Henderson Preparing for Next Step

When Mike Henderson was thrust into a starting spot last season, the pace of the game overcame him. Things started to slow down towards the end of the year, when the Iowa guard showed flashes of explosive scoring and suffocating defense. HN.com caught up with the Waterloo native at the PTL to find out what he expects from himself this season, how he - like many Hawks - changed his diet this offseason, what he thinks of freshman Tony Freeman and more in this premium Q&A.

You guys look like great candidates for before and after photos. How do you feel?

I feel a lot quicker. I was 210 last year. I'm 200 now.

How did you do it?

We went home for three weeks right when school was out. I kind of went away from the weight lifting and just did a lot of pushups and sit-ups and went jogging every day. I think it's helped my game out a lot. I feel a lot quicker.

I'm just trying to get back in the flow of things out here (in the PTL). My game is still a little shaky. This is my first organized game since the season. So, once things get flowing we'll be a lot better in this league.

Horner said he lost weight when he stopped eating pizza and hamburgers all of the time. Were you a pizza and hamburger guy?

I wasn't really a pizza and hamburger guy. But I was definitely a fast food guy. I loved Taco John's. I was definitely on top of that. On top of that, I was Super Sizing it or at least going large. I kind of stopped that and got back on subs. We test our body fat every four weeks and a lot of people have dropped their body fat.

What was the focus of your individual workouts this spring? What parts of your game would you like to see improve?

Coach has really been helping me with my (shot) rotation. It's gotten 10 times better. I'm able to shoot free throws a lot better. I just have more confidence shooting the ball just knowing that now I have a proper technique.

I've really been working on a lot involving shooting; shooting off of the dribble; flare screens; tight press. I've also been trying to work on getting my teammates involved instead of trying to penetrate all of the way.

So, you're trying to get comfortable with when to take it all the way to the basket and when to dish?

Yeah. College used to be so fast for me. It was like, "Is this guy closing out or is he laying back? Is this guy about to step up and double?" I was always confused with that. Bit things have really been slowing down a lot for me. I'm starting to see a lot of openings. I'm starting to be able to read the defense better. I'm definitely trying to work on that throughout this league (PTL).

What do you think your role on the team will be?

I'll be a little bit more of a scoring threat. I'll always try to be a pest on defense. I'll try to be one of the guys that just keeps us running all of the time and get our intensity up on defense.

Have you got to see much of Tony Freeman and what are your thoughts if you have?

Me and him have been spending a lot of time together. I'm just trying to take him under my wing and show him the ropes. He's been doing a great job. Sometimes we'll go play basketball early in the day and he'll call me up later to go shoot again.

To me, it's been a blessing just having him here because he's made me hungrier for this basketball team. He's pushing me. I'm pushing him. I really like our relationship.

What clicked for you at the end of last season? You seemed to settle in after the initial shock of Pierre being gone.

When Pierre was there, I was still just a role player, a guy coming in to spark us every once in a while. Every once in a while, I'd have an eight-point game or something like that. I really wasn't getting a lot of time.

When I started playing like 20 and 30 minutes a night, the game just started slowing down. It wasn't so fast as it was when I was only playing 10 or 15 minutes.

How do you look back at the NCAA Tournament game now that you've had some time to reflect?

Going to the NCAA Tournament. That's always been a dream. You need to take advantage of that type of a thing. It's only like five or six games to get to the National Championship game. We had a bad first game. There's no telling what we could have done if we could have played good that game. We could have gotten a little more confidence in ourselves and we could have got on a roll.

We're definitely trying to get back there. Everybody has been working on their game. I learned a lot from it. Playing in it, I learned how to shoot a pull-up jumper from Maxiell. (Laughs)

We played a little nonchalant. Everybody was a little nervous. It was our first NCAA game. That will help us the next time.

Next year, everybody will be hungrier and lot more aggressive instead of being laid back and just kind of going through the game.

Some guys like Dick Vitale and Andy Katz have ranked you guys pretty high already. How will you guys handle what could be high expectations?

We've just got to come in with it the same way we came into last season. My feeling from when I was in high school is a ranking is just a number. You can easily be ranked and it can easily be taken away from you. We really have to come out and just be aggressive. If we're coming out ranked, we've got to really back that up. A lot of guys are hungry for it.

Brunner, it took him a long time to try to get in shape. He's working hard every day. We've got freshmen coming in hungry. We've not seen freshmen come in this hungry. Everybody knows what's at stake. We're ready to come out and get it this year.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories