Oct. 19, 2009
Q: How does your role on this team change with Janelle and Stanley gone?
A: It probably changes the most in being a leader. Now that Jamelle is gone, all the guys are looking to me. So, now it's my job to try to stay as positive as much as I can. That's been the toughest adjustment. It's a work in progress and I'm getting better each and every day at it.
Q: What does Tim Frazier bring to this team and the backcourt?
A: Tim is exciting. He is super athletic and really quick. In some ways, it will be similar to playing with Stan. He doesn't shoot as well as Stanley right now, but as far as getting out in transition and trying to get easy baskets and someone running with me, he'll be right there and he's capable of doing that.
Q: Can you talk about your experience about Team U.S.A. this summer and what you got out of it?
A: Well ,obviously playing with those 11 guys, more than half of them sure to be first round draft picks in this year's upcoming draft, made it so much easier and showed me how hard I had to work. It was just a great opportunity. I played with so much talent. I learned a lot with playing under a new coach and other coaches. It was different. Obviously, playing overseas games against older and stronger guys was definitely an adjustment. I learned so much, so when I came back in the summer time, I was able to share with the guys the experience and what it takes to get to the next level. That was a blessing for me to have the opportunity to play there.
Q: With the success last year, how important is it to have a second consecutive good year to build a strong foundation here?
Q: What do you think the role of the freshmen will be during the season?
A: It's very important. I think it's big. I think we need to have another successful season so it's not one of those one-hit wonder things and the program really is on the rise. We've had a great off-season and we really think we have a chance to be good. We have a lot of young guys that will have to play a larger role than maybe most freshmen have to. We're expecting a lot out of those guys, and I think that will lead a lot to our success.
A: They are doing great. Tim is a very smart player and he really understands the game. You can tell that he came from a high school where he has been taught really well. Bill Edwards
is the same way. He is a big body and he can really score the basketball. He really knows the game. The other two guys have really been moving along and competing, playing hard, and fighting for minutes. It's exciting to see what Coach is going to do during the season. I can tell you one thing though, those guys are going to play and hopefully play a significant role.
Q: How nice is it to now have your family in town as opposed to up in Albany?
A: It's cool. I sneak over there whenever I can for dinner. Saturday at the scrimmage, I was just able to sit and talk to my mom and my sisters. That is something that just didn't happen in Albany, just coming down for a scrimmage. That's a blessing. I'm grateful that they were able to make that move and transition. It has made things a lot easier on me.
Q: What can you take as a team from playing in the postseason last year?
A: When you're facing elimination, you really can't afford to lose. The guys returning from last year definitely have something to teach the young guys. It's not easy to win. That championship was not given to us. You have to earn it. For the guys that played significant roles, they can pass it on. And even for Chris Babb and Cameron Woodyard who didn't play so much last year. I'm not sure if they are sure what it takes yet, so we want to get those guys to mature more because we are really going to need them this year. They've been doing a great job stepping up and leading and we need that class just as much as the freshmen class.
Q: How much did last year change the perceptions of the program, especially nationally?
A: I'm not sure how much it really changed. I'm not going to lie to you guys, I see the magazines where they have us finishing ninth or 10th. In their eyes, it may have been a one-hit wonder with losing Jamelle and Stanley. It's our job to keep working each and everyday and improve on whatever went wrong. This is a program that is on the rise that is trying to compete nationally.
Q; Last year you were a big force in rebounding. Can you talk about that, especially with losing Jamelle?
A: Coach preaches that so much. He says I rebound pretty well, but it's easy when guys are blocking out and I just sweep in and steal the ball. Coach is big on that and I've always rebounded, so I will continue to go to the glass. Hopefully Tim does not out jump me for the rebounds. I can't jump as high as him. As long as he continues to let me get a couple, I will continue to rebound.
Q: How are the guards on the team progressing?
A: I think again this year we're going to have some of the best point guards in the Big Ten if not the country with freshman Tim Frazier and Talor (Battle). With Talor being as good as a scorer as he is, he's also just as good of a passer. I always have to keep moving. You can't just stand and wait for something to happen. Even in open gym and practice, I'm always staying low, always ready to shoot. You've always got to keep moving and be ready to get open and make a shot.
Q: How much did the run through the NIT boost the confidence of the team?
A: It really boosted a lot of our confidence. Going into this season we lost a couple players, but we think we've got enough returning players and a couple freshmen that can fill those spots and get us back to where we need to be and keep us going.
Q: What have you done over the off season to be more effective off the dribble?
A: I've just been working a lot on my ball handling. Last year, when I got in, it was more like knock down a couple shots. This year, I'm looked upon to play a bigger role in scoring more and being on defense. I've just worked on a lot of ball handling and coming off the screens and catching and shooting.
Q: Talk about your dunking ability?
A: I think my first dunk was in eighth grade. It wasn't too big, but it was in a game in my eighth grade year. I think I was maybe like 5'11, 5'10 something like that. I haven't grown too much since then. I don't know, it's just always been something that I just love to do and it just came with the game. I've just been able to dunk. It just gets me prepared for the game. It gets me hyped, gets the fans hyped and the players hyped. So, definitely it's just something that God gave me the ability to do and I'm able to use it.
Q: What has the adjustment to the college game been like?
A: Actually, especially in practice, it hasn't been too bad. I guess I can thank my high school coaches. They were very structured just like Coach (DeChellis)'s practices. But definitely, you've just got to be up to speed, get stronger and just be able to endure what Coach (DeChellis) has for us.
Q: What do you see your role on this team as?
A: We haven't played a game yet. So far, I'm just here to do whatever Coach DeChellis and what the coaches need me to do. If that means I need to help out and take some minutes from Talor or help him out or be along side of him or just help the team in general, just do whatever possible, I'm here to do.
Q: What do you bring to the team?
A: I would have to say my strength is somebody that just works hard, is willing to listen, willing to learn and do anything possible.
Q: How do you guys plan on replacing the physicality, scoring and rebounding of Jamelle Cornley?
A: There's a big emphasis on not really trying to replace Jamelle Cornely, because he's kind of an un-replaceable player. What we're trying to do is have other players step up and kind of bring their own presence. Mel (Jamelle Cornely) was a very physical presence inside. The coaches really emphasize that we need to do well rebounding and in the paint defense as well as scoring on offense. I know the posts have been working a lot on interior scoring and rebounding so far.
Q: Has that put a lot more work on you guys down low?
A: With him gone, I would say yeah. There is an open space to fill with him gone in terms of the team. I think there are several different guys looking to fill that spot.
Q: How did the NIT run help this team?
A: I think it definitely brought the team confidence and a feeling of success. I think it also helped bring the team together in terms the family aspect and just in terms of building excitement for this year. The fans are really the sixth man, so having the fans excited about something like that is definitely good for us.
#35 Billy Oliver
RS Fr. Forward
Q: Can you talk about how you're feeling coming off your redshirt year?
A: I'm eager to get back out there. I haven't played a game in almost two years, since I was in high school. I loved being a part of last year's success, but I definitely want to get out there and see what I can do on the court too.
Q: How does last year's success motivate you to get back out on the court and contribute?
A: It's huge. It was a taste of what you want to be a part of - a championship team. Having leaders like Jamelle [Cornley] and Stanley [Pringle] and Will Leiner too, they really set the stage and gave me a glimpse of what I want to do.
Q: Have you seen Talor [Battle] step up as a leader?
A: Definitely. Vocally. Even off the court. He has to. He has some big shoes to fill with no seniors this year. But, we all look to him and he definitely demands respect throughout the team. He's doing just fine with all of that.
#22 Andrew Jones
RS Jr. Forward
Q: What is the key to get this team to the NCAA's?
A: I think the key to that next step is consistency, hard work, and just the will to win. I think we showed that a lot last year. We had a lot of games that we won when it was decided by five points or less. When it came down to crunch time, we got things done. That's a testament to our hard work and just the will to win. I think if we can instill that into our younger guys and the older guys keep that going, I think we can be a pretty good team.
Q: How are you going to limit putting pressure on yourself now that Jamelle [Cornley] is gone and you're the most experienced post player?
A: Well, I would be lying if I said there wasn't any pressure. But, its something I'm open to. It's going to show me what kind of player I am. I know what kind of person I am and what type of player I can be, so I'm just taking this opportunity and running with it.
Q: Can you talk about how Jamelle [Cornley] taught you and helped you develop as a player?
A: He helped a lot. My first year, just watching him and how he established himself in the post. He stayed low and kept his position on the block and kept a low center of gravity. I was able to carry that from my freshman year to last year when I played in some significant games.
Q: You're playing teams such as Virginia and Virginia Tech. Can you talk about the schedule a little bit?
A: This is what I want. This is what we want as a team. I want the opportunity to play against the best guys. That gives you an opportunity to show what you can do. I think we are all welcome to that in our season. We have a strong non-conference schedule and with what the Big Ten is like. So, once we get into the swing of things, get the freshmen going, and get into our practice plays, we're going to be a pretty good team.
#15 David Jackson
RS Jr. Forward
Q: You saw all these people take the bus up to Madison Square Garden last year. Does that show people are starting to take Penn State basketball more seriously?
A: It says a lot. We've worked very hard and we're very appreciative of those people coming out and supporting us like that. Up at Madison Square Garden, that was basically a "White Out," which was amazing. That's just a credit to the school and our fan base.
Q: How much pressure are you putting on yourself to fill a role with Jamelle [Cornley] and Stanley [Pringle] gone?
A: I'm not putting any pressure on myself. I just want to go out there and have fun and compete and keep my confidence high. When you start putting added pressure on yourself, that's when you start thinking about your mistakes and start dwelling. I'm more excited than anything.
Q: Are you going into this year thinking you need to score more?
A: I know this year I need to up my production for us to win. But, like I said before, I'm not putting any added pressure saying I have to go out there and get this, this and this. I'm just going to do whatever it takes for this team to win.
Q: How important is rebounding for this team to be successful?
A: Rebounding is very important. If you look at a lot of the games we were able to win last year, it was because we out-rebounded our opponent. We're looking to do that again this year. We have a lot of different guys that really like to get on the glass.
Q: What do you think about these preview magazines ranking you guys at eighth or ninth in the Big Ten?
A: Me personally, I haven't really put too much thought into it. We let the coaches and others handle that. We worry about getting better on the court. But, you know, of course we've seen we were ranked ninth or eighth or whatever, but we're not too worried about that. A game hasn't been played yet by anybody, so we're just going to take it one day at a time and get ready for the opener and one practice at a time basically.
Q: What are your thoughts on what it takes to be an upper team in the Big Ten?
A: It's very tough. The Big Ten is a very competitive league and I think it was ranked like the second toughest league or whatever in the country. But, in order for us to go out and win, we have to play hard consistently, execute well and bring it every day because you can lose to anybody on any given day and you can beat anybody on any given day.
Q: How do you older guys become leaders?
A: Basically, just sharing our experience and things with all of the younger guys and helping them out. They've been coming with a lot of questions on how do we do this, how do we do that, which means they're trying to learn, which is a good thing. You know, just sharing our experience with them and keeping everyone positive and bringing energy every day.
#11 Bill Edwards
Q: How has the adjustment gone from high school to Penn State?
A: Well, I think it's going pretty well. It started off a little rough. Ever since the summer, I have been building the relationship with the players and got to know everyone more. I adjusted a lot more. So, it's better.
Q: Where do they have you playing in practice right now?
A: Mainly the wing right now, the three spot. Which is similar to the two spot in our offense. Right now, I'm the wing.
Q: You are a pretty big wing. What do you think you can do with your size that other guys couldn't?
A: I think I can use it to my advantage as far as getting to the bucket. Maybe I can take a smaller guard down low to the post. Just using it to my advantage and try to do little things out on the court.
Q: You came here knowing this program was on the way up. When you got here and saw the players you were with, how excited did that make you?
A: It made me really excited to see these guys like Talor, D.J., and Jeff to compete at a really high level. To know that I would be playing this year beside these type of guys made me really excited.
Q: What were your impressions after watching the N.I.T. run last year?
A: My mom and I were watching it at home in the living room, and I was just thinking how that could be me playing big time next year. That got me excited again and again. It was great.
Q: Were you surprised they were able to go down and beat Florida in the N.I.T.?
A: I wasn't surprised, because I watched them most of the season. I knew they had great personnel with guys like Jamelle and Talor. I knew they could do it.