Brook Lopez Interview

With their high school careers just concluded, the Lopez Twins have descended upon San Diego for their chance to enjoy and shine in the McDonald's All-American Game. After the first practice on Sunday, we talked with the more offensively-minded of the twin brothers. 7'0" 255-pound Brook Lopez discussed his trip to the Ronald McDonald House, playing with future Pac-10 opponents, his areas of improvement and more.

Well, Brook, what have you all done so far?

"We've done some shooting.  We played against each other - gone up and down.  Rebounding.  A bunch of stuff like that.  A lot of stretching and warming up - just getting ready for the week."

What activities have you done off the court?

"We've gone to the Ronald McDonald House.  That's what this is all about, you know.  We're raising money for the Ronald McDonald House and all those children there."

What was that experience like?

"I've never been before.  I loved it.  It was eye-opening to see all of those kids.  Some of them are terminally ill, but they're so upbeat - happy and loving life.  It was nice to go see them."

What was the environment like for you today in your first practice?

"I just had to get adjusted.  We all played pretty well together.  This is the best of the best, so a lot of guys are playing great.  I want to play up to their level, so I have to go hard."

What is different in playing in this environment with these players, from what you played in high school the last five months?

"In high school, there may be just one good player on a team, so if you get past him, you can get to the bucket.  Whereas if you get past one guy here, there are four guys just as good.  You have to beat them, too.  It's real difficult, so you have to adjust."

You and Robin are out here on the same team, but in practice you guys are defending each other a lot.  What is that like?

"It's just like high school [laughs].  It's like practice everyday.  You just hammer against each other and work hard against each other.  So it's pretty much the same thing."

I know you have had just this one practice, but what do you think is the identity - what do you think are the skills and advantages for this West team heading into Wednesday night?

"I think we just have such a bigger frontline.  They have Greg [Oden], but we have me, Spencer [Hawes], Robin - Darrell [Arthur] is big, too.  And Chase [Budinger] and everyone.  We are just so big."

Last time I talked to you here in San Diego, it was after a disappointing loss against Greg [in the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival].  You said that you wanted to get stronger.  You wanted to work on some things for the next time.  How do you think that you are improved for the rematch?

"I think I am improved.  I think I'm quicker.  I think I am stronger.  I worked on a bunch of post moves with my older brother and trainer.  I think I'm ready for it."

Do you guys have any idea yet from the coaches what the lineup and rotation will be like for Wednesday?

"No, not yet.  No, we don't have an idea.  That's what we were doing today in practice - seeing what works best.  Who complements each other well."

How do you think that you and Robin will be used differently on this team?

"I think Robin will play solely inside.  I hopefully will get a chance to play the wing.  If we get some high-low action between the two, then who knows what we can do."

Some of your teammates here are future Pac-10 foes.  Chase Budinger going to ArizonaJames Keefe to UCLA.  Spencer Hawes to Washington.  Do you guys have any rivalry talk going back and forth?

"We've just been talking about how strong the Pac-10 is going to be next year.  It's really biased how everybody talks about how great the East Coast schools are.  We were talking about how great it would be to get Washington and UCLA into the Final Four.  We're going to have a strong year in the Pac-10 next year."

Any of the guys give you a hard time about Stanford not making the [NCAA] Tournament this year, ending that 11-year streak?

"Aww, no.  I keep them off that subject. [laughs]"

What were your reactions watching Stanford this year, and how are you going to look to come in and help?

"It was really disappointing, you know, but it makes me want to work harder so that we can do better next year and make the Tournament.  I want to play really well."

There is not much practice time scheduled before Wednesday night's game.  What are you looking to work on out here?

"I felt like I wasn't hitting well.  I just wasn't playing well at all - I thought about myself.  I just want to work harder and get better - get back to the old form."

What is the specific challenge?  What do you think was missing in practice today?

"I wasn't playing strong today, like I have been in the last year.  That was my biggest problem.  I just need to assert myself."


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