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Oct. 17, 2013
Q: Tim, teeing off the year after being on the sideline next to coach, how did that help you intellectually? What did you gain from that experience?
A: “I gained a tremendous amount of different things as far as basketball goes. Actually, sitting out for a year helped me become stronger and better as a man from that standpoint of going through adversity and being able to fight through that. I felt like I was able to still be a part of the team. It grew me as a man to kind of leave the past and say everything happens for a reason and move on from there. As far as a basketball standpoint, I was in the office every day. I was a coach for a year. Not a lot of players can say ‘I was a coach for a year and now I’m able to come back and play again.’ I think that’s going to benefit me as far as being in [coach Chambers’] ear all the time, being that middle man in between coaches and players. I was that middle guy. Coach [Chambers] gave me a lot of rope to run certain things as a coach and as a player, so I hope I benefitted and I think I did.”
Q: Are there specific things on the court that you saw that you didn’t see while you were playing?
A: “Yes, especially as far as ball screens. Reading and seeing ball screens was huge for me. You see them on film but then you see them in real life interactions especially with D.J. [Newbill] going off ball screens. I was able to see a lot of stuff by slowing down. A lot of things will help me as far as ball screens: it’s about the guys around you, knowing where guys are going to be and knowing the rotations that the defense is going to make. Coach and I spent tons of hours going over that as far as just recognizing some of the things that they see that will make D.J. [Newbill] a better player and will make me a better player in the future.
Q: Coach Chambers says that you guys are going to be allowed to do some more running this year. Are you looking forward to that?
A: “Oh, definitely. I’m not a big, stocky guy and speed is one of my best assets, so any time I’m able to use that is going to make me feel that much better. I think it helps us a lot as a team, as well. We’re fast guys, especially those young freshmen; everybody gets up and down the court. I think that’s going to benefit us a lot to be able to get up and down the court when it’s needed.”
Q: When did you hear about the anti-hand checking initiative, from whom, and what was your reaction?
A: “From Coach [Chambers], he mentioned it to me saying ‘they’re going to start calling it tight. I said it’s good and bad for me. I’ll get to the foul line a lot more now, but at the same time I’m an eager guy and I like to go for the steal; so that definitely will make me be disciplined not to reach and not to put my hands on guys and not force them certain ways. It’s good and bad but I think it’s going to help the NCAA a lot.
"I think it will benefit the guys going to the next level because that’s how they call it as far as hand checks. It’s going to make you play solid defense, which is going to benefit you and your team. For a lot of guys there will be less blow-by’s in the game because people will focus on trying to guard their man without fouling. It will make the guards really pay attention to keeping their hands off."
Q: What about the fans?
A: “I think it will be good for fans as well. I think it will keep the game moving a lot, but at the same time if it comes to certain situations where fouls are going to be called a lot then it can slow down the game. I think it’s just going to be a testament to what team you play, what their coaching style is and how they’re going to go about certain situations. We’ve been working on drills where we do defensive slides holding towels to keep our hands up away from guys so we don’t stick our hands in if people get by us. We use that already preparing to limit our fouls because we don’t want to foul."
Q: How much hand checking have people done against you in the past? Being a quicker guy, I’m sure you’ve probably gotten it as much as anybody.
A: “Yeah, every night, but I do it as well. Being that quicker guy I was able to get a couple hand checks in here and there. I’m looking forward to it. I’m expecting to get a lot of calls. When I go on the road maybe I’ll get a little more hand checks here and there, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Q: Tim, are you working more off the ball because D.J. has that experience at the 1? Or are you primarily back at the 1 right now?
A: “We switch it up a lot; not just for D.J. but also to give the freshman guys a chance. We’ve seen Graham [Woodward] at the point one time with Graham, D.J. and myself at the same time. Graham runs the point and we’re both off the ball. It all just depends on what the day is and what we need as a team. I’m willing to do whatever coach needs me to do. I know any of these guys would be the five-man for a couple series if we need it.”
Q: How are you guys balancing out both being ball handlers and scorers at the same time, getting points for each other while taking care of yourself?
A: “If we get rebounds, whoever is closest to the ball gets it and the next guy just takes off and we try to get up the floor as fast as possible. When it comes down to sets, it’s basically whatever the play is. Certain plays are set for certain guys and we switch off. It’s basically whoever is closest to the ball. Ross [Travis] is working on bringing the ball up the court as well.”
Q: Coach [Chambers] said the offense is the sharpest he’s seen since he’s been here. How have you guys seen that and how much do you think that has to do with the European trip and the practices you got from that?
A: “I think it definitely has to do with the European trip. We have a great group of freshmen that I’m very proud of; they’ve come a long way and I think that’s benefitting us the most. They come in eager and ready to listen as much as possible. Being able to practice for those 10 days before Europe was great for us. When you bring in that new rule that allows us to practice earlier, we’re far along with plays and schemes. If you think about last year, we would’ve started practices maybe last week. We’re far ahead of a lot of things as far as concepts go.
Q: You guys all kind of out-rebound your height. Is that something you take pride in as a team that doesn’t really have a traditional five?
A: “I think so. We spend countless hours working on rebounding. We spend time in practice every day just focusing on rebounding. I think that’s what makes Ross [Travis] such a great rebounder because he bought in to that. It’s not just him; a lot of guys are boxing out for him. I think we really focused on making sure we gang-rebound as a group. All five guys on the floor need to do something to get their man out of the paint so guys who can fly, like Ross, can go get the rebound.
Q: Of the teams you played on the European tour, did any of them remind you of playing teams in the Big Ten?
A: “One of the teams, I’m not sure of the name, they reminded me of Michigan because they had the guard that could just get in the paint with one guy that rebounded while everybody else was just shooters. They loved the corner shot, which reminded me of [Nik] Stauskas.”
Q: D.J., coach said you went 30 days without shooting outside the paint. What was that like? Did that take time to get used to? Do you feel that helped you?
A: “At first it was frustrating because we would play pickup and I couldn’t shoot any jump shots. But in the long run it helped me out. My shot felt a lot better. I feel like I’m shooting at a high percentage right now, so I think it was good for me overall.”
Q: Why did it feel better? How did it help?
A: “We just broke down my mechanics. Me firing through my guy, keeping my eyes on the rim, staying balanced when I’m shooting. When you’re just staying under the rim doing set shots, it became like repetition for me doing it over and over again. Now I’ve incorporated it into my regular shot.”
Q: After those 30 days did you just slowly move out? Or did you go right to the 3-point line?
A: I slowly worked my way out.
Q: D.J., last year you were going through the ups and downs of running the point. You said that it would help you immensely. Now that you’re back into your natural position, where do you see that process paying off?
A: “It’s like we’ll have two floor generals on the court in Tim [Frazier] and I. It helped me be a better leader. I’ve been able to see every guy’s rotation, and I think that helps our offense. I became more vocal last year. I think overall I think it just helped my growth handling the ball, working on individual moves and being a great leader.”
Q: Of the teams you played on the European tour, did any of them remind you of playing teams in the Big Ten?
A: “D.J. Newbill: Some of the teams were just physical. The Big Ten is physical. I’m not sure of the name of the second team we played but they had some good big guys. The Big Ten always has good big guys and, like Tim said, they have some great guards over there. “
Q: Ross, this is your first time up there with these guys. You’re one of the guys people are paying real attention to on this team. How does it feel knowing you’re going to be under the spotlight?
A: “It feels great. I’ve tried to step up my leadership in practice and coach [Chambers] has finally put the trust in me to be up here with these two guys [Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill] and I’ve learned a lot from them over the last two years with their leadership.”
Q: Ross, you were more or less a double-double at the end of the year. How much of that can you bring into starting off this year strong, given how you performed at the end of last year?
A: “I definitely stepped it up a lot at the end of last year. I’m looking to bring that into the beginning of this year and continuing that throughout the year. You mentioned the double-double, that’s definitely a goal of mine. I’m trying to help the team out in that aspect as much as possible.”
Q: Who can help you out? We know what you can do as a physical player. The rest of the guys are question marks. Is there anyone who can help you out on the floor?
A: “Yeah, all these guys. Coach has a philosophy of taking your man and going and getting the ball and running in the paint. I think all these guys are capable of rebounding. I think a lot of talk has been that we’re not going to be that great of a rebounding team, but I have confidence that our team will get that done.”
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