After leading LSU to two wins with stellar second-half performances last week, sophomore point guard Anthony Hickey sat down with reporters Monday afternoon for a question-and-answer session.
Hickey was very forthcoming with the mistakes he made in the past, his mentality and how all that's starting to change after first-year coach Johnny Jones leveled with him.
Publisher's Note: These interview sessions rarely allow for true one-on-ones, with multiple reporters sitting in on player availabilities. With this particular interview, I was joined by Bryan Lazare of Rivals.com. I'll list all my questions with Hickey first, then provide his at the bottom, as both of our lines of questioning were hitting on very similar topics.
Ben Love: As much discipline as coach was throwing your way at the beginning of the season, now that you're kind of turning it around and becoming a leader of the team, do you hear the praise from him?
Anthony Hickey: I wouldn't call it praise. He just wanted me to grow up and just man up for once. He told me, ‘How can we be on your plane if you're going to crash it?' That made me think. I said you're right. So if I'm going to be on the plane, I want to be the one driving, and I don't want none of my people in the back to crash. So I've got to keep it steady and take it a day at a time, trying to better myself every day.
BL: What kind of job do you think you're doing of manning up?
AH: I'm doing good. I'm going to keep trying to get better every day. I pray about it all the time and tell God to guide me in the right direction. As long as I think that in my head and keep it up, everything's going to be all right.
BL: What is it about you that when you have a poor shooting day, like you did at Mississippi State for the first 38 minutes, that you still have the confidence to keep shooting and pull your team through at the end?
AH: I always say when you miss, you don't stop. It's going to come. The game was going a certain way. I wasn't able to hit shots. I was like 0-for-6 or something like that for three. But I was able to hit a big three toward the end. I know my team has confidence in me, and I have confidence in myself. I want to be the one to make that play. I'd seen that we needed a couple of plays to be made, and I tried to do it as fast as I could.
BL: What's the hardest part of playing and winning on the road in the SEC?
AH: I keep saying, we have to get it better on not getting down (early). We let teams get up too much. We can't keep just playing second halves of basketball. We already know that, but it still keeps happening. We're eventually going to get it because we can't keep taking that risk every second half. It's got to be 40 minutes. It doesn't always go like it went on Saturday.
Q: You were disciplined earlier in the year. Were you a changed person coming into this year? What happened coming into this year?
AH: Last year I was always being able to ease my way through things. Coach Jones was like ‘I'm going to make you responsible, and I'm not going to let you ease through.' I needed that, though, because my whole life I've been easing through, slipping through the cracks, things like that. Don't nobody care. But Coach Jones set the tone and said we're going to get this together right now. He wanted me to be a better man, and I applaud him for that because I needed that to better myself and walk in the right direction like I'm walking right now.
Q: Do you think that some people wondered why you were disciplined three separate times and still allowed to keep going?
AH: Yeah. You get tired of seeing your name in the paper, seeing all the stuff, suspended indefinitely, bad write-ups back at home. You see all that and you start to wonder if this could be my last go-round. I had a talk with my mom, and she was like either you're going to get it or you're going to be right back here like everybody else did, going to school and coming right back home. And I wanted to be the first one to do something, to get my education and play ball somewhere. I just had to make a change, which I made. Then I had to make a change for my team because I wanted to play with them after I embarrassed everybody, even myself. But then more LSU at the time because that's who I'm representing. I felt like I had to make up for everything that I messed up.