Ryan Mendez Interview - Part III

The Bootleg had a chance to sit down with junior forward Ryan Mendez.

The Bootleg: Do you know anything about this absent Pac-10 champs banner?

Ryan Mendez: Oh, yeah, yeah. I was asking somebody about that, and they said they needed to redo a lot of the banners. They have volleyball, women's basketball and others in there. They were trying to maybe redo all the banners... or something like that. Yeah, we were asking about that. We thought that at our first Pac-10 game, it would be released, but it never has. It's kind of funny that they wouldn't do that for us.

The Bootleg: So have people on the team been wondering about this?

Ryan Mendez: I think so. We don't really dwell on it, but it's something we're proud of and something we want again this year.

The Bootleg: How many Pac-10 championships are you going to have by the time you leave?

Ryan Mendez: (no hesitation) Three. I feel kind of bad because I wasn't really a part of the one last year. I was, a little bit, hanging out with the guys... But as far as getting in the game and battling with they guys, I didn't really feel a part of that... but that is really my goal this year - to win the Pac-10.

The Bootleg: How many NCAA championships?

Ryan Mendez: I wouldn't mind two, but we'll definitely take one.

The Bootleg: Speaking of last year, were you healthy enough to play at the end of the season, and how did you come to decide on the redshirt versus coming back?

Ryan Mendez: I definitely don't think I was healthy enough to go at the end of last year. I wasn't even medically cleared to play until mid-June, July. I didn't even do anything on the court until May. Before then, everything was geared towards the weightroom, stretching - icing and stretching a lot. I was in the training room doing two-a-days, with two hours in the morning and an hour and a half in the afternoon up until late April or early May. Then I started pliometric drills, to where I got my jumping back, riding the bike a little bit. But no, I definitely wasn't ready to come back.

The Bootleg: How are you holding up this year?

Ryan Mendez: Pretty well. A lot better than I expected. Even during the summer time, I typically would go shoot or lift in the morning, then lift in the afternoon. You know, after a while your body gets some wear and tear on it. I think what was slow about that process was getting adjusted to everything. I would have to ice my knee after working out - I definitely felt the pain. I don't like taking anti-inflamatory medications, so I didn't take that during the summertime. But I felt some twinges every now and then, and I was a little worried about that. As we got back and went through the first few weeks of practice, I survived them relatively pain-free. It's been great ever since.

The Bootleg (LeftCoast): Can you comment on the various Stanford point guards you have played with and how they affected your game? How did you adjust your game when the PG role passed from Brevin to Art to McDonald?

Ryan Mendez: Freshman year, I was on the White team, and so I played with Art a lot. Typically, playing with Art means he'll look for you, but both Art and Brevin had a scorer's mentality. They want to get to the hole. Well, at least Brevin did in college; not so much now in the NBA, where he dishes more. Mikey is so unselfish, and he's a huge part of why the team is doing so well this year. He doesn't mind giving it up - he wants to give it up. He wants to make the extra pass, to hit guys just right so they're ready to shoot. He's done a tremendous job this year.

The Bootleg (Encina 502): Did you play any other sports in high school, and if so, what did you do well?

Ryan Mendez: I played baseball as a freshman. I was decent, and kind of wish I had stuck with it. But my heart was in basketball.

The Bootleg: We're noticing that your name isn't at the top of this free throw ladder. What's up with that?

Ryan Mendez: I don't know. (laughs) No, it will be pretty soon. It was up there for the most part of this year. Sometimes at the end of practice, your mind may be somewhere else. You might ease up just a little bit, which I never should do.

The Bootleg: Will we see you in the NBA in two years?

Ryan Mendez: I hope so. I hope so. It's funny because when you're in this program, you have to sacrifice your individual statistics a little bit, as well as playing time. We all really buy in to the fact that when we win, we all are going to get noticed. You look at some other Pac-10 guys and say, "Oh this or that guy is all-conference." But when you look at his stats, you see that he's playing 40 minutes. Whereas when you look here, we're playing 25 - 30 minutes tops. Obviously, then, our stats are going to be down a little bit. I think that's why our guys individually don't get the notoriety that some others do - as far as the awards. But our awards come in the post-season, in winning the Pac-10 and then the NCAA championship.

The Bootleg: Do you think you guys are getting the local press or notoriety that you deserve?

Ryan Mendez: We talk about that amongst ourselves, every now and then. It's not really that big of a deal, but I think if we were a school located in Lawrence, Kansas and the number one team in the country, the place would be upside-down. Around here, people have so many things going on and so many things to do, with Silicon Valley and all that. That might be why the some of interest is down a bit. It's been great, though, this year. The fans, for the most part, have been great this year, and the Sixth Man has been great. But I do think that if we were located in a small town somewhere else, we'd be noticed more.

The Bootleg (Lewster64): Any difference entering a game five minutes into the game versus at the start?

Ryan Mendez: I don't think so. I think when you're on the bench, it really lets you focus and see what the other team is trying to do - whether they're trying to pressure the wings, whether they're laying off, whether they're doubling down in the post, where the screens are coming from on the defensive end. It kind of lets you see the flow of the game. Do I like it more on the bench? No, I don't like it more on the bench. I definitely would love to be out there again. But I have to concentrate on the things I can control. The things I can't control - don't worry about them. Just keep playing. It has been an adjustment, but not necessarily for the worse.

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