A Q&A With Ravern Johnson

Mississippi State junior basketball player Ravern Johnson does a one-on-one interview with Gene's Page.

How much weight have you gained since last season?
"I have a high metabolism and can't gain like I want to but I've gained 6 pounds. I'm up to 181 now. By the time the season starts I should be up to at least 190."

You don't always have to gain more weight to get stronger. Have you gotten stronger?
"Oh yeah, I've gotten a lot stronger than I was last year."

What are you trying to improve on other than trying to gain weight?
"I'm working on my ball-handling skills and trying to create my own shot, getting to the hole. I can shoot pretty good but the thing about my game is when people crowd me I couldn't really do too much. This year, I'm planning to put the ball down more and get to the rack."

How much better do you think this team will be compared to last year?
"I think everybody has gotten better. We were a three-point shooting team last year but everybody has added something new to their game whether it be getting to the hole, rebounding, leadership or something else. In the pickup games I can see that everybody has gotten better."

In the pickup games who have you seen a lot of improvement from?
"Dee (Bost) has gotten a whole lot better. Ro (Romero Osby) has gotten better."

What specifically have you seen from Dee?
"He's seeing the floor quicker and his shot is a whole lot better than it was last year."

What have you seen from Romero Osby?
"Ro is shooting the ball a lot better. His confidence is up. He's getting to the hole a lot more."

Of the young guys who have come in - Wendell Lewis, John Riek, Shaunessy Smith - what have you seen from them while watching the pickup games and the workouts.
"John is a good rebounder, shot-blocker. Shaun is a shooter, he can shoot and he can get to the rack. He just needs to work on a couple of things, but he will learn those quick when practice starts. Wendell is a good rebounder and he can play with his back to the basket."

Has there been any one thing that has surprised you the most about any of those three guys?
"It's Wendell. When we first starting playing he kind of played soft. Now, he is going through the contact and getting better and playing better defense. I guess as the summer went on he got tired of being pushed around. Now, he's manning up."

There are high expectations for this team. What are your expectations for it?
"Make it past the first round (of the NCAA Tournament) and win the (SEC) West and the SEC Tournament. We need to build on what we did last year. Sometimes we had breakdowns in games last year but I think this year we are going to really have it together and be ready."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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