ScarletReport.com -- Does it feel weird to be a senior? What does this mean to you?
Senior forward Malick Kone -- “A little bit. This is the last year for me, and that means I have to give everything I have to make this a great year, not only for me, but for the team. We’re moving to the Big Ten Conference, and that means a lot. Everybody knows how good the Big Ten is. It’s time for Rutgers to be there, and I’d like to be a part of that. For me and this team, we are very determined to be ready to confront every team in the Big Ten.”
SR.com -- How happy are you that you stayed with coach Eddie Jordan instead of leaving during the coaching change?
MK -- “I’m very happy. I always follow my instincts, and I wanted to follow and trust coach Jordan when he told me to stay. Now I have an opportunity to compete against the best teams in the country. That’s really nice.”
SR.com -- Do you notice things running more smoothly this year with the new staff in place and Jordan having more experience with you guys?
MK -- “Oh yeah. The offensive flow, now it’s easier. We actually have an offense. Last year we struggled with it, and know we know the offense. As soon as you get the ball, you see the flow. You don’t have to wait and be told to do something. I feel like that’s going to help us a lot this year too.”
SR.com -- Do you think the offense takes a step forward this year?
MK -- “Yes. It will. Definitely. We’ve got the team chemistry. When you don’t understand the offense, it’s hard to build a chemistry. When everyone knows their role in the offense, the chemistry is going to be there. It’s like second nature now.”
SR.com -- What kind of developments are you seeing from Junior Etou?
MK -- “Junior, every night, I call him to come into the gym and work out. I’m telling him, and even those freshmen, when you work on your game, don’t waste your time. Work hard. You need to always be working hard. Work on our offense, so when the defense is there, you’ve practiced it so many times that it becomes instinct.”
SR.com -- Is it important that people look at you as a hard worker?
MK -- “Yes. That’s important because that’s who I am. I have to prove that I am going hard every play on defense and on offense. I make the unselfish plays, rebounds, box outs. If they are seeing you as a senior doing those things, then of course they’re going to do the same thing. Pass it on.”
SR.com -- What do you think about the strength of schedule to start this season?
MK -- “It’s a big challenge, and it starts with our first game against George Washington. We lost against them and that was a bad loss too. We know why we lost that game, but this year I know we won’t make the same errors as last year. We’re watching film a lot. That helps a lot. We study. We study last year’s game.”
SR.com -- What do you think of the new assistant coaches Mike O’Koren and Greg Vetrone?
MK -- “They have a lot of experience and I like them. They always talk about motivating players and they share their experience. I like that about them.”
SR.com -- Away from basketball, how much have you enjoyed the last three years on campus?
MK -- “Great. Just great. I’ve made a lot of friends. Rutgers is like a second home for me. This is my last year, so I love it.”
SR.com -- What kind of career are you looking at if you decide to move on from basketball?
MK -- “I’m majoring in human resource management. This year after the season, I may go somewhere and try to keep playing. If I don’t want to play, I’ll try to work as a graduate assistant coach and get my master’s degree because education is first, and then find a career. Basketball isn’t forever. Who knows in two or three years if I get hurt or if I’m done? Overseas right now, there is not that much opportunity. I know some people are playing there, but they aren’t making a lot of money, and I’m not from this country originally so it will be hard for me to get back here.”