Meet Matt Haryasz - Part III

This third part of our interview with incoming big man Matt Haryasz looks at some of his big AAU matchups and performances, comparisons with Curtis Borchardt, replacing Curtis Borchardt, summer workouts and plans, and his view of Stanford basketball.

The Bootleg: As you played games with your high school and with the Arizona Heat in the summer, who were some of the very best big men you went up against? How did you fare against them?
Matt Haryasz: Our first game at the "Big Time" was against Baltimore Select, and their highlight player was Carmelo Anthony. I was not always matched up against him, as our coach wanted to be sure that everyone got "seen" at the tournament. His strategy was to play a group of guys 6 minutes in, 6 minutes out. Good idea for a lot of guys to be "seen" but for a player trying to get into the flow of the game, it was difficult. I believe I had 14 points in the loss. Our next game was against the Southeast Raptors, and Jackie Butler was their marquee player. I had 22 points and 12 boards. The following day we played EBO Sports from the San Francisco/Oakland area - I think. David Paris was one of their low post players. I didn't match up with David the entire time, in fact there were several different guys that were matched up with me, but unfortunately I can't recall their names. I scored 33 points grabbed 15 boards and had 8 blocks in that game.

The Bootleg: Is there someone in college basketball right now who you either would compare your game to, or someone whose game you are trying to achieve?
Matt Haryasz: In addition to Curtis' game, I really like Drew Gooden's game. I respect his ability to handle the ball, hit the outside shot and post up with efficiency. He is a great athlete, and despite being 6'10 he runs the floor very well, and that is what I like to do - run the floor.

The Bootleg: Given your size and reputation for perimeter shooting, comparisons have been made to Stanford's own Curtis Borchardt. Given what you've seen from Curtis this year in person and on TV this year, how much of that comparison - or in what areas - would you make?
Matt Haryasz: To compare me, a high school kid, with Curtis, who has the potential to be a high first round draft pick in the NBA, is pretty nice. However, I do understand that you are comparing skills and not skill levels. I do understand how the comparisons of skills can be made. Curtis shoots the ball very well from the outside and so can I. He is also very adapt at blocking shots. At the high school level, so was I. Additionally, I have been told that for a big man, I can defend on the perimeter pretty well, and that I run the floor very well.

The Bootleg: Did you get to work out against Curtis and the guys when you took your visit to Stanford? Would you care to share highlights and/or lowlights from that play? And don't be shy about embarrassing anyone if you rejected any shots? (grin)
Matt Haryasz: As we discussed earlier, I had a very busy summer playing a lot of basketball. Once summer ball was over, I returned to Page, and my recruiting began, I was not playing ball at a very high level. So when I finally got to visit Stanford, and play with the guys, I was in something less than the best of condition. There may have been several blocks or tips, but nothing I'd e-mail home about. In fact, the one thing I recall doing the most during those games was setting screens for Casey!

The Bootleg: You mentioned earlier that you want to get bigger and stronger. What are you doing this spring and summer specifically in the weight room and in your training toward that end?
Matt Haryasz: I am currently following a lifting plan that one of my high school hoop coaches gave me. I have enjoyed that workout. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with Stanford's strength coach, John Murray, and he is in the process of putting together a workout for me. I am looking forward to receiving the plan.

As far as this summer goes, Dan Grunfeld and I have been e-mailing each other and we have talked about making a trip out to Stanford in July and having the opportunity to workout and play some ball with the guys. Nothing has been finalized as of yet, but we are both hoping to pull that off. That is something that both of us would really like to do.

The Bootleg: Have you been given any leadership from the Stanford coaches about what to work on before arriving on campus, or any specific workouts or training methods?
Matt Haryasz: Outside of the conversation with Coach Murray, no. I realize that the spring evaluation period recently concluded so I imagine that all the coaches have been very busy traveling and checking out players throughout the country. I would imagine that once they finish their evaluations and have some additional free time, I will be hearing from them.

The Bootleg: From what you got to see in person and on TV this last year, what are your thoughts on the Stanford team? From your observations, how would you describe the team's style of play and tendencies in a scouting report?
Matt Haryasz: I imagine that anyone who followed Stanford basketball this year recognized the team had good games, and others where there was room for improvement. Nevertheless, I was impressed with Stanford this year. Despite losing four starters - just like Arizona, but without the media hype - the team was able to rally and tie for second in the Pac-10. Now, that is pretty good. All year long they played with heart. I really thought that was cool. If I were to describe the team's style of play, I would say that Stanford was a very dominating rebounding team and took pride in playing good defense. Despite much of the offense running through Casey, and the inside looks for Curtis, they did work the ball around for good shots and open takes.

The Bootleg: Obviously you looked closely at the play of Stanford's big men as part of your own evaluation process during your recruitment. What did you see from Stanford's low post and high post game?
Matt Haryasz: I like what coach Montgomery does with his big men. He allows his big men to play at both the low and high post. Those are two areas that I feel very comfortable playing. Depending upon the matchups, he allows his post players to shoot the 15-foot jumper or the three-point shot. That is my game. Additionally, I looked at the success of the most recent big men who have come through the program: Madsen, the Collins twins and Curtis. Obviously Coach Montgomery and his staff know how to develop and utilize big men.

The Bootleg: What did you see from this Stanford team that impressed you? What appealed to you personally, that made you feel like you wanted to play with this team and within this system?
Matt Haryasz: Again, here was a team that lost 4 of its 5 starters. As far as experience is concerned, it was a relatively young team that took the floor each game. Despite that, the team took up the challenge of starting four new guys, and in spite of some inconsistencies involved with a young team, they still won 20 games. That impressed me. I was impressed with the team when they came to Arizona at the end of the season needing a couple of big wins and got them against ASU and UofA. I believe that these guys are winners and don't accept losing easily. That is something I want to be a part of – a successful team that doesn't accept losing.

The Bootleg: If you were an opposing coach set to play Stanford, what would you plan to beat them based on your "scouting?"
Matt Haryasz: From the few chances that I got to see the team play, specifically USC twice, it was apparent they had difficulty breaking the press. In the low post, Curtis was a serious threat. I'd try to stop Curtis from getting off by collapsing on him. I'd also try to make it difficult for them to reverse the ball. At the wing, make it as difficult as possible for Casey to receive the ball, and when he does, double him, as he was their primary outside threat.

The Bootleg: When you reflect upon those challenged areas for Stanford, where do you think you can come in and help your freshman year? How do you think you can bring the most value right away?
Matt Haryasz: I feel that Stanford has the players on the team to improve immediately in those areas. I have confidence in both Julius and Chris at the point and their ability to break the press. As far as I am concerned, as I mentioned before, I can shoot the ball from the outside. Hopefully that would prevent teams from collapsing and clogging the middle. The result being more space for Curtis to work down low or allow others to attack the basket. The bottom line is I will work hard and do whatever the coaches ask me to do

The Bootleg: As you are no doubt aware, Curtis Borchardt is testing the draft waters and might be gone to the NBA when you arrive next fall. If Curtis is gone, how do you think that changes your role as a skilled big man at Stanford?
Matt Haryasz: First let me say, that like everyone else associated with Stanford, I hope that Curtis decides to remain. If he stays, the team would be awesome. I realize that I am the only big man in this year's recruiting class but I don't anticipate Curtis' leaving "changing my role". Stanford has two physical, strong returning low post players in Joe and Rob. With my current size and build, I was told I would be most effective at the 4 spot. I may get minutes at the 5 position if Curtis leaves, but I still anticipate my primary role is playing the 4. My amount of minutes would increase, but I don't see my role changing significantly.

The Bootleg: Does the prospect of Curtis' departure put any added pressure on you to "be ready" for a huge role right away?
Matt Haryasz: To be honest, the possibility of Curtis leaving really doesn't add any more pressure on me to "be ready". I have a good deal of pride in my game. My effort in the weight room and gym is not dependent upon Curtis' staying or going. I plan on working hard regardless. I will do my part to make Stanford successful, but this is a team game and if Curtis and Casey leave, everyone on the team will have to be ready to step up and play a huge role.

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