Southwestern Oklahoma State University basketball player *Abdullah Lawal* has firmly planted himself into one entry into the Lone Star Conference record book and now has eyes on yet another.
Lawal, a 6-2 senior guard from Plano, Texas, has recently become the LSC all-time record holder for steals. He broke a mark that was set more than 10 years ago by a player from East Central University. Lawal now has 222 thefts in a career that has spanned just over 2 Â½ years with the Bulldogs.
Lawalâ€™s accomplishment is all the more remarkable considering he played his freshman year at the University of Wyoming in 2004-2005. He played sparingly with the Cowboys appearing in only five games. He did not play basketball the following year, choosing instead to return to his home state of Texas where he attended Frank Phillips Junior College.
â€œHonestly, I kind of stopped playing basketball,â€ Lawal said. â€œThings didnâ€™t go as I had hoped at Wyoming. I was looking just to get my associates degree and figure out what I wanted to do.â€
Lawal was persuaded to try the sport again by SWOSU coach *Todd Thurman* who was beginning to build the pieces for what has been a successful run as the Bulldogs head coach. Lawal was one of Thurmanâ€™s first recruits and quickly became the cornerstone of an in-your-face defense that often left opponents frustrated and frazzled.
Lawal finished his first year at SWOSU with 50 steals which was good enough to rank him seventh in the Lone Star Conference. The modest totals – an average of 1.85 per game – take on a new look when examined closer. Lawal played less than 16 minutes a game as the Bulldogs relied heavily on a 10-man rotation.
â€œI didnâ€™t think I played all that well, I was just trying to figure out where my place was on the team. I just tried to get into peopleâ€™s heads and throw them off their game,â€ Lawal said. â€œIt takes some time to learn about the league and the style of officiating. You learn what you can get away with and what you canâ€™t.â€
The following season, Lawalâ€™s junior year, his numbers begin to accelerate. He cranked up the defensive heat, played with more aggression, and was turned loose by Thurman to wreck even further havoc on opponentâ€™s offenses. He finished the year with 91 steals, a school record, and led the league averaging 3.3 per game.
His peers and fellow coaches were beginning to pay close notice. Lawal was recognized as the North Divisionâ€™s Defensive Player-of-the-Year in a vote by the leagueâ€™s head coaches.
For an encore this season, Lawal has been even better in his last go round. He has 81 steals through 18 games and is averaging 4.5 per game. He leads NCAA Division II in the category and has nearly twice the number of steals as his next closes league competitor – Central Oklahomaâ€™s Eric Casenave with 45. Lawal has more steals than four teams do combined – Northeastern State, Cameron, Southeastern Oklahoma and East Central.
He is now moved within range of eclipsing former UCO All-American and Division II Player-of-the-Year Joe Newtonâ€™s LSC mark for most steals in a season with 110 set 11 years ago. He is on pace to have 126 by the end of the regular season.
â€œGetting the steal record is important to me, but I understand the value of helping our team win,â€ Lawal said. â€œThe best way I know to help our team is creating havoc and playing with energy. If I do that, the records will take care of themselves.â€
Symposium on Islam at Montana State on Feb.18
The executive director of a California-based council on American and Islamic Relations and the director of the International Union of Muslim Women will speak at a free, one-day symposium geared to local understanding of Islam set Wednesday, Feb. 18, at Montana State University.
The Diversity Awareness Office at MSU and The Muslim Student Association of MSU will host â€œUnderstanding Islam: Moving towards truth and tolerance,â€ a series of lectures, films and discussions that will take place in MSUâ€™s Strand Union.
â€œThis symposium is aimed at informing the Bozeman community about Islam – its history, the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (s), symbolism of the message, as well as clarifying misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding the Islamic faith,â€ said Phenocia Bauerle of MSUâ€™s Diversity Awareness Office.
Guest speakers include Hussam Alyoush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations- Southern California, who will speak about what it means to be a Muslim. Aminah Assilmi, director of the International Union of Muslim Women, will speak about the status of women in Islam.
Interactive roundtable discussion and panel discussions will take place in the afternoon, and information about Islam and related topics will be available all day.
Two PBS documentaries will also be shown throughout the day in the Procrastinator Theater. They include â€œIslam: Empire of Faith,â€ and â€œMuhammad: Legacy of a Prophet.â€
Kashmiri journalist bags US fellowship
Prominent Kashmir journalist Shujaat Bukhari has been awarded prestigious fellowship by Hawaii based East West Centre to attend month long Senior Journalists Seminar entitled â€œBridging Gaps Between the US and the Muslim World.â€
Bukhari who is the Bureau Chief for The Hindu in Jammu and Kashmir, is among ten journalists selected throughout US and Asia to attend the seminar aimed at discussing the issuesin the relationship between between US and the Muslim World especially post September 11, 2001.
The participants will deliberate upon key issues like political and cultural challenges faced by professional journalists in reporting and commenting on issues in contemporary Asian-US relations. They will explore these issues with government officials, diplomats, community leaders (Muslims and others) religious authorities and others active in the dialogue on Asian-US relations. These issues will be discussed in Honolulu, Washington, Tennessee, California, Islamabad, Singapore and Malaysia beginning March 15.
Journalists from Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and the United States are participating in the program.
A permanent fellow of World Press Institute, Bukhari has received number of International awards and honours in the past. He is also the fellow of Asian Centre for Journalism at Manila University.