BR: The hamstring is good. I was able to go through practice yesterday, and ready to play for tomorrow night, so good to be back.
Do you kind of feel body snake bit?
BR: A little bit. I feel like I've had enough injuries to last me a lifetime. I'm not focusing on the ones I've had previously. I'm just handling what's in front of me right now, and I'm good to go.
How much do you feel this year will be more just playing, instead of rehabbing and training?
BR: Now I'm just worried about being on the court, as opposed to spending countless hours in the training room. I've had a really good offseason. I spent a lot of time working out, and I feel very comfortable with where I'm at physically. I'm looking forward to getting out in front of the fans on Friday night.
What were you doing those two weeks when you were rehabbing the hamstring? Did you do any cardio or anything to make sure you didn't lose your stride there?
BR: We didn't do much cardio the first few days after. We just kind of let it rest and iced. I've been working with David Fluker. I train every single day just massaging out that area a little bit and hope it loosens up, stretching it a little bit, but a lot of that with a pulled hamstring is just taking your time and resting.
With a completely new starting five, is there a whole different feel around here?
BR: I mean the change in personalities… it seems like during the summer it was something changing every week, but now we're settled in. It's just about playing basketball, getting to know the guys you're playing alongside of and this group really works hard and is willing to learn and listen to Coach Mack and what the other coaches have to say every day. At the end of the day no matter who you're playing with it's basketball. You just focus on what you can do positive for your team.
Have the young guys adapted to the Xavier way of doing things, or has it taken them a while to adapt?
BR: The young guys, Semaj and James, are moving along quickly, especially Semaj is really catching on to what we're trying to do on the offensive and defensive ends, and we'll probably ask a lot out of him early on. He's a guy you don't have to tell five different times to do something a certain way. You can pretty much say it to him and he's able to adapt to the game very quickly.
Do you feel more comfortable in this offense as opposed to the ball-screen motion offense of last year?
BR: I feel good in this offense. I'm probably a little bit more comfortable in this than I was the ball-screen motion. This offense is more predicated on setting screens off the ball and it also allows me to set screens for our players to get them open and then if they help out on the screen, because hopefully I can catch there man, then I'll be able to step out and get an open shot because my guy is helping. It's not even just me coming off screens, it's can I set a good screen for one of my teammates to free him up so then my man has to help and I can get an open shot.
How much this year does Xavier need good seniors, after everything you've gone through?
BR: It's important for me, Travis and Jeff to be excited and ready to play every single day, listen to what the coaches have been telling us and do what they say, and hold the other guys accountable as well. We've been here the longest. We need to kind of show the guys how we practice. It's going to be interesting to see how this team handles adversity. We're guys that have to have a next play mentality and be ready to go, even when we're not playing as well. It's a 40-minute game. It's a long game. You're going to have ups and downs, times when the ball is not going in and you can't seem to get any stops, and our three seniors have to be able to come together and get the guys on the same page.
Did you guys answer some questions for yourself with the Kentucky State game and the West Virginia scrimmage?
BR: We're still finding out how we can play with each other and where all our scoring is going to come from, but we've been tested. We've gone through the scrimmage (against WVU) and played against Kentucky State, so we've had that in-game experience. We're confident with where we're at. We feel very good about how we've been able to practice and we're really looking forward to showing people what we've been working on all offseason.
You've had your doubters about whether this program can weather the storm, what's the reaction in the locker room to all that?
BR: It's not something we're concerned about, maybe a motivation factor for some, but we're just concerned about who we have. We're just here every day working hard. That's not something that's brought up in the middle of the game or in the middle of a practice. Once you start playing, you're just playing basketball. You're not concerned about proving anyone wrong in the stands or anybody watching the game on TV. Once you're in the game, you forget about all that anyway.
That being said, you guys have been picked to finish 9th in the A-10. That doesn't happen at Xavier. Do you use it at all?
BR: It definitely crosses your mind. This is my fifth year at Xavier - fourth year playing - and we've never finished anywhere close to ninth in the conference. That's not an expectation here to finish in the bottom half of the Atlantic-10. We're not working hard and doing everything that we can to finish ninth or tenth in the league. We want to be up there with everybody else when the season's over with, but that's not something that we talk about now. There's nothing that we can control. There's no games that we've played at this point. It's really just a matter of getting better every single day and then that will take care of itself at the end of the year.
BR: I remember him a little bit. I know he had a good game against us. I believe it was at Duquesne when they beat us my freshman year. He was a freshman that year as well, if I remember correctly. He's a good player. He's got good size, athletic, handles the ball pretty well - he's going to be a good test for us.
The Knights come in pretty depleted because of various disciplinary reasons, but their backcourt looks to be one of their strengths, so how do you approach that?
BR: Their backcourt likes to get out in transition and shoot threes, so that's something that we'll have to take care of and make sure that we're getting back on offensive rebounds and stop them to make them play in the halfcourt. We've talked about them and talked about their personnel, but at the same time it's really about us and what we're doing out there.
Was there point last year where you lost confidence in your shot?
BR: I went through some slumps last year that I've really never experienced as a player, so yeah, sure, my confidence was hit a little bit as I was going through that just because I've never experienced a shooting slump of that nature. I don't know if it was because I was doing so much in rehab and in practice - It seemed like I was here every day and it was kind of just wearing on me a little bit, but I've taken so many shots over the summer and over my whole career; I've got to worry about the next shot if I miss two or three in a row, and it happens. Even good shooters miss five, six, seven in a row. You watch Kobe (Bryant) play, he'll miss 10 in a row and then all of a sudden he'll knock down 12 straight, so it's a matter of having a short memory, forgetting the last shot you missed or maybe didn't feel quite right and just focus on all the shots you've taken in practice and have confidence. Last year maybe my confidence was lacking a little bit when I was going through that, but I don't feel that anymore. I'm very confident with where I'm at.