Stoudamire showing a new attitude

No player was more maligned last year than Salim Stoudamire. A lot of folks put the hopes of the team on his back and when personality clashes doomed the season they blamed the mercurial shooting guard. While Salim was surely to blame for some behind the scenes problems, he was not the lone offender. In a rare moment of candor the senior discussed the upcoming season with Wildcat broadcaster Ryan Radtke.

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What did you do to prepare for the upcoming season?

"For about a month and a half I worked out with my cousin Damon. I realized a lot of what I needed to work on had nothing to do with my physical skill, but more so my mental skills. I have been aware of things that I was doing that was causing the destruction of the team. Things like scowling, getting on guys when I should have been encouraging. I finally realized that I had to change that and I have been doing that in pick-up game and in practice."

What made you finally realize that you needed a bit of an attitude change?

"It's hard to take criticism some times. I begin to open up and listen to the things that people have been saying. I also watched film and finally realized"

You were pretty honest last year about you and Coach Olson bumping heads. I assume a lot of it is because you are both a bit stubborn. Do you have to understand each other more?

"I don't think he has to understand me. I think I have to understand him. He's the coach, he's been here, his track record is flawless. Me and him are on the same page now. I know what he wants from me and that is leadership of this team."

Did coach have a talk with you after the season about your attitude?

"He's brought me in a couple of times and has told me what he wants from me and I never did it. Finally, I'll do it."

How much time during the off-season did you spend thinking about last year?

"Every day, but you have to learn from regrets and luckily I have one more year."

What do you think was missing from last year's team that kept you all from reaching your potential?

"I think it was leadership. We needed someone to be vocal and keep everyone on the same page. Like when we were at opposites."

Are you going to be that guy?

"Definitely, I have to. Who else is going to do it?"

Moving on to the new guys, what have you seen from them so far? Have they impressed you?

"All of them have impressed me. They are good guys too, as well as good basketball players. Mohamed is good with the boards. Jesus is a tough guy, Daniel Dillon is good on the boards and Jawann McClellan is a great shooter. I'm looking forward to implementing them into the system."

What do you look for when you first play with the new guys?

"The main thing I look at is if they go hard and when they make mistakes do they keep going or do they get down on themselves. They are going to make mistakes in the games because they are freshman, but how do they react to them."

In pick-up, is that where you start to assert leadership? Do you pull guys aside and work with them, give them advice?

"Definitely, I found myself doing that all the time with these guys. I'd have to stop and explain things to them all the time. (Laughing) It kind of gets annoying, but I have to do it."

What the toughest things for young guys to pick up on?

"In high school they don't learn the same things that ‘Coach O' teaches because he understands the game so well. They just have no idea what to expect."

Defensively, is it tough for the new guys to adjust to having to play hard on defense every possession?

"I think defense is the most pivotal, because defense creates offense. On offense they have to learn not to dribble too much or take ill advised shots."

How much will the competition in practice help?

"It helps a lot because you won't be able to take days off in practice. Last year you could come in and kind of go through the motions, but this year you will have a guy trying to battle for your spot."

Do you feel like you are in a battle for your spot, after all you are a senior and most expect that you will be the starter. Do you have to worry about losing your starting role?

"I do not feel like I am in a battle for my starting spot but I feel like I have to set an example for the rest of the team."

There's no doubt that you will be pushed by those guys, right?

"They will push me just based off of their talent."

You are now entering your senior year. Has the time just flown by?

"I can remember coming in, being the shy guy and not talking to anybody. Getting down on myself. Time flew and I've learned from my experiences."

How is your relationship with Channing, the only other senior?

"We are real close. We hang out all the time. We like to have fun."

Over the season coach Tention was looking at head coaching jobs, but he isn't moving on yet. Are you at all glad, because it seems like you two have a pretty good relationship.

"Definitely, I relate real well with coach Tention. He's really good with X's and O's and he really understands the game and gives us a really positive influence."

A lot of people say, ‘As Salim goes, this team goes.' Do you like that kind of pressure?

"Definitely, it just shows the type of player that I am. Now I have to make everyone around me better instead of just displaying my skills."

You've mentioned the mental aspect, but what do you need to improve upon on the court?

"I think I'll rebound a lot more this year and do a lot more penetrating, getting to the lane and causing havoc to the defense. I'll definitely hit the 15-footer a lot more and get into those creases."

Ryan Radtke host the aptly titled ‘Ryan Radtke Show' weekdays from 3-6 p.m. on 1290 a.m. in Tucson. He is also a member of the Wildcat broadcast team.

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