"Center Court" with F/C Elliott Bullock [#40]

The Bootleg's Men's Basketball Writer Kevin Danna continues driving to the hoop with another installment in his award-winning series of "Center Court" conversations, this time shining the spotlight on 6-10 true sophomore forward-center Elliott Bullock. We learn what "Bull" has been up to and how he's preparing for the Cardinal's righteous run in 2009-10.

"Center Court" with PF/C Elliott Bullock (#40)

The Bootleg: We are here with Stanford Basketball's 6-10 sophomore center/power forward Elliott Bullock. Being a Salt Lake City-kid, I know you're a huge Utah Jazz fan.  You were probably a little too young to fully remember the greatness of Karl Malone in his heyday in Utah, but how big of an influence has "The Mailman" been on your game?

Elliott Bullock: The one thing that I'd say that I try to bear in mind about Karl Malone that was so incredible was that when he got the rebound and would outlet the ball to Stockton, he was always the first one down the floor, running to the hoop, getting the lay-up and the easy bucket.  And it was all because of his heart and intensity, how he would will his way down the court and beat everyone down there and get the easy bucket.  And it's one of those things that when you get the rebound, you can stop and think about it and say "Eh, I can lolly-gag down", but how much more beneficial is it to sprint down, run your butt off, and get the easy two?  So I would say that in particular is what I remember about Karl Malone and try to incorporate into my game.

TB: You get to go to any Jazz playoff games?  If so, which one was the most memorable?

EB: Well I've been to a few.  The ones that are most memorable are the most recent ones.  I got to see them whoop on your Warriors a little bit, and that was pretty memorable just because we weren't expected to go to the Western Conference Finals.  We were kind of the new kids- well, I guess the Warriors were having knocked off the 1-seed-but for the most part we were the young guys and nobody really expected a whole lot out of us and being the Jazz. It was just fun to watch them mature and grow and watch Derron Williams become the great player he is now, Carlos Boozer make a statement about what Cleveland was missing in a player.  I was there for the Series Clincher against the Warriors- that was just fun to see that.  Everybody had the blue Jazz t-shirts, and I had one on, and it was just really fun.

TB: I remember asking you this a couple of times last year but I forgot: were you a Ute or BYU guy?

EB: I'm a Ute- I grew up 15-16 blocks from "the U".  Everybody in my family that I'm aware of went to "the U" so I am a Ute!

TB: How much love do schools like Weber State and Southern Utah get from the local media?

EB: When Weber State went to the tournament a few years back, they were predicted to finish in the lower half of the Big Sky, and when they won it and got into the tournament and played UCLA in the first round, the local media made a pretty big deal about the turnaround.  But it's definitely the highs and lows- if you're doing well, they give you a lot of love, and if you're not doing well, they don't really care about you.

TB: Let's talk about you and Stanford Basketball.  Watching you in practice and games last year, I was really impressed by your ability to hit the short corner jumper, one of the trickier shots in basketball.  Is this a trait you've always possessed, or something that you developed recently?

EB: In terms of just going around shooting and working on my shot, that's where I always start, so that might be part of it.  But also I figured out that's where I was going to get open during the season and being kind of new, I wanted to play off people so I practiced that shot a lot on my own.

TB: What are some other strengths of your game, and what have you been working on the most to improve over the summer and in individual workouts so far this year?

EB: Something that I like about my game is that I feel like I'm a fairly complete player- I can do a little bit of everything- I can shoot, I can pass.  I'm particularly proud of my passing and my rebounding.  I also feel I can defend and help the team in a lot of ways- I'm not limited to just scoring or shooting.  As far as what I've been working on, I would say it's just trying to be more aggressive- last year, I felt like I played a little too timid, I deferred a little too much to everyone else.  And it's hard to say you could work on it outside of practice, but I guess practicing with more intensity, or with more intent to score, if that's possible, or just taking more shots in pick-up games; trying to establish some confidence in my game and what I know I can do so my teammates know what I can do.

TB: You're the tallest guy on the team, so I guess that makes you the center by default, but the gostanford.com roster lists you as a combo F/C.  So are we going to see you in spots as a power forward this year?

EB: I hope so- I hope I can convince the coaches of that.  I feel like it can make the other big guys better by getting them the ball and freeing them up a little bit with my ability to shoot.  Or the inverse of that- bring in someone like Zimmerman who's a good shooter and can play outside a little bit more, and he can play off me and I can play inside.  So just by making the other "bigs" a little bit better, I hope I can play at the "4" a little bit.

TB: What did you learn from the 2008-09 season on the court that you will take with you into 2009-10 and beyond?

EB: You have to be tough - no one is going to give you anything.  You have to work hard and you have to take it.  You always have to be working- if you're not working, somebody else is and is looking to take advantage of that.  I also learned that teamwork, team cohesiveness is very important to success.  You have to want to see your teammates do well- you have to root for them and get them to root for you.  So just playing as a unit, playing together, playing tough, those are the things I'd say I really learned from last year.

TB: As a post-player, you work closest with Coach Davey.  Talk a little about how he has helped you as a player.

EB: I would say Coach Davey has helped me to slow down a little bit, see my moves a little bit better, to expand the repertoire with which I work in the post.  Also, to be a little more confident in my game, to be more aggressive like I talked about needing to do.  I'd say he's also helped defensively just in terms of the little things that you can only pick up after watching and coaching the game for so long.  He has picked up all these little things that you can only know after being around the game for so long that will help you offensively and defensively; just little intricacies in the game.

TB: You guys have a new Strength & Conditioning Coach this year with Keith D'Amelio arriving in Palo Alto.  As a big, how similar or different is your current weight training regimen as opposed to with former S&C coach Preston Greene?

EB: It's not as aggressive as it used to be- I feel like it works.  Coach Keith does it a little more differently- given that he had a background in sports medicine, he's more concerned with doing things properly and getting more focused movements, one-leg training and basketball-specific training.  Preston was great in that he got us a lot bigger and a lot stronger, but it wasn't as specific lifting that would pertain to basketball.

TB: With a year in the Coach Dawkins motion offense and man-to-man defense system under your belt, how do you think you guys as a team are going to improve in both areas?

EB: I would say in terms of offense, just knowing how to play off your teammates, and knowing that if someone likes to drive, you should stay on the other side of the court and let them use their strengths and utilize their abilities; and having the familiarity with your teammates that you get from last year, and with the offense itself, you get a better feel about that.  With the defense, I feel like everybody last year was trying so hard that we missed some of the concepts- we were just going out and attacking them.  This year, we know where we want to focus them, how we want to play them, so we can have controlled pressure as opposed to all-out pressure, if that makes sense.

TB: If you had to nail it down to one thing, what do you think will be the most important factor in making 2009-2010 Stanford Basketball a force to be reckoned with?

EB: Defense.  If we play defense, we can play with anybody.  That's all there is to it.  Defense creates offense, defense limits their offense and gets them flustered.  If we play defense, we can beat anybody.

TB: You changed your number from "51" to "40".  I'm an odd-number kind of guy.  What' is the deal here?

EB: When I first came, they gave Jack, Matei and me just numbers, and I didn't like being thought of as a number.  I've always liked the number "40", and I thought it was a little more "me".

TB: As a Human Biology major, I hear sophomore year is the hardest.  I know we're only in Week 2, but how is it so far?

EB: It's good from the standpoint of interest - I find it very interesting.  It's certainly very demanding.  It takes up a lot of my day just in terms of class, a lot of my in terms of having to go back and read and re-read and review my notes so I'm prepared for class.  But overall, I feel like it's nice to actually study something that you're interested in.

TB: All right Elliott, I'm gonna put you on the hot seat for the final question: where will the Jazz finish in the Western Conference this year?

EB: (sighs)  Ah, that's going to be tough - let me think.   We have the Lakers, Mavs will be good, San Antonio will be really good- I actually think the Spurs are going to be first, so I'm going with fourth.  I feel like we're really going to make a statement this year.

TB: Well that's it, "Bull".  Great job, man, and thanks so much for your time.

EB: You got it, Kevo.

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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