Przybyszewski: Final Four is Vandy's goal

As a junior, Dawid Przybyszewski blossomed as a shooter and earned a spot in the starting lineup; now as a senior, he looks to shoulder even more of the scoring load. The 7-foot-2 native of Torun, Poland talks about the team's preparations and hopes for the upcoming season.

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Ed. note: We caught up with senior men's basketball star Dawid Przybyszewski Saturday between halves of Vanderbilt's football game with Mississippi State.

VandyMania: Dawid, what are your thoughts on the football game so far?

Dawid: I'm very excited. We're playing well right now. We're leading 24 to 7, and I'm looking forward to a great night tonight.

VandyMania: Have you become a fan of American football since you've been here?

Dawid: Gradually, I think, I get to know American football better. I kind of like it right now, although still I prefer soccer over football.

VandyMania: So you would actually rather watch a 0-to-0 soccer match than an American football game?

Dawid: (laughs) I would think so still, yes. That would be my pick.

VandyMania: Let's talk about the basketball team. The team is not allowed to do much together this time of year, but I know you players are still busy getting ready for the season. Tell us what you guys are working on right now.

Dawid: Well, we have individual workouts that are in small groups. We still lift four times a week, and we have conditioning two times a week, or three. So we're busy working out as much as we can. We're trying to get ready as much as we can until October, when we can practice.

VandyMania: You guys can pretty much go over to the gym and play on your own as much as you want to. Is that correct?

Dawid: Yes. We have a schedule where we can just pretty much pick up and play by ourselves. And everyone can go by themselves and do some extra shooting and stuff. So we're getting better.

VandyMania: You're finally a senior now. Has it all gone by really fast for you?

Dawid: Totally. I feel like those three years I've been here have gone by very fast, very quick. I can't imagine that I'm now a senior. I remember everything since I'm here. College goes fast. I can't wait.

VandyMania: Now that you're a senior, you have the added burden of leadership for some of the younger players. Is that something that you welcome and that feels good to you? And what kinds of things are you concentrating on as a senior leader?

Dawid: Well, I know I have to be more of a leader than I was before. All three of us seniors, me, Jason [Holwerda] and Corey [Smith], we need to be some kind of teachers to the freshmen, because we have five new freshmen and one newcomer too. We have six new people in the program that we have to lead by example and show them the ropes.

VandyMania: Of those freshmen, which of them, if any, look like they will be post players for you this year?

Dawid: Well, Davis Nwankwo is a very good player. He's going to be one of our post men. So we are going to have some depth over there too. We have some great players. Every freshman is playing well. We will be very excited to see them in action when the season comes.

VandyMania: Alan Metcalfe... what position do you see him being used at this season?

Dawid: I think he'll be used at the 4 position. He's more of a 4-man than a 5-man. He has this European outside game as well as I have, I think. So I think he'll be playing similar to me.

VandyMania: Do you feel like you could groom him to be the next Przybyszewski on the team?

Dawid: (laughs) Well, I'll try as much as I can to help him out! He's doing better now with the transition from European basketball to American basketball. It's all kind of new for him. But he's getting better, and he's a good shooter, so I'm very excited for him.

VandyMania: You really came into your own as an outside shooter last year. Do you expect to step into more of a scoring role now that Matt Freije is no longer with the team?

Dawid: Well, we have a lot of great players on our team. I'm not concerned about scoring. Everyone can produce on our team. The upperclassmen are great. What I need to improve on is my physicality and play inside. Improving my rebounding is my personal goal, as well as shooting as well as I did last year.

VandyMania: Is that what Coach Stallings asked you to work on at the end of last year?

Dawid: Yes. I need to improve my rebounding. As a strong guy, I gained a little bit more weight and got stronger, which helps a lot when you're a big man. I mainly need to improve my rebounding, and I'll be fine.

VandyMania: Will you graduate this year? And what will your degree be in?

Dawid: Yes, I will graduate, and my degree will be in the German language.

VandyMania: Last year the team made a big improvement in the season record and went to the Sweet 16. What will the team's goal be for this year?

Dawid: This team's goal is to go to the Final Four, I can tell you that. We're going to work hard for it. We have a lot to build on, and we will do everything we can to achieve it.

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Photos by Brent Wiseman and Bryan Hufalar, copyright 2004 for VandyMania.com.


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