Doug Thomas Gets Up for Iowa

The long wait for high-flying Doug Thomas to arrive in Hawkeye Land has ended. The sky walker from California intends to add fierce rebounding and breath-taking dunks to the Iowa attack this winter. Hn.com caught up with Doug at Tuesday's media day and asked him about a number of topics including maturing to overcome his temper and how high he can jump. You'll be amazed by the story of his greatest leap in this HN.com premium Q&A.

It's got to feel good to have that (Iowa) uniform on after committing here as a freshmen but having to wait a few years.

It feels real good. But it was a good learning experience. To go to prep school, I was grateful for that. I was kind of disappointed that I didn't make it to the Division I level when I thought I was. But I went to junior college for two years, and I ended up 69-5, had two good seasons. I can't complain about that, either.

You know that record right off of the bat, don't you?

Oh, I sure do.

How is your knee?

Oh, it's doing real good.

Are you back to full strength?

Pretty close. Eight five, 90 percent in my head. The doctors are just telling me to go slow and keep progressing day by day. Hopefully by Saturday or Sunday, I'm going to be back to full gear.

What can you not do right now?

I just can't plant off of it; defensive slides, cutting back. I can go up and down fullcourt and all of that. I can do everything else.

Did it happen on a certain play or is something that's kind of been building up?

It might have been wear and tear. I thought that it happened from the adjustment of the running styles. At Southeastern, the walls are close to the baseline. I was used to stopping on a dime. Here when we're doing sprints, they want us to just stride through. I was still stopping the same way. That's why I thought I tore my meniscus like that. But they just found out that it was just all bone tissue and they wanted to take care of it.

What to you have to do to get significant minutes here given the makeup of this team?

Be a beast on the boards. I know everybody likes to score. That's not my role as a scorer. Eight to 10 points, that's expected. That would be easy if I could get 10-12 rebounds a game because as much as I like to run the floor on the fastbreaks. I can get Jeff, Mikey, Pierre, whoever the guards are on the floor a lot of assists and make the crowd happy

Are you more comfortable as a four than a five?

It doesn't matter. I'm an inside presence. I've been playing post all of my basketball career. They're working in my shooting and they're working on everybody's dribbling. Hopefully I can step out a little bit. But I'm not really depending on that. I'm just depending on being inside and getting rebounds for my team and getting the ball going the other way.

What do you think of Erek Hansen's game?

He's always been a shot blocker but we went to the Pete Newell camp together this summer in Las Vegas. We had a real good time because it was Vegas. But we learned a lot of different things from Pete Newell. Erek seemed to really improve and got some muscle tone on him this summer. It seems like he's a lot more confident.

What were the things that you guys were concentrating on at the Newell Camp?

It was a footwork camp; being able to finish your shots and different kinds of moves. If the defender plays to your left, you can go to the right. If you drop step and the defender cuts you off, you can always have a counter move.

Coach Alford said that a this team's success likely will be decided by how it plays defense. Is that a strength of yours?

I love defense. Coach Joe O'Brien at Southeastern, he's a defensive coach. He wants us to run our offense, but you can't win games on offense. In the national tournament last year, we held teams to 31.1 percent field goals.

Here we've got a lot of athletic players and smart players. We can buckle down as a team and just be a machine on defense and hold people to under 40 percent shooting a game. We'd be unstoppable.

We had read some things about you before you got here that you were a guy that sometimes could lose his temper. You had some offcourt issues. Do you feel like you've matured quite a bit since that stuff?

That was my freshman year. All freshmen, it's just a learning experience. But it happened. It was just a stupid mistake on my part. I should never let anybody get under my skin that bad.

I feel like I've matured from that and I learned from that. I'm in the Big Ten now. One incident like that could mess up all chances of going to the next level like I plan on getting to. Ijust have to keep my head cool and let the game come to me.

Did you have a reputation where people were trying to incite you to lose your temper?

That goes all the way back to my AAU years. I was a very intimidating player in the way that I acted. I'd dunk on a guy and I'd scream and all of that. That has nothing to do with my temper. That just had to do with my emotion for the game and how hard I played. I let guys know that I'm coming. When I land and I scream, it's like I'll bring it to you again.

Last year, I really calmed down. If I made a dunk or a good play, I wasn't all that screaming. I just stayed calm. Everybody applauded me for that. From my freshman to my sophomore year, I really matured. Now I'm a junior and I've really got to step it up another level.

Has this team welcomed you with open arms? Chemistry hasn't always been the best in the last few years.

Oh, I think we're on the same page. Everybody is saying that this is the hardest that they've seen the pickup games in years. It's real intense. They're going after each other like it's money. Everybody out here hopes to get to the next level. It's not certain. So, everybody just makes the best of what they got.

What is your vertical leap?

Off of two feet, they measured me at 32 inches. If they gave me off of the stride, I don't know what it is. Off the stride, I can look in the rim.

How high can you get on the basket?

My first game of my senior year, I missed the first quarter becuase I was late to practice. When I came in, like the second play, the opposing point guard was on my AAU team. So, he knew I was going to come up and block his shot.

So, he just threw the ball up and the ball touched the white line at the top (of the backboard). I was running full speed and I jumped. I caught it and my waist hit the rubber and I went under the backboard. I came down face down and I put my hand down and I fractured my wrist. That stopped me from going face first into the ground.

That was a scary experience. But if I've got to do it again to make a good play, I'll rip it.

So let me get this straight, you hit the white stripe on the top of the backboard and your waist hit...?

The rubber (on the bottom of the backboard).

Wow, how intimidating is that for opponents when they see things like that?

Hopefully it will make then think twice about coming in there knowing that if they go up there I'm going to try to wipe it off. If somebody comes in there, I'm going to let them know that there's no game in there with me and Erek in there. You've got shot blockers coming from both sides.


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