"1 on 1" with Dominic James [Part 2]

Dominic James returned to the Marquette campus on Monday and spoke with the media about his experience with the NBA tryout camp in Orlando. Afterwards, James sat down with John Dodds of MarquetteHoops.com. In Part Two of our interview series, 'Neek' talks about the upcoming season and his teammates...

John Dodds: Now that you are back, let's look at this year's team. You have experienced players like[Seniors] Ooze and Fitz who improved at the end of last year, and Lazar Hayward[Soph] could take a giant leap higher. I saw Wes Matthews at the basketball banquet and he looked like he had put on at least ten pounds of muscle. Can you give us a quick scouting report on what you've seen with the team.

Dominic James: First of all, since I've been back, the MVP has been Lazar Hayward. In the gym, wow, you don't realize how excited I am to come back to play … you know about Wesley and Jerel. You know how good those guys can be but Lazar Hayward is just unbelievable right now and I feel like if he continues to play like he is right now with that type of confidence, then it's going to be …. I mean he has a great upside, he showed you that, but now I feel like he's going to improve himself this year.

Dan Fitzgerald, as soon as I came back, he was in the gym shooting and we were playing pickup and he looked great. He's picked up right where he left off at the end of the season with the way he was shooting the ball in the conference tournament, he was doing the same thing.

Ooze is running the floor even better. Trend Blackledge was just looking like he can definitely help us with his athleticism, his ability to block shots and get it up and down the floor. We've got so many guys coming back and Dwight Burke is making steps everyday. His potential is great too and then with the freshmen we've got coming in, it's going to be a great addition. You've got a lot from Maurice Acker too and he's going to be a great addition to the team.

John Dodds: Is Maurice Acker playing like "Spud Webb"?

Dominic James: Man, a lot of people doubt him too. He's a guy who really has a chip on his shoulder. He had to sit out last year so I know he's hungry to play and it's going to be very competitive between me, Cubillan and Maurice (Acker) at that point guard position, so we're all going to get better everyday, so there is no comfort level in anybody's position. There is no starting five or anything like that and that's going to make us better as a team because we're coming in everyday competing against each other for a spot.

John Dodds: Will there be a dramatic difference in the team now that you have more point guard help that you can now dribble it up as a point, hand off to Acker/Cubillan and you can run post up plays and do more creative things in the offense as a 2G or wing?

Dominic James: Most definitely. With so much depth, you can do so many different things and that's what I think coach is talking about where we are going to do things a lot different just because of our depth. It would be stupid not to utilize that and coach is a great coach and I know he sees exactly what I see with the depth that we have we can do a lot of different things, put me in a lot of different positions where it's harder to guard me but I'm looking forward to the season because we've got a lot of new aspects to this team. Everybody is improving everyday and I saw that as soon as I came back.

John Dodds: After one practice last year, I talked to you and I think Lazar and Jerel were sitting on a table near the door. I think Lazar had 18 points in a recent game, a breakout game, and I asked Jerel, what do you think about LH? And Jerel said, "It's about time. He's been doing this in practice." What's new with Lazar's game? Is Lazar's outside shot falling now?

Dominic James: There is no hesitation. He was a freshman last year and I feel like he was scared to do too much and he couldn't do that. He knew that Wesley, Jerel and I were the catalysts of the team and I felt like he was just scared to do just too much and be himself but now we told him, "We need you to step up and play well. We don't need you to just sit back and play a role." He's a leader. He's got a lion heart. I mean he's so competitive and we need him to play that way every night but the way he's been attacking the basket. I think he understands more of his inside out game, working from the inside and then working his way out, he's got so many different dimensions to the game and I feel like he's becoming a smarter player every day. The way he's shooting the ball is unbelievable.

John Dodds: Last summer, I saw him at a camp and he could not miss from the outside. At times, he couldn't buy a three pointer last season.

Dominic James: Yes, he couldn't buy one. Then you saw that if he hit one then he was going to get hot. He's that type of player. I feel like Lazar understands the game a lot more, a lot better and I'm looking forward to the season for him because I know he is going to come out and have a great season and he's going to help this team do a lot of great things.

John Dodds: Let's talk about the freshmen, who have you played with in informal games?

Dominic James: They came in a couple of times. Scott (Christopherson) came in and shot the lights out so hopefully he can give me a few easier assists and then we definitely need Pat (Hazel) down low to grab more rebounds. That's going to give us more depth through the big men in the front court and things like that. I'm looking at the roster like, wow, we've got a lot of great potential with this team but I feel like this year we're going to live up to those standards that people set for us and we're going to do a lot of great things. I feel like this is the year that we're going to see something great happen at Marquette.

John Dodds: Against St. John's (at the Big East Tournament), you could get to the lane and drop down to Lazar, just he couldn't finish it down low when size came over to help on defense. If you have Mbakwe and LH in the game, that's a whole different look, isn't it?

Dominic James: Most definitely because I can go either way and it's going to make defense a lot more difficult for them to guard us. With the different style players we have on this team, you can't scout us in just one way. You've got to go over a lot of different scouting reports and there are so many guys on this team that they are going to have to cover. I don't feel like there is any team that can prepare for a team like this because I feel like we are going to be doing a lot more running this year and it's hard to scout a team that just runs and plays random basketball. I feel like that's the type of style we are going to have this year with the depth we have with our ability to get up and down the floor, our athleticism and definitely our improvement and our shooting is going to make it a lot more difficult for teams to guard us.

John Dodds: Thanks for your time, welcome back and good luck this year.

Dominic James: Thanks, you guys do a great job.

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