Feb. 10, 2005
Q: What made you want to try out for the basketball team as a walk-on?
A: I walked on during my junior year and had been away from basketball for two years and I really missed being a part of a team. That was the main thing. Coming out of high school, I had a few opportunities to play at Division II and III schools, but chose to come here instead.
Q: Why did you choose UMass, where you were not guaranteed to play, when you had offers from Division II and II schools at which you would have been guaranteed to be on the team?
A: I had been offered a partial academic scholarship to UMass, so financially; UMass was a better fit than a Division II or III school, where I would have been paying near $34,000. Here at UMass, I only pay a fraction of that figure. Also, my sister finished here and she had a great time and so I kind of weighed the options and went the academic route instead of the athletic route.
Q: You said you were away from basketball for two years. How did you stay in shape and keep your skills sharp while you were not playing?
A: Well, I played a Boyden Gym a lot and always played intramurals and when I lived up in Central (Residence Area) I played at the outdoor courts almost everyday. But when I started playing with the team, on an indoor court, it took a little getting used to.
Q: What are the main differences between the team from last year and this year's team?
A: Last year we had a lot of new guys. I was new, but we also had five new freshman. I feel like the camaraderie is a lot better this year, as well as the on-the-court trust. I think we're more at ease in practice. We hang out everyday and we're all friends now so I think that helps.
Q: What is your role on the team?
A: On the first day, Coach (Steve Lappas) asked me just to bring energy to practice everyday and play smart everyday and push the other guys. My role is mainly to play hard and play smart. I feel like if I didn't play hard everyday these guys, who are so much more gifted, wouldn't play hard and I'd let them down.
Q: What is the best thing about the team and about the school?
A: I'm glad I chose a big school. There's so much to do and so many people to meet. One of the best things about being on the team is, like I said, just being a part of it. All the guys on the team are great, the coaches are great, and the people that work with us in the Athletic Department are great. I've gotten to go on some great trips like to Seattle and Miami, places I never would have gone to otherwise.
Q: You've played in front of intense crowds against UConn and at places like George Washington, and St. Bonaventure. Where do these experiences rank in terms of your basketball and college experiences?
A: They're all pretty intense. With a big crowd, it's such a physical feeling. It's loud when you're on the court, but when we were in the Hartford Civic Center, you could physically feel the floor shake and you'd look up and see so many people out there. At places like St. Bonaventure's and St. Joe's, it's smaller but it seems louder when you pack in 3,500 people in a gym because the sound is just bouncing off the walls and they know how important it is to win their home games.
Q: With the season about halfway over, what are your expectations for the rest of the season?
A: Well, we still have expectations to make the NCAA tournament whether by winning the rest of our games and earning an at-large bid, or by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Our main focus should be to gain momentum because we know we're more talented and can play better than most teams in A10 Tournament.
Q: What are your plans after this year, since you will be graduating this spring?
A: I plan on going to either get my MBA or my Law degree. I know I want to get both, but I don't know which I want to get first. I want to get into the working world and use my Sport Management degree while taking these classes. I want to get some real-life working experience, maybe in college athletics.
Q: What does UMass need to do to get the crowds that showed up to the UConn game to come to the less appealing games, such as noon games on Saturdays? And how much does the crowd affect you?
A: In terms of affecting us, I don't think it really does because we have mature guys who know that we need to play hard every game. Once we start winning more it will help, but we need to create at atmosphere and maybe do more in the community to draw bigger crowds. When you form good relationships with your marketing department and the community, they kind of build off each other.
Q: What would it mean to the school to possibly make the NCAA tournament or the National Invitation Tournament (NIT)?
A: It would be a ton because I think it's been six years since we've been to postseason play. It would give the fans something exciting to cheer about. We have an exciting team now, but obviously situations like that would create a great atmosphere. I know it would mean a lot to our seniors like Anthony Anderson and Chris Chadwick to send them out on a high note and to give them some postseason experience.
Q: What does it mean to the team to have the younger guys like Big Deli (Jeff Salovski) and Rashaun Freeman step up and play important roles?
A: The young guys are just as important, maybe not in terms of leadership, but because they bring so much energy to the team. Because they're so new to the program, you see them develop in different ways everyday in practice.
Q: What is your most memorable moment on the team?
A; I would have to say the UConn win at home and the fans storming the court because I would sit at home and see it happen every year in March Madness and wonder what it would feel like and that game was obviously a tournament atmosphere.