Aug. 4, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Verdell Jones III, a rising senior on the 2011-12 Indiana men's basketball team, took some time recently to talk about the offseason.
On where his is physically:
"I'm getting there. It's a process. I am going to rehab (for my knee) in the morning and afternoon and I'm playing fully now. So it's getting a lot stronger and a whole lot better."
On his off-season focus:
"Defense is my biggest key right now. We lost a key defender from last year in Jeremiah Rivers. So someone has to step in and take that role and with me being a senior and getting stronger and bigger, I want to complete my game defensively. I just want to come and compete and play every day."
On how he feels on the court:
"I feel great. I'm trying to guard the best players every game. One day I will guard Christian (Watford) and the next day I'll guard Jordan (Hulls). So I'm trying to guard everyone with different attributes and try to stop them. I'm getting through screens a lot better with my size and I'm feeling really good."
On the importance for everyone to be well-rounded players:
"It's huge. We have to stop people this year. Last year, we played the first eight games defensively and then we just stopped playing defense. We have to keep that (defense) going for all 30-plus games. We really have to lock down and guard their best player. We don't want their guards or big men to have 30 or 20 points. We have to make it difficult for them and where they get their touches and the shots they have."
On where the added weight has come from:
On where his offensive game is:
"I think me being out for the first few weeks of the summer really helped me put the weight on. I was lifting four times a week and that helped me gain about 15 pounds. It feels good, it's not a "heavy" weight. At first it was heavy but now I am used to it and I'm doing a lot better with it."
"I feel that my explosion is a lot better. I'm getting to the basket a lot quicker. My first step has gotten quicker. I'm jumping (in the lane) and taking the hit and still making the basket. I'm starting to get more in my legs now to, which is making me quicker as well."
On what drills help with improving defense:
"Coach (Je'Ney) Jackson has done a lot of things with our agility drills, as far a lateral movements. We have pool workouts going laterally, where we try to get quicker and stronger. That helps us to get our leg over the screen or using my strength and body to stay in front of players. And it helps us to have that confident mindset to play defense every single play helps too."
On how the added strength across the team helps with confidence:
"Christian has gotten quicker and stronger. Victor (Oladipo) and Will (Sheehey). Tom Pritchard has lost weight but has gotten stronger - he's squatting a ridiculous amount of weight right now. Derek (Elston) is looking stronger too so everyone a whole is looking stronger right now."
On whether this is the best off-season the team has had under Coach Crean:
"Yes, by far. From our starters to our walk-ons, the whole team has gotten stronger and better every day. Our conditioning is good and we are throwing good weight up. They have been "player-driven" workouts the whole time. We are getting on guys if they mess up."
On how the freshman have adjusted:
"They are getting better at it. When we first started, they struggled at it like most freshmen do. The lifting at 6:00 a.m. and playing every single day is a little different than high school. But they have adjusted real well and are starting to get the hang of things."
On what he thought went well and what didn't go so well last year:
"My ball-handling was not a sharp as it needed to be and my shooting was suspect. That is something that I have really worked on. When I went home for those six weeks, my dad and I did an hour of ball-handling every single day with bands on my arms, trying to get bigger, stronger, faster and under more control. I think doing that has made me more comfortable with the ball and more able to make better plays. I can see things happening sooner because I don't have to worry about where the ball is while I'm dribbling."
On his role on the team remaining the same:
"I really don't know. Coach sent me some film of some point guards to watch. But I'll take on whatever role they want me to as long as we win."