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When did you start practicing?
We started Tuesday, the first day of class.
What have you guys been working on?
Just a bunch of basic fundamental stuff, just to get the freshmen involved and to know what they need to do. The whole practice is pretty much conditioning for us.
How’s the team’s conditioning right now?
Of course we’re not where we want to be, but these practices will help us get where we need to be as far as conditioning and getting back on the court, running at the pace we’d like to run.
What did you do this summer to get ready for the season?
Just working on the things coach and I went over – shooting more, working on my defense, conditioning and working hard all around.
What is going to surprise people about this team?
A lot of people are not looking at what we had last year, but they are just looking at what we lost. We had guys last year who could come off the bench and now the freshmen come in, so a lot of people are going to be surprised what we can do this year.
Mike Copeland went to your high school – what have you seen from him?
I haven’t really had a chance to see him play a lot, but from what I have seen, he’s a great rebounder and he gives good hustle. He plays hard, so you can ask too much more from that.
I think this year it’ll be a lot easier because I have a year under my belt. I know for a fact that I’ll do a lot better.
What didn’t we see from you last year that you’ll be freer to do this year?
I can’t say freer. I felt I had freedom last year, but it was just the transition. It wasn’t like I was trying to make plays – I wasn’t trying to make any plays. I was just trying to do my job, set up the offense, set up the defensive call.
Do you think you’ll score more this year?
Honestly, in my nature I’ve always been a pass-first, pass-second guy, but I know this year I’ll have to score because we don’t have as many scorers. But at the same time, the good thing is that nobody really knows much about any of the players on this team and we have a lot of talent on this team. … I think that’s the scary thing about playing a team when you don’t really know what they have and what to expect.
Will it be easier not coming off the bench for just short stints, since you’ll probably start?
I don’t know about the starting position, I don’t worry about that. But as far as coming into this year, it’s a lot easier because I know the offense, defense and what the coaches expect from me – as well as what I expect from myself.
What do you hope to get out of this trip to the Bahamas?
I think this trip will really help us with our chemistry - we have a chance to play with one another and understand each other on the court and off the court.
What type of non-basketball stuff do you have planned?
We’re going to do a little sightseeing while we’re out there in our free time.
What did you work on the most this summer?
Strength. I came in freshman year at 175 and when I came back here [after the summer] I was between 193 and 195.
You’ve had some anxious moments this week with the hurricane …
Yeah, worried about my family [in Gulport, Miss.]. I talked to them after the hurricane on Monday and they said they were ok, and just had some damage to the house – had a hole in the roof that’s leaking, some water damage. … They’re fine, though – the family is fine.
Has it been hard to focus on basketball and the upcoming trip?
Actually, basketball helped me put it off mind, so it helps a lot.
With the loss of seven players, how’s your role going to change this year?
I’ll have a big role. Going to have to pick up my game and play – rebound, defend – do what I have to do to win.
What are you guys hoping to get out of this trip, besides the sun?
Just see what we’ve got, get to know each other, relax and have fun.