Hoops Media Day: Interview with T.J. Cummings

Senior forward <b>T.J. Cummings</b> is suspended for the first three games of the season. At Media Day on Thursday he talked about what he's doing to get re-instated, and the new atmosphere around the team with the new coaching staff...

Senior forward T.J. Cummings is suspended for the fall quarter, missing the two exhibition games and the three first regular season games, including against Kentucky at the Wooden Classic.

Cummings needs to fulfill some course work in the fall quarter to be re-instated to the team for winter quarter, which would make him eligible for the Loyola Marymount game December 13th.

Cummings addressed some questions at media day Thursday about his status.

On how confident he is he'll be re-instated: "I'm very confident. I have tutors for every one of my classes. I've been going to class early and getting to know my professors and T.A.s. I've been putting in a lot of extra effort. I'm just not trying to pass these classes, but pass them with flying colors. That way you're not worrying about something at the last minute.

"I'm doing well. It was rough in the first week. It was the first time I ever had this kind of schedule change. The rough part was getting my body in the the rhythm of doing that kind of thing, getting up. After a week and a half of that my body got used to it. I've been getting up at eight, seven o'clock every morning.

But it's been good. I've gotten an understanding for all my classes and all my professors, and my T.A.s Then I come in here and work with the new coaches. So it's all work."

On how determined he is: "Very determined. I can't wait to get back. I actually feel that I'm very fortunate that it's only going to be three regular-season games I'm going to miss before the winter quarter. I'm taking it in stride, putting the things behind me that happened in the past and moving on. This is actually the first time I've ever been ineligible in my life, so I'm not used to it. It made it so I've put even more of an effort into my school work, just like I do on the basketball court. My thing is that I'm working so hard in class that there's really no way for mistakes."

On exactly what he has to accomplish in the classroom: "I'm taking four classes and I have to pass these four classes. There are a certain amount of units I have to get. There was a class during the spring, and that was the reason I'm in the situation I'm in right now. For the most part, I took it for what it was. I'm not upset or anything, it's behind me and I have to keep moving. I could be cleared with around a C average, but I'm setting my sights higher, because I don't want to leave any room for mistakes."

On having bulked up physically: "I've gained about five pounds since last season. I might have gained a little more. I changed up my diet a lot. I added on another meal. And I've been putting in a lot more extra work in the weight room. I'm trying to get my bench up to aboutg 300. Coach has emphasized it, but I wanted to do it myself, too. I'm a senior now and I wanted to get my body ready for something very serious coming up in this period of my life. There are going to be a lot of things I'm going to be trying to do in the future, so I'm trying to get my body ready for everything."

On the transition from the last coaching staff to the new one: "The transition has been good. Coach Howland is the reason I've been so eager to get everything taken care of. Just not for myself, but he gave me an understanding of how things could pan out if I take care of business out here and in the classroom. My thing is I'm trying to get that done, move on from it, and have fun during the season. Make some big noise out there."

On his admiration for Coach Howland's Pittsburgh teams: "They played really well. They're great on defensive end of the court. On the offensive end, they were very poised and had an understanding of what they need to do. Everybody on the team has a role. I watched that and really liked. He makes sure everyone is doing their certain things. He was explaining that to us, the way he coaches it. It's a lot of fun. Incrementally we've been doing things in practice in the individual workouts."

On the difference in temperament between Howland and former coach Steve Lavin: "It's two different kind of people. Everyone has their different ways to approach things. I can't really even comment on either way, because when you coach there really isn't a wrong way. Coach Howland is just really straight-forward and I definitely like that about him. He comes straight with it. We know exactly what he wants from us. He tells the truth so much you have to be able to take it any way it comes. I really respect that about him, because you know exactly what you're getting. He's not going to make it sweet for you. If it's bitter, you have to take it like that."

On if there is zero wiggle room with Howland: "I wouldn't want to have wiggle room, to tell you the truth. I want a situation with him where we're taking care of business, where we're trying to be the best team that we can be out here. It's a situation where nobody really knows what's going to happen (with positions and playing time) so it's really competitive right now and a lot of fun to be a part of."

On whether Howland's emphasis on defense will help the team: "That'd be great. Our best games last season were when our defense was on point. When you see that our rebounding was going well and the defense, it makes a big difference. I think that will be a big part of this team since it's something Coach Howland really stresses. Offense is something that all of the players on our team have that's not hard to come by. The defensive part is something you have to work on. That you can do every night. And you can be successful at it if you just put your mind to it."

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