Hoops Interview: Biko Paris

Biko Paris has been at Boston College for two years. Serving primarily as a backup to Tyrese Rice, the junior point guard is looking forward to taking over the job next season. Bik sat down with Eagle insider to talk about last season, the off-season and what to expect next year.

After seven consecutive years of post-season play, the 2007-2008 season, Biko's freshman season, was a tough one. The team suffered through a losing record for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. It was a rebuilding year, even though Tyrese Rice was still on the roster.

Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall had graduated, and Biko and his four classmates made up the nucleus of the team as freshman. This past season the squad surprised many by making it back into the NCAA tournament (making it seven appearances in the last nine years). The team's success, however, resulted in fewer minutes for Biko. He saw his minutes cut in half from 23 minutes per game to 12. Was it a difficult adjustment for him?

"It wasn't difficult, but it was frustrating at times. It helped me in the long run though, as I have learned so much from watching Tyrese play. I'm real comfortable playing the point for this upcoming season. Watching, and going up against, Tyrese in practice and watching him during games has made me a better person and a better player overall. So it helped me out in the long run more than hurting me."

With Tyrese Rice in his senior campaign and the arrival of freshman Reggie Jackson, there simply weren't enough minutes for Biko. When he did get the opportunity he excelled. Nobody will soon forget the impact he had in the Duke game in the ACC tournament scoring 15 points in only 24 minutes.

That performance shouldn't have surprised many as in the 2007-2008 signature win over Maryland in the ACC tournament, Biko scored 12 points in 25 minutes. Knowing he possesses the attributes to lead BC at the point, he is chomping at the bit for next season, now that Tyrese Rice has graduated.

"I am really excited about it. I can't wait for the season to start. I've talked to the players and we all are real excited about the season. I just want to go out there and show everyone what I can do. My first two years everyone saw glimpses of what I can do, but now that I am going to be one of the only point guards on the team , I am just ready to get out there and show the fans and the crowd what I can do."

Boston College fans are much looking forward to seeing Biko on the court more, but replacing Tyrese Rice is no easy task. Rice was one of the most dynamic scorers in the ACC for the past three years, earning All-ACC first team honors once and second team twice. He was also the team leader the past two seasons.

How does he feel replacing Tyrese Rice?

"It is big shoes to fill, but I know and the coaches know that I am capable of doing it. And I am pretty sure that I will do a wonderful job. I talk to Tyrese all the time and he just tells me to stay focused and to continue to be the person that he knows I can be and to run the team like he knows I can."

Biko is not going to be expected to replace Tyrese Rice all on his own, that would simply not be fair. But for the team to build off of last year, Rice's production and leadership will need to be replaced.

How does the team expect to fill those voids?

"As far as production I don't think we are going to have a problem. We have scorers. I can score if I need to, Rakim can score at any given time, Joe can score at any given time, Corey can score at any given time, Reggie can step in and score at any given time, Josh can score.

"As far as production, I don't think there will be all that big of a fall off as we all know the system and have been in the system for two years, and Roche has been here for three years. We all know what we need to do as far as production, it is just a matter of going out there and getting it done.

"As far as leadership, even though last year I didn't play as much as my freshman year, the team still looked to me for leadership. Even though they had Tyrese, when they couldn't get a hold of Tyrese, I was the first one they looked up to. I'm going to push them as far as they need to be pushed and they are going to follow behind me. So I don't think leadership will be a problem either."

As a point guard, playing for two years behind Tyrese Rice was quite a learning experience. What did he learn from that experience? "How to run a team and understand that no matter what I do, the team is going to look to me for guidance throughout the game. That Coach Skinner is going to put the ball in my hands and let me run the show how I want to. He also taught me how to be a better person on the court and off the court."

After winning only 14 games two seasons ago, the 22 wins last season and the winning record in the extremely tough ACC were quite an accomplishment. The season, however, ended with a couple of very tough losses. Which loss was the toughest to take?

"I would say the Duke game, I think we wanted that game more than anything. It is a rivalry with us. We want to beat each other so bad. It was so close that we could taste it and we knew if we get that victory we were going to go all the way. We just needed that victory to get us over the hump, but we just didn't have the push to get us over.

"In the USC game, towards the end of the game it wasn't close. We were kinda playing catch up the whole game, whereas the Duke game was a heart breaker at the end and the last shot didn't fall. I would say the Duke game hurt more than the USC game. As far as the USC game, we wanted to win that game as well, as there is nothing like advancing in the NCAA tournament."

What happened in that game?

"It was close throughout the game, we were up a few at the half. It was never that they were better than us, they made plays down the stretch and we didn't. That is basically what it comes down to. Like the North Carolina game, we made plays down the end of that game and they didn't. It comes down to who wants it the most and that night they wanted it more than we did."

Biko had originally committed to play at USC as a senior in high school. As a result he was familiar with a number of guys on the team. Did he have a chance to catch up with any of them?

"I know a couple of guys on the team. Three guys are from Louisiana (starting guard Dwight Lewis and back up underclassman Leonard Washington and Marcus Simmons ). And I knew most of the guys on the team from when I took my visit out there. The only guy I had a chance to talk to while we played out in NCAA's was Dwight Lewis who is from the same area where I am from."

With increased responsibility, the off-season becomes more important. Improving as a player is the focus of the summer.

"This off-season I'm working on my jump shot. My three point jump shot and my mid-range jump shot. That is what I am working on the most. I'm also working on being able to play 30 plus minutes, 28 plus minutes, or whatever I am going to be needed to play. Just to get my body in the proper condition I need to be in to get those results throughout the whole game."

A major area of fan's concern with this team next season is front court depth. Joe Trapani and Josh Southern are a very good starting duo, but with Josh's propensity to get in foul trouble the back-up center spot is an important one. Cortney Dunn and Evan Ravenel both showed some flashes last season but neither asserted themselves. What does Biko expect out of them this season?

"Cortney is a work addict, he is going to work hard. He knows he is not the most talented guy out there, but nobody is going to outwork Cortney at the four or five position. He depends on his hard work and dedication to get the job done.

"Evan is a little bit more offensively skilled but he didn't have the same work ethic. But since the end of the season last year, mid-season, Evan has been working tremendously hard. Getting in the weight room for extra hours, and doing the extra conditioning.

"Last year we expected a lot from him but he didn't produce as much as we would have liked him to, but this year he's taken on the task at hand and is running with it. Extra conditioning, working on his left hand, extra practice after workouts. He is going to be fine, they are going to split that time backing Southern up, so we should be fine at the center position."

Last summer Biko and his classmates had discussed a possible shift to a more up tempo, pressing and running style when compared to the Al Skinner teams of the past several years. A style more comparable to the Big East champion team in 2000-2001. However, last season seemed to be more of the same. Not much running with little pressing, running the flex on offense. Why was that?

"Part of the reason why, was as sophomores last year that was what we were taught our freshman year. It was Tyrese's last year, so I don't think he wanted to change the system as far as not doing the flex and us pressing.

"Now that we have all come together as one and know what each other can do, I think the team will gradually change. But Coach Skinner is still going to do his same routine, he isn't going to change much. Maybe more pressure but we are still going to run the flex, that's what he does and that's what he wins with."

On the academic side, last summer Biko discussed an interest in possibly transferring into the School of Education as he was currently undeclared in the School of Arts & Sciences. Biko decided against the switch and has now chosen a major.

"I'm still Arts and Sciences, my major is Sociology. I decided not to change to the School of Education."

Halfway through his college career, are there any personal or team highlights at this point that come to mind?

"My personal highlight, I would say last year our home game against Florida State. I wouldn't say we needed this game to get to the NCAA tournament but it was the key for us to get into the tournament. Florida State was ranked #23 or #24 at the time, they were already a lock for the NCAA tournament, they had 20 plus wins, they had Toney Douglas who is an outstanding point guard.

"A win like that at our home gym was a key victory for us to get into the NCAA tournament. I went out there and made big plays down the stretch (Biko had 10 points on 4/7 shooting with 4 assists in 20 minutes). And after the game Tyrese told the media he wouldn't do the interview if they didn't bring me down with him. That was one of the highlights of my two years now at BC.

"My team highlight would be my freshman year when we played Maryland in the first round of the ACC tournament. We were down at half and everybody had their head down, and we pulled together and came out and got the victory at the end of the game. I think that was the most team oriented we played in the two years I have been here. That was the most outstanding team effort I think since I have been here."

BC fans look forward to many more of those highlights. With the team having everyone returning, other than star guard Tyrese Rice, there is much optimism. With the nucleus of talent BC has returning, BC's future is bright, and they will be in good hands at the point position with Biko leading the way.

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