VUSports: You were sort of a jack-of-all-trades coming off the bench last season and did some of everything. What is Coach Wright saying he wants to see you do more of this season?
Mikal Bridges : Basically the same thing but, being young, trying to be a better leader for all these guys and keep doing what I was doing. Keep playing hard and trying to be a leader at a young age.
VUSports: Jay Wright likes players to be interchangeable in position - do you expect the 2, 3, and 4 are all likely spots at which you will get playing time this season?
Mikal Bridges: We have a lot of guys that can play any position. You got Phil - who is a 1 playing a 2. Kris can play any position, Josh, Eric - everybody can play a lot of different positions so that is real helpful for our team. It is the same with me just being able to play any position and just go out there and play as hard as I can.
VUSports: Coming out of high school, you were known as a player who could hit the three-ball and liked to play on the perimeter. It was surprising to a lot of ‘Nova fans how well you took the ball to the basket - perhaps at the expense of the consistency of your jumper. How do you feel about your shooting going into this season?
Mikal Bridges: This summer and fall I have been shooting a lot and I feel like I am getting confidence in that like how I was back in high school. Not having shot it as much as I would have wanted to last year got me to be more comfortable as a pretty good driver. If I could make a couple more shots then I could add both of those together.
VUSports: What is it that you most enjoy doing on the defensive end of the court?
Mikal Bridges: I like to pressure guys full court, try to turn them, turn the ball over - get our team going. That is what I love the most.
VUSports: You were involved in a number of iconic plays during the championship run last season - the game-tying dunk in the pass from Arcidiacono in the second half of the Championship game, diving on the ball in the closing seconds of the game against Kansas, finishing off the dunk off that length of the court pass from Jenkins against Oklahoma … do any of those, or some other, stand out to you as a favorite play?
Mikal Bridges: I think maybe Kansas was - diving on the floor ... because that is what we love to do. Just defending and being that guy that is just everywhere ... so that is probably one of my favorite moments right there.
VUSports: Were you surprised when that ball popped loose?
Mikal Bridges: That was, with the defense we were in, Arch just being aggressive and doing what he does. He hit the ball, I saw it and I just dove on it. My mind told me to just go dive on that ball.
VUSports: … and then take a peek at how much time was left …
Mikal Bridges: yeah, i just didn’t know how much time was left - but everything worked out!
VUSports: For fans that haven’t seen you play - please describe the strengths of your game, the way you play …
Eric Paschall : I just bring aggression. I play very aggressive out there on offense and defense. This year, I am trying to take the role of playing defense and rebounding. Usually I am known as a scorer but this year, if I have to play defense and rebound to stay in the game, I will do it.
VUSports: Positionally, do you expect Coach Wright will play you at the 5 some times?
Eric Paschall: Yes. I believe he will have me at the 5. We will go small ball and be more versatile. We will be able to out-rebound guys still even with me at the 5 so I feel that will be very useful during the year.
VUSports: Has he changed some of what he is doing with the 5 offensively to account for playing smaller?
Eric Paschall: A little bit. Yeah. Most of the time he has me rolling but he has a few sets so it will be alright.
VUSports: After seeing some of Mikal Bridges dance moves in those “Running Man” videos - is there any chance of beating him in the Hoops Mania dance contest if there is one this year?
Eric Paschall: If there is one. [laughing] I was in those videos too so I could beat him!
VUSports: If it was up to you, what artist would you like to see perform at Hoop Mania on Friday night?
Eric Paschall: I have a few. I like Chance the Rapper - that would be a great artist for us.
VUSports: How about you. Mikal?
Mikal Bridges: Anybody. I don’t really care.
VUSports: You are just looking to get the season started?!
Mikal Bridges: Yeah!