Gani Lawal: "We have all the pieces"

Gani Lawal made Georgia Tech fans happy when he made a decision to take his name out of the NBA draft and return to school. Gani talks about that decision, his goals for the upcoming season, and his impression of the freshman and the return of D'Andre Bell.

Gani Lawal - Profile

How does it feel to be back?

"It feels good. It's good to be back into the swing of things and to be practicing. Another year is about to start up."

What do you think about the new facility?

"It's nice. If you've had a chance to look around it's nice. The weight room has state of the art equipment. I'm glad it was built on time because a lot of times they have a target date and they don't quite reach it."

What is it like playing against Derrick Favors?

"I won't speak on that. I'll let you guys be the judge of that. Everybody knows about Favors. He's a good player. He works hard. It's going to be fun playing with him."

How is it going to be with both of you on the low block? Will that be a problem?

"We're both good basketball players and we're both going to play hard and do what we can from a big man's standpoint to help the squad."

How much did the talent coming in this year have to do with your decision to come back?

"When I decided to come back, I knew I was coming back to this situation. We have a good nucleus of upperclassmen coming back. Not only that we have Mfon Udofia, Glen Rice, Brian Oliver and a good core of freshman guys coming in so it was a good mix."

Do you like having the ball handlers on the court too?

"Yeah, having D'Andre Bell back, I didn't mention that, is huge. Just having his senior leadership and he knows what is expected is big too."

What are the intangibles that D'Andre brings?

"He brings a lot to the team. I'm just happy that he's able to play basketball. That's a miracle and a blessing in itself. What he brings to this team is something that we really missed last year. We really did. I'm looking forward to having him back and I'm glad to have him back."

Are you looking forward to paying back some teams from last year?

"Very much so, I won't call any names or point anyone out but just everybody."

What part of your game did you work on in the offseason?

"My free throws and looking at a lot of film. Just knowing where to be; I want to be more of a defensive presence."

Are you looking to extend your game at all?

"Yeah, that's always something you're working on as a basketball player. I think all players consistently work on that. I don't shoot three pointers but a consistent fifteen footer and the shot off the glass I'll continue to polish on that. It's always a work in progress."

Are you taking some of the things you got from the NBA process and working on them?

"Basketball is basketball, but when you get a GM from an NBA team telling you, you take it to heart. I'm taking those things and working every day."

What were some of those things?

"My free throws, taking my time in the post, reading the defense and being in the right place against the defense. I'm looking at film and taking a lot of notes and trying to be a better presence on the defensive side of the ball."

It seems like you have a new perspective on things this year?

"The bottom line is that I just want to win by any legal means (laughter). Going 2-14 is not fun. If my numbers have to go down, who cares? As long as we're winning and a good team/ I'm at a point right now, I'm a junior and we've had two losing seasons since I've been here, and I just want to turn that around."

How important will the new depth be this season?

"It's great. We have all the pieces. We're loaded point blank."

What do some of the freshmen, besides Favors, bring to the table? ,p> "They still have a lot to learn, but I think Mfon Udofia is really going to come on strong. Obviously everyone knows about Derrick but Mfon will help us from the point guard position. He has a real knowledge for the game. He's been soaking up everything like a sponge. It's going to be good to have an extra ball handler out there."

Do you see better outside shooting this year to open up things for you and Derrick?

"Yeah, it will spread out. Lance Storrs has been shooting the ball exceptionally well. I'm expecting big things from him this year. The outside shooting is going to be a threat this year. There won't be many double teams down in the block. You can't double team me and Derrick at the same time. Mathematically it's impossible."


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