VUSports: One of the things you said when you came to ‘Nova was that you wanted to win a Championship … what now, you done?
Jalen Brunson: [laughing] No, definitely we are not done but we got that under our belt. Most importantly, this season will we focus on getting better every day like we did last year. We didn’t say at that end of each practice that we wanted to win a National Championship - we just kept saying that we wanted to improve our habits and get better and make sure we come in with a clear mind and ready to work.
VUSports: The impressive thing about what you did last year, personally, was fit in with everyone. You took what you could get, didn't force things but weren’t afraid to take the big shot - such as the corner three-ball you hit in the first part of the 2nd half of the Championship game. How were you able to keep that confidence in your shot to take the big shot even though you weren’t getting a large volume of shots in the flow of many of the games?
Jalen Brunson: Most importantly, I know that I have to keep my confidence no matter what, that involves staying at practice a little longer, getting extra shots up, talking to teammates and saying “I will be open and whenever you hit me I will be ready to shoot” because always being ready to take the shot helps. It is a credit to my teammates and coaches and my family that they always have confidence in me. They have so much confidence in me that I actually have the same confidence in myself.
VUSports: Does it feel weird without Ryan Arcidiacono at practice?
Jalen Brunson: It felt weird but it is starting to come all together. We decided this is our new team now and we can’t go back. All those memories we had are great but now we have to move forward.
VUSports: Do you expect that you and Phil Booth will play the majority of the minutes together in the backcourt, split the minutes at the 1, …
Jalen Brunson: I expect that coach is going to do what he thinks is right for the team. As of right now, me and Phil are working pretty hard going against each other in practice everyday. If we keep pushing each other hard every day then everything will fall into place.
VUSports: How do you feel about your individual defense going into this season. Last year you may not have gotten as many minutes towards the end of games that you may have gotten if Coach wasn’t looking to add more defense, rebounding, or size to the line-up …
Jalen Brunson: I think my defense is getting better. It is a process. It is not really a finished product - nothing is a finished product. My defense is getting there and it is something I have to come into practice everyday and focusing on my defense and getting better at it.
VUSports: How is the offense starting to mesh together now that you have begun to adjust to Omari Spellman not being eligible to play and had to perhaps put a different focus on what you need to do as a team offensively?
Jalen Brunson: I think our team and what we are off the court, chemistry-wise is why we can be so good on the court. We trust each other. We are always with each other and talking to each other. Our trust in each other is really going to help us in the long run.
VUSports: There is a perception that Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart, and Phil Booth are more low key, jovial guys that lead by setting the example and performing well while Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono were viewed as being more serious, let’s get down to business type leaders. Are you more of the serious type and in some respect will help keep the Seniors and Junior in focus?
Jalen Brunson: I think I am kind of more serious now. I am getting older, getting more mature and understanding what needs to get done, understanding that when we come in here it is not really time to joke around. We come in here to get better. I think it is our mindset. With Josh and Kris and Darryl [Reynolds] as Senior captains they are doing a great job and doing a better job of making sure we are coming to practice and coming to practice every day with the right mindset and trying to get better.
VUSports: Could you give your thoughts on what Eric Paschall and Dylan Painter bring to the table since they are two new guys you will be working into the mix - especially offensively …
Jalen Brunson: Eric is an incredible athlete. He has so many tools to his game. He can do so many things. He can do so many things defensively with his athleticism. He can go up and block shots and get rebounds in crowds. I think Eric is really going to be someone that brings a dynamic presence when he comes into the game. I think it is still a learning process with Dylan but Dylan is doing a great job. He is coming to practice focused. He is not afraid to make mistakes - which is a really good thing because when you make mistakes you can learn from them. He picks up things really quickly. We are doing good as a team and with those two guys getting put in and getting ready for the year - they are doing a great job and coming prepared.