"He definitely has backed off. He definitely, definitely has backed off since my freshman, sophomore and junior years. He's a lot more lenient and has given me a lot more reign out there. He told me, I've been out there three years and I'm the captain and a leader on this team so he's going to give me free reign and kind of be like him out there on the court. That's what he expects out of me, to be like him out on the floor and be like a coach and make sure I'm setting an example for the other guys."
Ford said the way he rode you was pretty rough those first few years.
"It really, really was; I wasn't expecting it at all during me freshman year and I was calling home every few weeks; I was ready to pack it up and head back. I was missing the old Pawnee High School days for a little bit. He was pretty tough but he does that with everybody. Right now, he's giving it to (Le'Bryan Nash) just like that. I think it's the expectation he has. He knows LB can be a great player and he's not going to let up on him. Every time LB makes a mistake, he's right there blowing the whistle and telling him what he's doing wrong. He's just trying to make you a better player."
Do you feel sorry for Le'Bryan at all now that he's getting that treatment?
"Not at all; no I don't (laughing). I mean, you do at the time, I think you feel sorry for yourself but now that I've been through it and I've seen what it is; that's exactly what he's doing. We just need to understand that he's trying to make you the best player you can be. There are going to be times when LB gets frustrated when coach gets on him but he'll really that coach is just trying to help him out and that's going to make us a good team."
Ford has led us to believe that this might not be your last year on campus and he'd like to keep you as a grad assistant. What do you think of that?
"I don't really know what I'm going to do next year. I don't know if I want basketball to be over with and that means going overseas and playing. I'm not quite sure yet but that's definitely something that I'd be really, really interested in."
Coach Ford has talked about bring you into meetings and involving you. Do you like being involved in the inner workings of things?
"Yeah definitely. I think that's an achievement that I've earned going through and playing for him for three years and having been through all the ups and downs and all the adversity. Like I said earlier, now he thinks of me as an extension of him out on the court and making sure everybody is doing everything right out there. It means a lot."
You're kind of the elder statesman on this team as the lone senior that's going to play this year. What do you think of being that experienced leadership role?
"To be honest, if I could do four years again I would. I'm wishing this wasn't my last year but it does feel good to be a leader. Freshman year, getting to be under Byron (Eaton) when he was a leader and then getting to see James Anderson do it, I think I've been taught the ropes pretty well. I've been fortunate to get to learn from guys like that and now it's my turn and I'm pretty excited about it."
Does being a senior give you a different outlook heading into the season?
"No I think it's pretty much the same mentality going into every year. Obviously we want to win games and compete for championships. This is my last go-around so I definitely want to go out with a bang and I think we have the pieces to do that this year and I think we're going to be a really versatile team that can get up and down and hopefully put more points up on the board than we did last year. Hopefully we do win some championships."
With all the talent around you, you should get some open looks this year that you haven't in the past. Does the prospect of that excite you?
"I hope so. I think we have the pieces to do that. It kind of reminds me of my freshman year when we had guys like Byron and Terrel Harris and James Anderson was on that team. Having Le'Bryan and J.P. and those type weapons will not only open up shots for me but for everybody else, as well."
What is a realistic goal for this team?
"Right now the sky is the limit. Right now it's so early that the new guys — and even me having been here for four years — I'm still learning things and everybody is just learning and being like a sponge in practice just trying to soak up everything coach Ford says … We're not striving to be perfect right now; our goal each day is to become a better team each and every time we step out on the floor. Right now we're progressing and that's what we're doing every day; becoming better each and every day."