Speights Excited to Play in Tampa

Marreese Speights has always been known for being the shy, humble guy in the locker room. But with this Friday's game against the Vermont Catamounts in Tampa nearing, he can't help but have a big grin on his face.

He's headed home to play in front of his friends and family. And while the Gators played there last year, the St. Petersburg native is now a starter and a crucial part of the team's makeup. The soft-spoken big man opened up this week about the game, his role with the team and coaching.

How are you feeling about Friday's game in Tampa?

"It's a different feeling. I'm just excited to go back home and play in front of my hometown. I can't wait, but it's just going to be another game. I've still got to go out there and play hard."

Do you feel anxious? Excited? How do you think your emotions are going to be on Friday when you step out on the court?

"Everyone's going to be there, so I'm going to have to get humble real fast and just go out there and play ball. I'm gonna try not to be too charged up. In the locker room, I'm probably going to be charged up a lot but then I've got to get quiet and humble."

From playing a small role to now being thrown into the starting lineup, how do you feel you're adjusting to the situation?

"I'm just trying to get better and better in every game and every practice. I think I'm doing pretty good at it And the coaches are relying on me, so I have to go out there and do the best I can do every time I get."

Coach Donovan said that he hasn't quite figured out which kind of coaching works better for you. They say you're pretty shy so are you one of those guys that likes for him to ride you? What motivates you more?

"I just never want him to stop arguing with me, because that would mean he doesn't really care about me. If he's arguing with me then he cares about me. I want him to keep telling me the things I need to do and keep challenging every time."

How are you adjusting to playing with your back to the basket? How would you evaluate how you're doing with that so far?

"The team needs somebody down low and I'm the only real big man so I've got to go down there and help the team and give them a down-low presence. I think I'm doing pretty good. I've got to battle more."

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Blake Bonsack

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