"In the Paint" w/ F/C Andrew Zimmerman (#34)

The Cardinal's graduation- and draft-reduced frontcourt received a critical transfusion of new blood in the offseason when 6'9" post Andrew Zimmerman, a 21-year-old sophomore who played his first year at Santa Clara University, transferred to the Farm. The Bootleg's Kevin Danna had a chance to welcome the new "TMOC" ("Tall Man On Campus") and learn what Stanford fans can expect from the big fella.

"In the Paint" with F/C Andrew Zimmerman (#34)

The Bootleg: Being a Wisconsin kid, I'm sure you got a little attention from some Big-10 and Horizon League programs, so what made you decide to go all the way out west to Santa Clara, and what other schools were you considering in choosing a college?

Andrew Zimmerman: Well, the biggest thing for me was if I didn't get a look from Wisconsin, which kind of fell through a little bit, then I just wanted to see something new.  I didn't want to stay in the area, so when that fell through (with the Badgers), I was like, I wanted to see something else.  Even though I was recruited by some of the Horizon League schools, I ended up looking at American, Rice, and Santa Clara, which were East Coast, Texas, and West Coast.

TB: You were recruited by Coach Davey to the South Bay, so I'm sure he was pretty big factor in getting you to come to The Farm when he was hired as the Associate Head Coach last year.  How did that play out as far as you being able to transfer to Stanford?

AZ: When I found out Coach Davey came to Stanford and the situation at Stanford, with having lost the Lopez Twins, who were obviously big contributors, I decided that with my situation at Santa Clara, I'd like to transfer and then put Stanford down on my list as one of the schools I'd like to look at.  And with that, I had to get permission before I could talk to Stanford, so I asked the AD at Santa Clara and he said to call Stanford and if they were interested, [Santa Clara] would release me.  I talked to Coach Davey, who talked to the coaches and showed them some tape.  I came to some "open gyms", and then the coaches said if you want to come, you're welcome to it.

TB: Unfortunately, you weren't able to transfer directly to Stanford and had to practice with the Foothill College (Los Altos, CA)team last season.  Talk a little bit about your experience at Foothill with the "Owls".

AZ: It was a good place to get classes taken care of, and the Foothill campus is really close to Stanford.  Obviously, I would have liked to have been here right away and have practiced with the team and worked out with the team.  I think that would have been really good for my development as a player.  But Coach Rosenberg, the Foothill coach, has been around Coach Davey and talked to Coach Davey and knows a little bit of his coaching style.  And being so close, he could also communicate with the coaches and come up to Stanford practices and see what was going on.  So I think it worked out really well, being a next-best-case scenario.

TB: Santa Clara listed you at 6-9, 225, but Stanford lists you at 6-8, 215- which height/weight do you think is more accurate?

AZ: Well, I'm definitely 6-9; we did the measurement test with Keith [the Strength and Conditioning Coach].  Currently I'm at 220, but I think they're listing me at a little bit of a smaller size, but that's fine with me (Laughs).

TB: In the one game where your official position was listed, when you started against Utah State for the Broncos, you were listed as a forward, but Jon Bryant was the center, and there isn't a guy on this team as tall or wide as Bryant.  So where do you see yourself fitting on this team?  Are you going to be playing the 4 or 5, and do you have a preference for one position over the other?

AZ: I'm most comfortable at the 4 because that's the position I've played most of my life.  I've played a little at the 5, depending on what type of team we're playing.  I feel comfortable in the post, I feel comfortable guarding bigger and heavier guys.  But I also feel comfortable at the 3 and see myself being more of a face-the-basket guy in the future than a "back-to-the-basket", "pound-it-inside" kind of guy, especially if I want to play professionally, obviously a 6-9 center is small, and so is a 6-9 power forward.  So in college, I can play wherever they need me - I can play at the 3, 4, and 5. 

TB: For those who haven't gotten the chance to see you play, give us a player or two after whom you would say you most model your game...

AZ: Well, this being a Coach Dawkins system with a lot of the Duke staff, Shane Battier would be obviously someone I'd love to play like; that guy can really do it all.  Obviously he was more of a 3, but when he was at Duke, he would do it all - play in the post, really move the ball well, and really play the game smart.  So that's the guy I'd like to most model my game after, maybe get a little of the "back-to-the-basket", get more involved as a post player, and those types of things. [Editor's Note: In a recent conversation with Coach Dawkins, a comparison also was made to NBA player Chris Bosh, current team captain of the Toronto Raptors who produced an impressive 22.7 ppg & 10.0 rpg in 2008-2009 and played on the gold-medal-winning US  Olympic team for which Dawkins served as Director of Personnel this past summer]

TB: You weren't able to play with the Cardinal last year, in games or in practices, but I know you kept a close eye on the team and attended just about every home game in 2008-09.  Based on what you saw last year, and from the pick-up games and few individual workouts you've had this year, what do you think you can add to the team?

AZ: I think I can add rebounding, making the play when it's needed, and some basketball intelligence.  I feel like I can be a player that can combine a couple of things that other guys did last year, but as just one player.  I love playing defense, making tough plays, and getting stops.  I'm gonna play hard every possession on offense and really work for offensive rebounds, so just being a contributing player in every aspect in which we play the game.

TB: Individual workouts started last week on the 15th of September [the very first time Coach Dawkins had a chance to see Zimmerman on the court]. I know it's been only a couple of sessions, but how have things been going for you?

AZ: They've been going really well; the staff has been really focused on getting me comfortable with the system and what they were doing last year, just the basic stuff that they want guys to know so that we're all coming in to practices on the same page, all doing the same things, all ready to go, so that when full-on practice rolls around in October, we can just start running and really make a big step this year - right from the start.

TB: You were able to stay in the area over the summer and put in a lot of work to develop your game.  What would you say you worked on the most to help improve yourself as a player?

AZ: Just getting back into the style of a low-post player again.  Obviously, being out of the game for a long time, being a post-player is really physically demanding.  There's a lot of banging going on down there.  And just getting back into a comfortable position as a post player.   I was playing in the Pro-Am this summer and playing against really physical and athletic guys.   So just being able to come in and hold my own, make good solid moves, those were the things I worked on most.  And then obviously touching up my shot and things like that, so that also helped.

TB: You arrived here with sophomore eligibility, but you've already been out of high school for a couple of years, so I would imagine you are further along with your academics.  But being a transfer, how many of your units from Santa Clara and Foothill carry over to The Farm?

AZ: Only 90, but like you said, being a sophomore, it gives me plenty of units with adequate time to graduate and take care of academics.  It's nice because I can start out slowly and get acquainted with things.  It's also nice that I have the experience of school and classes (from previous colleges) so that I'm not going to be overwhelmed right from the start.

TB: Do you have to go through "IHUM", as well as "PWR", a couple of courses that all incoming Freshman have to take, or are you exempted from that?

AZ: I don't have to take "IHUM" (Introduction to the Humanities), but I do have to take my "PWR 2" (Program in Writing & Rhetoric) assignment this autumn.  But I don't have to take any core for my major because I took all of that already.  So basically after my "PWR 2", I have to take three or four Gen-Ed classes to satisfy the Gen-Ed requirements and then all the rest after that are advanced classes for my major.

TB: How are your new digs in the dorm?  Did you luck out on getting a two-room double?  I know that's pretty tough to get unless you're a senior.

AZ: (Laughs).  Yeah, it's nice.  It has worked out for me too - a lot of the transfers that are in my dorm are really nice guys and it also worked out that I got a two-room double.  It works out nicely with my roommate- we get along really well.  I saw some of the one-room (doubles) as well and they looked really nice, so it would have worked out either way.

TB: Back to the court.  In your short time playing for Coach Dawkins, what are some things that you like about the team and the upcoming season?

AZ: Well I really like our versatility.  We have a lot of guys who can play different positions, we can really get up and down because obviously Coach wants to run.  So I just like that aspect and the energy we've brought - we've really been working hard. Our guys really want to improve this year over last year.  And now that we've been in the new system, I think it's really going to help this year over last year.

TB: In your mind, what do you think it will take for the Cardinal to be successful on the floor in 2009-2010, and what will be your approach in holding up your end of the bargain?

AZ: I think we have a lot of skilled and talented guys and like every other team that we are going to play, I think the difference is going to be our energy and our intensity and the level of commitment we have to each other as a team that we bring each day to practice- when one guy is down, we will need to pick that guy up.  I think what I'm going to bring that is the same that every other guy is going to bring - we're going to bring the intensity! I'm going to come to practice every day and be intense and physical, make my teammates better, but then also realize that if one of my guys needs to be picked up, I need to be helping them out and encouraging them to try to get everybody on the same page.  I think we're doing a great job of that so far - everyone is real close together, the coaching staff really looks out for us, we respect the coaching staff, there are no real "attitude" issues, so I think that as far as what we have to do, we're in a perfect position to do it.

TB: With a lot of the other guys, I asked them about defense in general, but with you, since you're a "big", let's talk about rebounding, something that you will definitely be called upon to do.   Obviously rebounding is of great importance to a team's success, but talk about how grabbing boards on the defensive end can help jump-start this team going the other way.

AZ:  Josh, Jack, Elliot, Landry, Matei and I -we need to get rebounds. Obviously the guards are going to crash the boards, but if the guards don't have to worry about it nearly as much, it just helps out the team so much more because they can get out on the wings, they can start pushing the ball more, they can have a little more confidence in the "bigs" to get rebounds so they can get down the floor.  It just starts our offense so much faster than if we have to get all five guys to crash the boards every time; you don't get as many fast-break opportunities that way.  So obviously, rebounding is going to be a huge thing for Josh, me, Jack, Josh, Landry, Elliot, Matei, to just be able to hold our own on the boards so the guards can get ready for the break and really play hard.  And then on the offensive end, we need to keep the ball alive and give our team more possessions.

TB: Final question "Z"- what's your prediction on the upcoming Stanford-UW football game?  Will Harbaugh's group get to 3-1 on the year?

AZ: I hope so. I'm really excited for the football team, they're looking great.  But then again, Washington beat USC and they're playing good football as well.  I'm excited to see the game, but I think the Card can do it, so I'm gonna have to stand by Stanford on this one.

TB: Well that's it, "Z".  Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to hang with The Bootleg.

AZ: All right, sounds good.

About the Bootleg's Newest Author: Kevin Danna, Stanford '09, started out as a student manager-in-training for the Men's Basketball Team on October 14, 2005, and has lived and breathed Stanford Basketball ever since. From doing laundry to filming practice to working summer camps, he has been involved with many facets of the Men's Basketball program.  Upon retirement from his manager position on March 25, 2009 at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, Kevin took an undeservedly prolonged break from any kind of work and eventually got his degree from The Farm in Spanish.  Shaking off the cobwebs of five months of laziness, Kevin has started working as a play-by-play and color broadcaster for gostanford.com, calling home contests (in English) for several Stanford sports.  He also hosts a sports talk show on 90.1 FM KZSU from 9-10pm every Tuesday entitled "The Sports Zoo", as well as a music show called "408's Finest" immediately following sports talk from 10pm-Midnight.  An alumnus of San Jose's Bellarmine Prep, Kevin proudly admits that he currently lives at home in San Jose with his parents and cat and definitely "has his swag on!"

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