by media-relations director Bob Noss.
He set the record during his two years with the Raiders from 2000-02 after transferring from Cedarville University.
Greg Monroe set the previous mark of 39 in 1982-83.
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“I’ve never been a big stat guy,” Deister said. “I didn’t even know I was in the running for the streak until everyone started cheering at the game. I was a bit confused. My coach (Ed Schilling) particularly wanted to protect me from the knowledge of it.
“But even when I came home from games when I was a kid, my mom would ask who won. And I’d forget who won and didn’t know the stats. I just had so much fun playing.”
Deister also had no idea he still holds the records for single-season percentage at 94.9 and career at 89.0. But those may not last long since Gentry is at 95.5 this season and 89.9 as a Raider.
The 6-foot-3 guard from Topeka, Kan., is second at Cedarville in career foul shooting at 86.2 percent, and a unique practice routine helped him hone his form.
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“When I was a young kid in my backyard, I shot free throws with my eyes closed and wouldn’t go in for dinner until I hit seven out of 10. I had seen Michael Jordan do it in a game,” — MJ playfully swished a blind foul shot at the end of a 1991 win over Denver — “and I thought, if the best is doing it, then I needed to do it, too,” he said.
Deister was more than just a deadly foul shooter. He averaged 13.6 points as a junior while being named Midwestern Collegiate Conference newcomer of the year, and he tallied 14.2 points per game as a senior.
The Raiders went 18-11 and 17-11, their only winning seasons in six years under Schilling.
He left Cedarville because his long-range goal was to have a pro career — he spent a few seasons playing for pay on the European circuit — and felt he couldn’t do that without first facing Division-I competition.
“I had no idea I could play at that level,” Deister said. “It literally wasn’t until the flight to our first game that Coach informed me I was going to start. I didn’t know if I was going to get any playing time. He kept his cards close to the vest. It kept me working hard.”
Deister lives in Bellbrook with his wife, Elizabeth, a scholarship cross country runner at Wright State, and their four children (ages 10 and younger).
He said he’ll probably check to see how Gentry is faring now that he knows his records could be broken.
“I’m just happy to be in the same conversation as him,” Deister said. “I would love to meet him.”
Gentry probably would relish that.
Just to be on the safe side, though, he might want to skip the traditional handshake and go with a fist pump.
Wright State at UIC, 9 p.m., ESPNU, 106.5