Do you feel like this team will shoot better from the outside this season?
Me and Jeff both, it wasn't up to par last year. We worked on it all offseason, so I think we're going to be all right. We shot the ball well in Australia. Hopefully that will carry on.
Why was it so much better in Australia when you're facing older guys?
That was a lot of fun just to face experienced players over there. That's what you're going to face in the Big Ten, big, strong, physical players. That just helps us along the road.
Did you guys see mostly man-to-man defense over there?
Yeah, it was. But it was a different kind of man-to-man. It was kind of laid back. They kind of hang out in the paint a little bit. It was a little different over there, but we got used to it.
Do you expect to see zones again this year until you guys prove that you can stick it from the outside?
Definitely. With Jared and Erek in there, we're going to see a lot of that.
Coach said that he's really counting on the older players. Are you guys ready for that?
That's our job. Luke and Reggie did a great job of that. So, we're going to have to. We learned from them, and we're there now. That's just what we've got to do. We're ready for the challenge. We've been here a long time.
Is this team ready to compete for a Big Ten title?
I hope so. I think we're there. We're getting after it and we're doing a tremendous job so far. Hopefully we'll be ready by the season.
What are your responsibilities as leaders?
We've learned a lot from coach. During the offseason we've just done a geat job of getting the younger guys under us. That's just leadership roles that you've got to do. We're used to that now.
How rigorous were the offseason workouts and were you guys self motivated?
That was a lot of us. Us seniors getting after it and taking them under our wings and letting them know what it's all about. We were doing individual workouts on our own and just getting after it.
Has this senior class talked about it's responsibilities as leaders and finishing your careers in style?
In college basketball, it's all about seniors. All four of us have been through everything together. We're going to stick together and tell these freshmen and sophomores how the road games are going to be, how to handle the crowds, the media and all of that stuff. We need to talk on the floor and do everything the coach wants us to do that they probably don't know. We've got to tell them.
Is there a now-or-never feel for this senior group?
Yeah. None of us four seniors will ever play a college basketball game again after this year. We want to come out here and make it the best that we can whether it's getting the freshmen and sophomores ready for games or if it's just showing up on the floor and playing hard every night. We've got to do whatever we can possibly do to win as many games as we can because this is our last go-around.
Do you guys like that none of the prognosticators are really picking you guys to do anything?
It puts no pressure on us, but we definitely want to prove them wrong. I think we will. I think we're going to have a really good season. We should be in the top tier of the Big Ten for sure. Anything less than that is unacceptable to me.
What do expect out of yourself?
I'm just coming in trying to concentrate on working hard and not making as many mistakes, the turnovers and bringing my rebounds up. Other than that, I've just got to be a leader out in the floor.
Coach said that the starting positions are pretty much open. Do you guys view it that way?
Everyone is fighting for a position every day. Everyone wants to play. In individuals, we were all battling. When we play pickup, everyone's going at each other. Once we're off the court, we're all friends and hang out. We've got a real good team chemistry and I think that's going to bring us to wins.
Do you think Glen realizes that if he gets in foul trouble there are other guys fighting for his position?
Yeah. He definitely has to get it together. I guarantee you he will because he's a senior now. He knows how the Big Ten refs go on the road and the nonconference games, how those go. He's just got to keep his head. We're all there behind him helping him along, but it's up to him.
Do you have a position?
I don't think so really. I try to do whatever it takes. If they want me to play outside and shoot, then that's what I'm going to do. If they want me to go inside because I have a smaller player on me, then that's what I'm going to do.
Is there a sense going into the preseason that everybody is fighting for playing time?
Definitely. Every day is competition here. We're two-deep at every position, if not three in some positions. Every day we're pushing each other that much harder for that starting spot. But whoever starts, it doesn't matter because we have some guy coming in after him that's just as good. So, I don't think starting has anything to do with it. But just pushing each other each day is going to help us out.
How much of an advantage is it to have so many of you guys that play multiple positions?
It's huge. Pierre can bring the ball up. Pierre can post. I think I can do the same thing. I don't know if they're going to have me bring the ball up. I'd like to. But we have a lot of mismatches on our team. Sean is especially a mismatch. He can play outside. He's been playing really well. His outside shot is looking really nice. Same thing with Glen Worley. It's going to be tough for opponents. I'll tell you that.
You say you are more relaxed this year. Did you not want to step on any toes last year?
It's not that I didn't want to step on any toes. But you're a freshman. You're kind of feeling your way out. You're trying to get used to your teammates. When you get thrown to the wolves like Greg and I did, it's tough because you don't know if you should shoot this shot. You're just kind of playing, not really intimidated, but...I don't know. I think we'll know better what is a good shot and shoot with confidence.
As a veteran now, what kind of advice to you give Mike Henderson?
Mike has been playing real well right now in pickups and everything. He's a big, quick guard, which is very vital in the Big Ten. The only advice I would give to him is that you've just got to keep your head up all of the time. If something is going bad in school, you can't bring it on the court. If something is going bad on the court, you've just got to play through it. You just have to come in at nightime and think things over by yourself. That's what I did a lot last year. He's a good kid with a good head on his shoulders and he'll be all right.
When last year ended, were you pretty exhausted?
Oh yeah. I was dead tired. My ankle was still hurting, so I had to have surgery on that. I finally got that out of the way. Now, I know how to take care of my body. Hopefully the injuries stay away.
Do you feel like you have something to prove after not being able to play at full strength last season?
Oh yeah. Definitely. Last year kind of felt like you had a 50-pound rock on your back just because you can't move as well and stuff like that. In the offseason, I've been working on getting faster and putting on a little weight with keeping my speed. I've been working on quickness too.
Do you feel like you'll play off of the ball a little bit with Mike here?
I think so. We have a lot of different lineup possibililites. We have probably about 10 guys on this year's team that can play.
Do you like that not much is expected of this team according to national predictions?
That's fine with us. We really shouldn't be expecting anything after going 7-9 in the Big Ten. That's kind of expected. But we know what we can do. That's really all that matters.
Do you think as a basketball player that you're going to be even better this year having redshirted?
I think I gained a little bit more. I worked out more in the weight room than I usually would. I shot more jumps shots than usual. The gym was the place that I came to release some of that frustration from not playing the games. So, I think I've gained a couple of things.
Is the jump shot something that you really want to work on?
I'm trying to do it all. I don't want to be one dimensional. I want to be able to shoot it, pass it, drive it, rebound, post up, play defense, do whatever it takes to win.
Did the time off make you more driven?
Definitely. Anytime that you take a year off, the anticipation to get back out there is great.
Are you prepared for any crowd backlash?
I can't really control what's going on in the stands. I can only control what's going on on the court. I'm ready to take care of what's going on on the court as opposed to what's going on off of it.
Has your focus on the court become greater?
It's not only my focus on the court. I'm focusing on keeping up my grades and being a better person.
How long did last year seem?
It seemed like a long time. But I'm just glad that this season came back around. The situation, I didn't forget about it. I think that I've learned from it. and I'm just happy to be back.
What type of community service did you do?
I did things with the Salvation Army. There were things that they had me doing around the store and working with kids.
What was that like?
It was fun. It wasn't something that I was upset about doing. It was something that I was glad to come out and do.
What is your position?
I'm a guard. Whatever it is that the coach wants me to do, that's what I'm going to do.
How much will the added depth help this team?
I think we'll be able to do a little bit more on the defensive side of the ball because last year they didn't have the depth to pressure. If somebody got into foul troube, it limited what you could do. This year, we'll be able to run the ball a lot more than we did last year and the defensive pressure will be more intensified.
How are the seniors leading you guys?
They provide leadership not only for the things that happen on the court, but letting the younger guys know about off of the court expectations and in the classroom expecations that the coaches stress.
What's it like being a senior?
It's a little different. I kind of feel like an old man. I'm the grandpa, probably, of the group. It's a fun experience being your last year of college.
What's it like having all this depth after not having any last year?
In the locker room we were kind of joking around saying that we ain't got any room anymore. Before, you probably could lay down in there. It's a lot better feeling coming into the season knowing that we've got a lot of depth and a lot of guys hat can contribute in different ways.
Is the competition for positions a good thing?
That's definitely a good thing. When you can go out there and know that you have to earn your minutes each and every day, I think that makes everybody better in the long run.
What are your thoughts on Pierre's return?
That's the main thing. He came here to get an education and play basketball. He supported us when we were out there last year. God knows that he could have just left us and said negative things about us. But he was with us on the road and when we were here. He was always encouraging us in practice. He was here every day. The only thing that was different was that when we stepped through that tunnel to play a game, he wasn't there.
How do you think he'll handle any hostile crowds?
I don't know. We'll have to see. But he's got 13 other guys who are coaches out there who would do anything for him. He knows that we've got his back. So, I don't think there will be much of a problem with it.
What are your expectations for yourself and also for this team?
My expectations for this team are the Tournament. We have to make it to the Tournament. I don't think any of us really want to go to the NIT. I definitely don't want to go. We're going to the NCAAs.
Do you worry about the fouling things at this point?
No. That's for you all. I ain't worried about it. I just go out there and play. I'm just worried about my teammates and us just winning. It's for you all to sit there and calculate stats and all of that. That ain't my job.
Is there a sense of urgency for this senior class?
There's no next year for us. So, we're going to the NCAAs. That's not even a question right now.
Do you like that the preseason publications are not expecting much from you guys?
It doesn't bother me either way. They thought about us our sophomore year, and looked what happened. They didn't think about us last year, and we did some good things. Those magazines are basically for fans and things like that. Those ain't for us. We understand that we've got to go out there and play games.
Do you feel a responsibility to keep yourself on the floor?
Yeah. I definitely have to be held accountable for what I've been doing. I definitely want to be out there on the court helping my team. I understand that. If i'm not out there, there's a less likely chance of us winning. I just know that I've got to stay out there to help our team win.
Is it controlling emotions? Is it a mental thing?
It's a lot of the mental things. It's just something that you've got to deal with. I'm just going to go out there and just try to have fun this year.
What does this team need to work on right now?
Consistency. It starts with me and my consistency. we've just got to be consistent and understand that when we go into the Big Tens it's a 16-game fight and not a three- or four-game fight.
When you came on last year and started to prove yourself, did the idea of the NBA start to take hold?
You have to go out and play your game and you have to make sure your team is winning for that stuff. I don't try to worry about that stuff right now. I'm not going to lie to you. Any kid that picks up a basketball wants to play professional basketball. We all have to realize that what you do now is important to your future life. So, you've just got to take care of what you're doing right now and that will all fall into place.
Why is this team closer than may some of the teams in the past?
You know, we went through some things. People outside of our locker room were questioning us and that brought us all closer together as a family knowing that we can only count on ourselves. No matter what happens and no matter what people say outside of our locker room, that doesn't affect anything that goes on on the floor.
Do you get the feeling that at the end of games Glen will be on the court with you instead of on the bench?
Yeah. Definitely. He played well over in Australia in games where he was watching his fouls. But that's something he's done a great job working on. You know, "What am I doing wrong and how am I getting those fouls?" He's definitely one of our best players, and we definitely need him on the floor. We need to be able to count on him to be on the floor at the end of the game.
Have you worked on expanding your shooting range?
Yeah. I feel pretty comfortable wih my back to the basket. Everybody needs to work on something. I worked on my shooting and my touch and putting the ball on the floor a little bit. That's not my game to put the ball on the floor and driving.
Is this team going to be solid defensively?
From a team perspective and even in individuals, everything has been pretty much defense. We worked on help-side defense. Now it's more of "You can score on us instead of you can't score on me." Instead of worrying about your man, you worry about everybody else's man too.
Do you guys like the underdog role?
Yeah. Definitely. We always have a lot of high expectations inside of our locker room. It helps when the people in the outside are saying that you're not as good you think you are because then it makes you think you have to prove yourself. You have to work that much harder to show them. That's good for our team. We don't need for people to tell us we're good. We know we're confident in ourselves inside and that makes us work that much harder.
Do you feel like you'll be in the NCAA Tournament?
Yeah. I definitely feel that way. Whether we win the Big Ten or whether we finish in the Top 3 or 4 in the Big Ten, we'll definitely be playing in the NCAA Tournament.