KC: Josh, let's start at the beginning. At the end of last season you could've left UConn and went to the NBA. Some say you would've easily been a first round draft pick. Why did you come back?
JB: It was a couple of things. It was trying to get closer to my degree because I definitely want to get that. I don't know if I'm going to get it before I leave but I definitely want to get at least as close as possible so that if I have to I can come back for a summer session or a spring session here and there. Also I just didn't feel that I was ready. I wasn't ready to live that kind of lifestyle. I know that there were a lot of things in my game that I wanted to work on. I wanted to take at least one or two extra years and just get myself prepared for that.
KC: You mentioned wanting to work on things. What are some of the things you wanted to work on and improve before you leave this campus?
JB: Mainly the offensive game. It's mainly just a matter of me being more aggressive and being more assertive on the floor. You know not just offensively I guess but defensively as well. Also overall just working on my body and trying to get stronger and get in better condition.
KC: You have always been to me what I call, the "silent assassin". Josh is just kind of quiet but he seems to just go about his business and gets the job done. How are you on yourself? Are you hard on yourself?
JB: Yeah. The coaches always tell me that I'm my biggest critic and that's definitely true. That's just the way that I've always been. I've always been somebody that is really kind of on my own. I mean of course I've had my mother to give me criticism -- constructive criticism. But mainly it's been if something goes wrong I'm the first one that's on myself. It's a good thing and it's a bad thing. It's a good thing because it makes me work harder. It's bad because sometimes it stays on my mind a little bit too long and takes me out of the flow of the game.
KC: Does that affect how the coaches treat you at all? I'm cut from a similar mold that you are. I was pretty hard on myself as a player and I remember my coaches saying "well I don't have to yell at Kristi because she yells at herself enoughf."
JB: No, no, no (laughs). Coach Calhoun – that does not stop him one bit! Now I just have extra criticism not only from him but from myself as well.
he's got clever ways to motivate guys. What are some of the things he might do
to try and motivate you?
JB: I don't know. Last game he put me in and then took me out 28 seconds later or like one play down the floor. That seemed to work because I came out and ended up scoring 11 points in a couple of minutes. (Laughs) So I guess that had an effect.
KC: Is there one part of your game he might pick on more than another?
JB: The assertiveness--just wanting to score. I've seen him say a lot that he doesn't think that I want to score and that's definitely the main thing that he's been trying to get through to me. If I want to be good on this level and make it to the next level I'm going to have to want to score more.
KC: I know it's tough to play for Coach Calhoun but how great is he at getting the best out of you that you've got in there?
JB: (Laughs) He's already shown that with countless people. I'm hopefully just going to be one of many he's brought the best out of and turned into a great player.
KC: I know you've done a lot to improve over your career here. Free throw shooting and the improvement you've shown there stands out. What were you able to do this summer to try and improve? I know you had an injury for part of the summer.
JB: A lot of the summer I was injured. I was injured for basically the second half of the summer so there wasn't really a lot of work that I could do. Once I did get back on the floor it was really just working on offensive moves like one-on-one type moves and extending my range a little bit because typically I stay around the basket. I'm trying to move a little further out and maybe shoot some 12-footers every now and then.
KC: I like a lot of things about your game but I really love how you run the floor…Where does that desire to get up-and-down come from?
JB: That comes
from my AAU team probably because that was basically all we did was run and
press the whole game. We didn't really like to get in the half court game
because we weren't good at halfcourt so we just tried to fastbreak the whole
game. That was actually one of the main reasons I chose
KC: Now when
you came to
JB: Definitely seeing his progression in the two years that he was here before I got here and then seeing what he turned into. And just an opportunity to play side-by-side with him or behind him – whatever it would've been for a year was something I had to look at and really couldn't pass up .
KC: Does coach get on you about being a leader? I know you're an upperclassman, and I know you've got some seniors but…
JB: yeah definitely. There's been a bunch of times where not only coach Calhoun but the other coaches as well come up to me and basically tell me they want me to be a leader and they want me to lead this team along with a couple of other guys as well. I just need to be more vocal I need to kind of come out of the mold that I have right now in terms of just being to myself and really trying to help my teammates especially the freshmen.
KC: It's a tough thing to do when it's not necessarily in your personality. What's it going to take for you to make this change?
JB: (Sighs and shakes head) Just me wanting to do it. Just me realizing that if we're going to be successful we're going to need people to lead us – I'm going to have to be one of those people at this point.
teams that could be there in the end based on early season
JB: It is. Those older guys especially you know Denham and Hilton, and Rashad who have played a lot of minutes in their careers and have been through everything. They've been through the wars, they've been through the Texas game their freshmen year(2003 NCAA Tournament), they've been through the Duke game their sophomore year (2004 Final Four), they've been through a lot and we're going to run into games like that and that's when we're going to need them the most.
KC: So allow yourself to think forward to a special Tuesday in April…if you guys were able to win a national championship, what that would mean for you to have another national championship…how about being able to possibly bookend your career with national championships?
JB: (Smiles and shakes head). That would be incredible. If I had the chance to do something like that along with the other guys, why pass it up? Why shortchange ourselves? And this team definitely has a shot at it.
KC: Josh can you tell me what you're most proud of in your career thus far.
JB: The national championship, definitely, without a doubt. (Looks up at 2004 Nat'l Championship banner) To be able to say that you had a part of a banner up there I mean it's an incredible feeling.
KC: How about personally? How about your own game? We knew there was a lot of talent from the get-go but you've improved and come a long way.
JB: That's probably the main thing just the over all improvement that I've made. I have to credit a lot of that to my coaches and my teammates who have made me better throughout my career.