Aug. 19, 2011
"As of right now, I feel the best that I have in a really long time. Coming off of last year, you may or may not know that I had a lot of problems. I had knee problems. I had a sports hernia. So last season was really tough to get through. I had surgery and I've been working really hard on my legs this summer. Right now, I feel absolutely fantastic. I'm not 100 percent yet is what Tim (Garl) is telling me, but as I come back from these two weeks that we're going to have off, he said I'll be 100 percent as long as I keep stretching, which I plan on doing. Right now, I feel fantastic."
On whether he has been back on the court:
"I've been back on the court for about three weeks. I know it doesn't seem like a long time, but for me, I haven't played like I'd like to be playing since the season. For me, it is just an excitement to be on there, to be able to play again the way I want to. My defense has gotten a lot better. Some guys still abuse me a little, they know I'm hurt so I can't really go hard all the way. After I get done stretching with Tim, and then I come back on the court, I feel so loose and I feel like I can play with those guys again, and that is probably the best feeling."
On the freshman class:
On whether he is getting more explosiveness after his surgery:
"Everybody knew Cody (Zeller) coming in was going to be the big guy, and to my surprise he hasn't backed down from anything. He has taken every challenge head on, which is always good to see. Remy (Abell) and Austin (Etherington) are really good shooters. We kind of mess around with Remy and say that he has a `spray ball'. So he is working a lot on his jump shot so he can come out and prove to us that he can shoot. I played against Austin two to three years in high school, and I always knew that the kid can play. He can shoot he can drive. Once he gets a little bit stronger, he's going to be able to use his body to get to where he needs to go. Right now those freshmen are pretty surprising."
"It is coming back. Me and Coach (Je'Ney) Jackson were just talking about how I've lost a half an inch from my vertical from when I measured my best back in October. I'm a half an inch away from that and I'm just three weeks into being where I need to be. He is really excited about that and he is telling me that when I go home and I'm going to California for a couple of days, to get on the beach and run on the beach to get my thighs and my calves bigger. He said when I do come back, I should see a good three or four inches of gain from all of the lifting and things we'll be doing. That is always fun to know."
On the low point for his vertical jump:
"The low point for me was when I can't remember how long ago we did it, but I know we all did testing and I couldn't test. I couldn't jump, I couldn't reach, I couldn't slide. Days that my abs didn't hurt me, my knees would be hurting, so they just told me to stay away from it. So, the fact that I couldn't even do it was not only disheartening for me, but it was also kind of embarrassing to the team that I couldn't even jump with those guys. Things are coming my way and it is very exciting."
On working with Coach Jackson:
"Coach Jackson is one of the main reasons why I am what I am. Right now I feel like I have a huge upper body, and he told me that back when he used to play football, he never had knee problems, and he knew exactly what was wrong with me and knew exactly what I could and couldn't do. So, I had Je'Ney here the whole time just doing leg press, lunges and things to get my quads better. He told me that the reason why I could be hurting was I didn't have any quad muscle, and I could see even flexing in the mirror that you could see barely any definition. So the whole time, I've been there with him, I've gotten so much better conditioning and strength-wise. Coach Jackson is the main reason why I feel so healthy right now."
On improving defensively:
"The whole point of my rehab has been putting the bands around my ankles and doing slides. I have got weights on my ankles and swinging them back and forth just to get the motion back. Agility is the sand, agility in the pool, Coach has me running stadiums on the football field. Stuff to get the movements I'm going to be doing on the court, he has got me doing in those situations so it is not as painful. I'm getting my technique back, and then once I get it all stretched out, it is like there is nothing even there."
On battling his injuries during the season:
"What I remember most was right before the Evansville game, during the walk through, I made a cut and just hit the floor real quick. We had no idea what to do or what was going on, and then all season, the coaches had no idea, Tim really had no idea, and then I went to get an MRI and there it was. That is the problem, I played last season, and I know I did terrible. I know the fans probably though I did terrible, and I don't blame them. The fact is, I tried to get through it, but it is kind of bothering that they think I did terrible, but really I just had a hernia the whole time. I just tried to get through it the best I could."
On what he plans to work on in his game once fully healthy:
"Just trying to do the defense thing. My jump shot is going to be there. That is something I can come in and work on, on my own or with the managers. Right now I just want my defense to be to a point where I can guard a three, a four or a five. I've got to be versatile, or the team is playing so well right now you're not going to see the floor. I've got to be able guard multiple positions and I've got to be able to bang down low. Really, I'm just trying to be able to guard a guard."
On what he wants to be physically:
"I want to try to get my body to where I can guard a five and still guard a three. I can gain a lot of weight and I've always been able to have this big upper body, but Coach Jackson was telling me I could gain 15 pounds and just put it in my legs. So that is really what I want to do. I'm jumping rope every day because I've got to have the quick feet to guard the three, but still have the strength to guard a big four or a big five, to where if Cody or Tom (Pritchard) got in foul trouble, I could still guard them, but if they wanted to go big but have me guard a three or four, I can go out there and do it."
On who on the team has improved and surprised him most in open gym:
"Will (Sheehey) has surprised me a lot. Victor (Oladipo) is pretty surprising, but with Will, he has brought his game up so much. It is to the point now where all you can do is contest his shot, because everybody knows the kid jumps so high, but now his shot he gets it up so high and so quick that all you can do is contest it and hope he misses. Tom has come along so much, taking jump shots and threes even and knocking them down. Free throw shooting really is not much of an issue any more. Will and Tom really have impressed me the most."
On how excited the players are and what they think they can do this season:
"Right now, who knows what we can do. With the excitement that we have, and trust me we see it every day in practice. It is becoming more of a player-driven thing. It is no more of the coaches telling us what to do. (Jordan Hulls) has us on the line every day at 3:30, when we're supposed to be there, running the pre-workout before we actually workout. Right now, who knows. I've never seen this team like this. Coming in my freshman year, it was always kind of look at the coaches to see what to do, and now the coaches are kind of getting in there and asking what we're doing and we're already ready to go. From that aspect of the game, who knows what we could do, honestly. If we just dream it big, and are just ready to play and ready to start it up when we get back. We'll see what we can do for ourselves."
On Jordan Hulls's leadership:
"When I got here, the only player I caught a glimpse of that was from Verdell (Jones). When I was a freshman, I took it in a negative way just because he was yelling at me. I didn't really see what he was trying to say. Jordy will take you to the side and tell you and explain to you what you're doing wrong and tell you how you can improve on it. I haven't seen that since I've been here.
"He is a lot more vocal. He is one of those guys that starts screaming now. During conditioning days, if you're not making it, Jordy is the first one to tell you and whether you like the way he is saying it or not, he is going to say it. If that doesn't motivate you, he'll get you off the floor. He has had to kick a couple of guys out of the conditioning. Jordy is one of those guys that has stepped it up really big for us and we hope that it just continues for us during the season."