Q&A - Raphael Chillious

Dawgman.com caught up with UW Assistant Basketball Coach Raphael Chillious during their media day Wednesday, and he sat down with us to talk about year two in the UW system under Lorenzo Romar, how he's been able to help the Huskies' recruiting effort, and what UW fans should expect from the new breed of Huskies, including Aziz N'Diaye, Terrence Ross and Desmond Simmons.

On feeling home in year two - "Very much so. I definitely know what to expect, and I think the guys know what to expect from me. And I definitely know what to expect from coach (Romar), so it feels like home."

On the biggest difference between year one and year two - "It's not that you ever question anything that you do, but you have a real solid understanding that people know where you're coming from when you talk to them. I'm cool with the guys off the court, but once we get on the court I get on them pretty hard. From that standpoint, they know what to expect. For me, I know that if a situation occurs, I know how coach wants us to respond as a staff, so it's easy for me to jump right in instead of sort of laying back and see what coach is going to do."

On the team reaping some of the benefits of his recruiting prowess - "I think so. Coach gave me a blueprint of the type of players he wants to bring in…given the whole staff that…and we're out looking to get those type of guys; long, athletic, quick, bouncy guys. Obviously getting Aziz (N'Diaye), Terrence Ross and Desmond (Simmons), and with CJ Wilcox redshirting… but those three especially in this class…they are long, athletic guys that are starting to fit the bill of what we want. We want to go out there and not just be a team where people say wow, that's a big team, but wow, our little guards can't keep up with their big guys. That's how we want to play."

On Aziz being a leader - "I've known Aziz longer than anybody in this program. I knew Aziz when he was in high school, when he was still in Senegal. From the first time I ever saw Aziz, he's been that guy. He's never been one to shy away from stepping up and taking a leadership role. He expects so much from everybody because he expects so much from himself. Coach (Romar) and I were recruiting him, and we saw him in a pickup game. He was just getting back from his knee injury. Well, he goes berserk on a guy because he didn't get on the floor for a loose ball. In the spring. In a pickup game. So everything means something to him. And he's an older guy, coming in from a JUCO, so he's not boisterous. He's very humble. But when it's time to say something, he'll say it. He has no qualms about it. And he's an enforcer."

On guys like Aziz fitting the recruiting blueprint - "In recruiting, as I like to call it - you have people in the bull pen. So in the right circumstances, the right situations, something happens. That situation happened with Chuck (Charles Garcia), and we had a scholarship available that we wouldn't have had otherwise. I definitely had Aziz on my radar, and several other players, but definitely seemed to me like he'd fit in perfectly with what we like to do. And also make us a little taller (smiles)."

On UW never really seeing a player like Aziz in the Romar era - "That's what I'm hearing. I was old enough to remember when Todd MacCulloch played here and saw UW play a lot, and then Spencer (Hawes) and Joe Wolfinger…he's just a different dynamic for a 7-footer. And for most programs, not just this program. If you go around the country and look at guys that have 7-footers, either he's big and strong, but not that quick or not that athletic, or he's skinny and athletic, but not very strong. He just happened to be a good combination of both. That being said, I hope that people don't put tremendous expectations on him offensively, because that part of his game is just starting to come around. But what he allows us to do is he can play behind people. A, he's 7-1 in shoes and he's so long, and B, he's so strong he can keep guys off the block. And we're gonna face some teams that have guys like the big guy (Deniz Kilicli) from Turkey last year when we played West Virginia. He's so big and is as good and long and a shot-blocker, and for Matthew (Bryan-Amaning) he's a little bit too strong, a little bit too big. So Aziz definitely brings a dimension that we didn't have. And what he allows us to do with our pressure defense is that we can really extend it out there because he's protecting the rim."

On looking back to see what Aziz could have done against teams like West Virginia - "If you look at the dynamic of what we have on this team right now, not just with Aziz, but with Terrence Ross and Desmond - these long guys. If we roll out there with a team that looks like West Virginia, but with our speed and athleticism, things may have turned out differently. Because we might have been able to compete with them on the boards."

On the Terrence Ross/Terrence Jones situation and what Ross brings to the table - "He's pretty good. The Terrence Ross situation…what people don't realize was that when him and Terrence Jones were in the 9th and 10th grade, he was the one telling Terrence Jones and everybody that they were going to Washington. That's where we are going to go for school. He was saying that back then. Then he went away and was on the east coast and committed to Maryland. He was on our radar as a player we had recruited before. And then when he became available and he decommitted from Maryland, obviously we have some pretty good contacts back there and he indicated that he wanted to look at us again. So even though it happened at the same time and they are really good friends, it was really two separate things. We were looking at it as yes! It would be a monster situation if we got both, but if you end up with either one of them, you'd be getting a good player. And we think that Terrence Ross, once he figures it out, is going to be a really special player in this program."

On Ross' upside - "The first and foremost thing - he wants to be a Husky. From the time when him and his Mom and his sister visited here, when they were leaving - even before he told us he was coming here - they go to the team shop and walk out with all this U-Dub stuff, because they are Huskies. You saw the announcement last year - everyone in his whole family was head to toe in U-Dub stuff. That's the first and the foremost thing - they want to be Huskies. The other thing is that, as much as people tell him how good he is or how good he can be, he's really humble about it. And when someone says that to him, it just makes him work harder. And the other thing that we, as a coaching staff can't give him, is that he's got talent - he has real talent. And I don't think a lot of programs in the country have a freshman walk through the door with the kind of talent he has. And to be able to shoot it on top of all the God-given physical gifts he has, is definitely a bonus for him."

On the players he's expecting to emerge - "With Scott (Suggs) for sure, he had a great summer. This is one of the summers where he was around here a lot, and he played with the guys and worked out with the guys a lot. He had a good summer league. He played on Isaiah's team in summer league. And Isaiah, with his maturation process, he has really taken it upon himself to understand that he can go out and score 40 any time I want, but I want to get guys off and help guys develop their game and get better. So I think playing with Isaiah this summer gave him a lot of confidence because Isaiah would defer to him a lot of times and say Scott - go get it! That's going to help Scott blossom. And the other thing…you never want to see a guy transfer, but with Elston (Turner) leaving that gives him a little room in the spring, for sure, to help him blossom. Now he's a junior and he's one of the older guys in the backcourt. He's taken it upon himself to be better and to be a leader. And that's going to allow him to emerge, we think. You never know until he plays.

"And with C.J. (Wilcox), he sat out last year. His shot makes room for him. There's an old saying in basketball - being able to shoot the basketball comes a multitude of sins. His shot makes room for him, and on top of that, CJ is a very good athlete. He's fast, quick, he can defend. He's a long 6-5. Just the way we play is going to make room for these guys, but the biggest deal is putting some sweat equity into getting better.

"The No. 1 guy I think who is going to emerge is Abdul (Gaddy). It's like when you watch a baby go from being on the floor, to crawling, to standing up and then running. With him being 17 last year, physically he just wasn't there. But you see him this spring and summer, he trims down a bit and is much quicker. All of a sudden we're doing the individual workouts and he touches the middle of the backboard. He couldn't do that last year. So physically he just developed. That's helping his confidence. He's making shots. It remains to be seen how he plays in games, but I think he's going to be a guy that emerges this year. As coach said, he understands what we're doing. People talk about his minutes last year; he wasn't able to be on the court because he was in foul trouble. He wasn't necessarily in foul trouble because the guy had the ball and got fouls; he was fouling them off the ball sometimes because he got caught behind screens, wasn't in the right position. And now one of the first things you see when we're doing drills is that he's everywhere he's supposed to be. He's the one setting it up and telling everyone else where they are supposed to be. So this year, I think he'll play without thinking too much, and I think that'll help him."

On if there was any homesickness issues with Scott Suggs - "I know he's very close to his family, and when your family is very far away from home, that's tough. Those people aren't here for you to lean on every day. I think he's really realized that he's in his third year of college, he's a grown man now. My parents look at me like a grown man. The coaching staff looks at him like a grown man, so I'm going to take everything upon myself to be more mature and be a grown man in my decision-making. When I play basketball, there's nothing to be afraid of. I think a lot of times you look at a player…Scott wasn't afraid of the competition, I think he was afraid to make a mistake. Now as a junior, you get a little more rope to make mistakes, and I think him knowing that is going to help him. If he's not making some shots early, he's still a good defender. He can still defend, he can get out, he can still make plays, he can rebound the ball and contribute in other ways. Now I think he's more equipped to be able to handle situations - like I didn't make some shots in practice, but I still know I'm going to play. That's one of the things that's going to help him."

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