Razorback Q & A:
Three years ago, Arkansas and Kentucky were the final two teams on Jannero Pargo's list of college choices. Both schools coveted the explosive Junior College guard, but while Nolan Richardson saw Pargo as a future superstar in his system, Tubby Smith pictured him as a spark off of the bench. Big mistake Tubby. Last year the Hogs' sharpshooter from Chicago was named third team All-SEC and was voted team MVP by his comrades. He also apparently wanted to give Tubby Smith a first-hand reminder of the mistake he had made. When the Wildcats visited Bud Walton Arena Pargo tossed in 16 points including a decisive three-pointer in the final minutes of the Razorback victory. This season, after a slow start, Pargo has continued to prove that he is more than a role-player. In fact he is probably the hottest guard in the SEC right now. Over his last five games Pargo has averaged 24.2 points. Last week he averaged 26.5 points and shot 61% from the three-point line en route to being named SEC player of the week. As ESPN anchor Stuart Scott would say, "He must be butter, cause he's on a roll." Yes Pargo is living and breathing in the zone, and he was kind enough to let me join him there for a few minutes for this week's Q & A.
Nathan Striegler: Jannero, after struggling early in the season you have certainly found your groove and were even named SEC player of the week last week. How satisfying is it to receive such an individual honor?
Jannero Pargo: Actually that is the first time I've heard about it. I didn't even know. I don't know what to say. It's a great honor to be selected, but it's just a tribute to how well our team is playing lately. They're doing a great job of setting picks and getting me the ball and fortunately I'm knocking down the shots right now.
NS: What have been the keys to improvement for you and the team?
JP: As a team we have been making our offense our defense. Creating turnovers and pushing the ball. We get steals and turnovers and that helps our offense out a lot. For myself in the half court offense it's just opening up the floor, picking, and moving. It helps us get into a rhythm offensively.
NS: Against Tennessee Chattanooga you scored 16 points in the first four minutes of the game. What does it feel like to be in that kind of zone?
JP: It's an indescribable feeling. It's just like you're in the gym by yourself. You just have a machine that keeps kicking the ball out to you and you just keep shooting. It's a good feeling. It feels like everything that you throw up there is going to be good.
NS: You guys have gone the distance with some great teams this year only to fall short at the end. What is it going to take to get over the hump in games like that?
JP: I think it's gonna take a little more focus and intensity. We've got to get a few more defensive stops down the stretch. We gave up some real easy baskets at the end of both the Illinois game and the Oklahoma State game. We have to take care of things down the stretch on defense and the offense will take care of itself.
NS: Last year at midnight madness when you were introduced you got a little boost from Alonzo Lane to go up for a dunk. Have you thought about breaking out that play in a game?
JP: I never thought about it here. Actually I thought about it in high school. Honestly if we ever had a chance to do it I'd probably just give the ball to a big man and let him dunk it. I've actually thought about just dunking it myself, but I just wanted to make sure we got the basket because I know if I don't make it I'm coming out of the game.
NS: What game are you most looking forward to this year?
JP: Actually we played them already. The Illinois game and the Oklahoma State game. Those were the two games that I wanted to win badly, especially since I am from Chicago. And with the Oklahoma State game they have a great player in Maurice Baker who is from a Juco like myself. It's kinda challenging to see who the better player is, but I was very disappointed that we didn't win that game.
NS: How much did it mean to you to play as well as you did at the United Center in front of your family and friends against Illinois?
JP: It meant a lot to me. I hadn't been playing well at that point. I stayed with my family the night before and they were all letting me know about it. They were like, "What are you doing out there?" So to go out there and play well in front of my family and friends really meant a lot to me.
NS: What about the Kentucky game?