"Last year, I just caught the ball on the wing and reversed it just to get the offense going. But, this year, when someone reverses to me, I'm going to be looking to drive more, get into the lane and make a couple of plays for my team."
What kind of offensive game will you show? Will it be more outside shooting or putting it on the floor and driving in?
"I feel like this, if I'm open I'll shoot it, but my main option is to drive because I love to drive to get to the basket. A dunk is better than a three to me because it gets your team motivated and gets the tempo of the game going."
Talk about some things you were impressed with from the first scrimmage.
"I sure was impressed with Lawrence Roberts. He is one of the best people that I have ever seen on the boards. He was going up, grabbing them and putting them back up just as fast as you could turn around. He really got his team going and kept the pace of the game up. I was also surprised to see that everybody on the floor could shoot the ball so well. (Freshman forward) Piotr (Stelmach) shot it well. (Freshman prep school transfer) Terry Licorish shot it well."
Did those two surprise you? Coach Stansbury said he was looking for two bodies in August and he signed them. But it looks like they are not only two bodies but bodies with talent attached to them.
"They have some great talent. I expect a lot out of them this year, but after they have a year's experience under their belts, those two will be great players. Terry Licorish, if you sit around and watch him practice, you wouldn't expect him to be that great in a scrimmage. But he came out and was like instant offense at one point. You throw it to him and he shoots a jump hook or a wide opened jumper and knocks it down like he had been doing it for years."
Was that the thing that surprised you the most about Licorish? Also, was his offense more put backs or outside shooting?
"He is more of a outside shooting type power forward. He is not the best ball-handler but he can really shoot it, like a guard. It surprised me that he was so comfortable after not having played for a year."
How is Piotr Stelmach different from him?
"Piotr is more fundamentally sound than all the post players. He knows where to be and where to slide his feet and how to run the floor and get back on defense and turn around, call the hole and call the ball and hedge out on picks. He is a great, fundamentally sound player."
Going back to Lawrence Roberts. Was it his rebounding that surprised you the most about him?
"I didn't expect him to beat us on the boards like that, but he got in there and was pulling everything down and putting it back up. You didn't have a choice but to follow when he put it back up. He did step out and make one three and make a short corner jumper. He was like 6 of 7 in the scrimmage. When you are shooting those kind of numbers, you find out who you are going to get the ball to in the game."
Were you the guy who faced him defensively?
Did you face anybody in the SEC last year that was as tough as him? If so, who?
"I don't think I faced anybody in the SEC as tough as him except for (LSU's) Jamie Lloreda. (Jamie) will go get some boards. Most people are lackadaisical when they are going to the glass, but (Roberts) crashes the glass hard everytime. If you don't put a body on him, he is going to get the rebound. I guarantee it."
What did you learn from him?
"If one of my teammates will go to the boards that hard, then I am most definitely going to go to the board, too. Everybody will pick up off of that. We might be one of the top rebounding teams in the country."
Based on what you are saying, despite returning just four experienced guys from last year's team, you appear to be pretty excited about the potential of this year's team.
"I just love my teammates. I love the chemistry. We are all fairly young guys. I'm just 21. Harper's the oldest guy on the team. He is 24. Everybody is kind of close together (age wise). We are building great chemistry. When you see one of your teammates succeed on the court, like Lawrence Roberts with his energy, it motivates you to go out there and work harder."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at email@example.com