"Center Court" w/ F/C Jack Trotter (#50)

The Bootleg's Men's Basketball Writer Kevin Danna comes through with another revealing Cardinal player conversation, this time bringing us sophomore Jack Trotter. Read on to learn what Stanford big man from the heart of "Bear Territory" has been up to and how he feels about his expected role on the court heading into the 2009-10 season.

"Center Court" w/ F/C Jack Trotter (#50)

Just 31 minutes and 45 seconds into the 2008-2009 season, then-freshman Jack Trotter's mettle was tested.  With his Cardinal team clinging on to a seven-point lead against a pesky Yale team in New Haven, the walk-on forward/center got fouled going up for a shot in the paint and earned himself a trip to the line for his first collegiate free throws. 

"I was pretty confident, but at the same time, I was really nervous- it was my first game, and it was on the road," reminisces Trotter.  And it wasn't just any normal home game for Yale. By visiting the Bulldogs' campus, Stanford became the first Pac-10 school to play at the new John J. Lee Amphitheater.  So with the Yale fans out in full force and screaming at the Moraga (Calif.) native as he stepped to the line, these weren't your typical free throws. 

Think all of those factors would faze Trotter?  Not at all. 

"My hands were probably shaking a little bit, but I made them both, and that was a big confidence-booster right there," Jack says.   Neither free throw left any room for doubt, as the big man nailed both and increased the lead to nine en route to Stanford's 75-67 triumph over a highly competitive Ivy League squad. 

Trotter, who said he had experience taking free throws in big spots at Campolindo High School, used his clutch makes against Yale to propel him to an impressive freshman campaign.  Though he only averaged six minutes of floor time over 21 games played as a reserve, the East Bay youngster made the most of his opportunities and played well enough to earn a scholarship for the 2009-2010 season. 

In addition to holding his own on the defensive end and grabbing rebounds, Trotter showed flashes of offensive brilliance.  In a game at the McKale Center against the Arizona Wildcats, Trotter on one play got past two future NBA draft picks in Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger en route to an authoritative slam dunk. 

When asked to describe the play, Jack said, "The ball got kicked out to me, and Jordan Hill was right in front of me, but he didn't seem to be taking me seriously as an offensive threat so I gave him an up-fake and he wanted to block my shot, so he flew past me.  So I just took one dribble and elevated before [Budinger] could get over and dunked it."

The improvement seen in the play of Trotter over the course of last season was due in large part to his greatly-improved footwork.  Now a sophomore, the 6-9 post player explained the progress he made in his footwork over the course of his freshman year:

"I think it was just repetition of what Coach (Dick) Davey had been teaching me.  You do something 1,000 times and you're definitely going to show improvement in that area". 

In all practices last season, when the groups would be divided by "littles" and "bigs", Associate Head Coach Davey would take the post players and work on footwork techniques for at least 15 minutes in various game situations with the ball in the low-post, high-post, and short-corner, everywhere a power forward or center would be working on the offensive end. (Note: Coach Davey is so well-known for being a master of footwork that Bill Duffy, a former Bronco himself, brought his client, former UConn star Hasheem Thabeet to learn from the Santa Clara legend before the NBA Draft this last April.)

A little bit on skinny side his freshman year, Jack used the off-season to hit the weights hard and often.  One look at the Campolindo grad and you can easily see that the hard work paid off. 

"During the season I got the experience to know what it's like to play against Pac-10 centers," says Trotter, "And I realized I needed to hit the weights and bulk up.  I probably gained 15 or 20 pounds over the summer."  The increase in weight will surely help him bang down low with the likes of Michael Dunigan, Drew Gordon, and Eric Boateng on a weekly basis.

Looking forward to the 2009-2010 campaign, Trotter is ready to take on an increased workload. 

"Wherever they need me, I'll be there," he says, "I've been working on my defense and running the court and rebounding, so I think I can really contribute in those areas, areas where at times we were a little spotty last year."

If it sounds like Trotter is uncertain which position (PF or C) he'll play this year, it's because he is.  Standing at six-feet, nine- inches and weighing in at 220 pounds, Jack is your typical "tweener" in the post.  With that type of versatility, his positioning during the game will change as the five on the floor for the Cardinal change. 

"It depends on whom I play with.  Josh Owens is a power forward, not a center, and he had to play the ‘5' last year.  If I'm in with him, then I'd probably play at center and let him play at the ‘4'," Trotter states.

The 49er and Giants fan (a serious point of contention between Trotter and this author) was also able to give us some insight on what has been taking place at team workouts so far.  On September 15th, the team began preparations for 2009-2010, and defense has been the primary focus.  "We've been working mostly, all 13 of us, on defense and recently we just started putting in the offense, a couple of changes from last year, but defense has been a really big focus for this coaching staff and the guys," reports the sophomore. 

While the guys have been working hard on the court, they can't seem to get enough of each other off the court.  Every player interviewed by The Bootleg so far has raved about the team chemistry, and Jack is no exception. 

"We all like each other, we all like having each other around," Trotter states, "People are really good friends and want to hang out every weekend and week nights.  Everyone is just the best of friends, and I know it sounds cliché, but that's the way it is."

With his parents both graduating from Stanford, Trotter has been all Cardinal since the day he was born.  A huge football fan, he states that he has been to at least 50 Stanford Football games over the years.  Thus, when he makes a prediction about the upcoming Stanford-UCLA game, you have to put some stock into it.  When asked about what's going to happen this Saturday and whether it will lead to a national ranking for the Cardinal if they are successful, Trotter replied:

"We will win; we will win big, and yes, Stanford will be deserving of a Top-25 ranking".

Let's hope the Card will be as clutch this weekend as Trotter was last November at the free-throw line.

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.

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