There are different ways to measure dedication.
Perhaps the most accurate way to measure that of 6-foot-11 Le Moyne center Jim Janson is not by the stats he’s put up in his career, or even by the leadership he’s provided for the Dolphins.
It might be best measured by the Scotia-Glenville graduate’s acceptance of the change in his conditioning and diet that was prescribed by Le Moyne coach Steve Evans.
“It took a lot of work to get into shape when I got here,” Janson said. “That’s part of the reason I redshirted [as a freshman].
“When I got here, they had a great big man and an All-American, Laurence Ekperigin. It was an opportunity to take a year off and improve, but it was really tough. It was one of the more brutal seasons. I was still in practice, and guarding our best player all day. Then after practice, at least three times a week, I’d go to Strength In Motion, which was a conditioning place we worked with about a mile away from the school. I’d do offseason lifting during the season. It was definitely hectic, but it helped a lot. The following year, I was able to start, and I’ve started almost every game of my career since then.”
Janson and the Dolphins finished the regular season 13-7 in Northeast-10 Conference play and 16-10 overall, good for the No. 3 seed from the Southwest Division. They beat the Northeast Division’s No. 2 seed, Franklin Pierce, 73-59, Sunday in the conference quarterfinals and will face Southern Connecticut State in the semifinals tonight.
Janson is playing out his fourth and final year of eligibility as a graduate student. He is second on the school’s all-time list in blocked shots, tops in blocked-shots average, second in field-goal percentage and third in games started.
None of that would have happened if he had not made the changes Evans asked for. The coach told him the team was going to be a faster team, with or without him, though they would rather with him. Evans said Janson dropped about 30 pounds and went from a body-fat percentage around 21 percent to near 8 percent.
“It wasn’t so much just the weight, it was the body fat had started coming off him,” Evans said. “That sort of dedication was something that became contagious in our program, and Jim was a leader in that way. I commend him for making that lifestyle change. It shows that if you’re willing to put forth the effort and go forward with a positive attitude, you can see improvement in just about anything.”
As a senior with Scotia-Glenville, Janson helped the Tartans to a Section II Class A championship. Scotia coach Jim Giammattei saw a potential in Janson above and beyond the mere size of the center.
“When I had Jimmy, his development from his sophomore to his senior year was just astronomical, and I knew that was just the beginning,” Giammattei said. “Some people, in their senior year, they peak as a high school player. Sometimes there’s just so much room for them to get better. The ceiling on that kid leaving high school, I knew, was going to be something to see. I knew he had enough discipline and drive to get there.”
Janson was a force on the boards and provided a quick jumpstart to any fast break. He drew more attention in the paint, allowing perimeter shooters more time for their shots.
It has been his defense, though, that drew the most attention.
He closed the regular season with a double-double of 10 points and 10 blocked shots. He has a career-best 76 blocked shots in 27 games this season, five shy of the school record. His 252 career blocked shots are second to John Tomsich’s 264.
Giammattei said blocked shots are just the beginning of what Janson provides in the paint.
“We held teams in the 30s for a year because they would drive to the basket,” Giammattei said. “There’s a 7-footer in there, and you think, ‘So what?’ Then once you got there, ‘Oh my goodness, what am I supposed to do?’ And the ball would either hit the side of the backboard . . . the number of shots that hit the backboard, shot from the baseline, alone ... the number of shots that went from one side of the lane to the other side of the lane, that should have been a stat.”
Janson said he has taken pride in his defense, but also in that of his teammates. With him in the middle of it, the Dolphins recovered from what he called a shaky start to the season and focused more on the defensive end.
On the offensive end, he has 1,330 career points. His field-goal percentage for this season is .682. For his career, it’s .607.
“He’s been a staple now for four years in our program,” Evans said. “He’s a top-20 scorer, a top-10 rebounder, top five in blocks, the most dunks in school history. That’s a pretty amazing career, especially when you consider he’s played with another 1,000-point scorer in Nate Champion.”
The fact he’s been able to use basketball to get a degree was not lost on Janson. In fact, he was so grateful for the opportunity provided by his scholarships, that he will earn his second degree in June. He graduated early with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and he will earn a master’s in business administration this summer.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity,” Janson said. “I’ve had a really good academic career.”
Outside the classroom, the lessons he has learned about capitalizing on his own potential come through in his expectations for the postseason — that the Dolphins can do anything, because they have not settled for being as good as they were yesterday.
“This team can do anything it really wants to. It’s all about consistency for us. We’ve played with the best teams in the league, we’ve beaten the best teams in the league,” Janson said. “The thing this team has done all year, and the reason we’re in the position we are is because our focus has been to get better every day.”