Two weeks ago at Marist basketball’s media day we sat down with Coach Martin as well as several players for a little Q&A. With the season kicking off tomorrow night here is some insight from the guys to hold you over until tip-off.
MHI- Have you talked to the team about where they think they should be ranked this preseason?
CM- “We haven’t sat down and addressed it yet, we still have two weeks left, but we feel good about where we’re at. We’re very excited about the season and as Mike [Ferraro] mentioned we finished the season out really, really strong last year and that carried into the spring into the summer and into the fall. But we’ll have that conversation next week, it’s on our minds and we’re excited.”
MHI- What were your impressions of media here at the McCann arena today?
CM- “I thought it was great having media day here today. Quite honestly I was surprised, pleasantly surprised at how many members of the media showed up today. It’s great; there was good energy in the McCann Arena, there was a good buzz with a lot of cameras and reporters around the kids get excited, the coaches get excited. It’s usually a good indication that the season is literally right around the corner. I thought it was a great idea, I thought it was a great day for Marist basketball men and women. It was neat.”
MHI- Have the increased expectations coming into this year had any effect on the accountability of the players so far in the preseason?
CM- “People are passionate about our program which is a great thing, they care about our program. As far as accountability though, I feel like we’ve always had it. I think when you get a taste of winning you get excited and you want more, you feel like last year we won 14 maybe we can win 16, maybe we can win 17. So you know, you work a little bit harder, you work a little bit smarter, you get here a little bit earlier, you stay a little bit longer. I think the excitement of finishing the season the way we did last year has our guys a little bit more excited and a little bit more driven.”
MHI- You talked during the press conference about the captainship on the team this year, how the guys really earned it. We spoke to all three of three of your captains who seemed very proud to earn that title, what specifically have they done to earn those titles n your eyes?
CM- Well I can go one by one for you. Devin Price was here four years ago when the program was not in the best shape. He’s seen this program grow tremendous strides in the past three years and he’s a throwback guy; he’s earned it. He came off the bench his sophomore year, he played a few minutes his freshman year and that’s how it used to be years ago. You would earn it. You would struggle, you would fail, you get bigger and stronger and then by your junior year you take off; I admired that about Devin. He didn’t go away. He just kept working, getting stronger and finally arrived to this point where he is an all-conference player. Jay Bowie is the same thing he’s been mister consistent. He’s started every game here except for one since he stepped on campus. He’s a kid who again has earned the right to become captain. He’s taken his bumps and he has the battle scars to prove it. He’s just a great leader, not only when things are going well but also when things are rough. The same holds true for a kid like Dorvell Carter who has had two surgeries on his knees. He is not the most athletic kid but he believes in Marist, he believes in the Marist community. He’s one of those kids down in New York City, that any time I go down there he’s promoting Marist. Marist is a great place, not just the basketball program but the campus and the people. Dorvell just embodies what we are about here.”
MHI- In the last two years in particular you’ve gotten a lot of guys from winning, top notch programs, how do you think that environment translates once they get here to Marist?
CM- Well I think winning, you can’t put a price tag on it. T.J. Curry won two city championships and then a state championship. Chavaughn Lewis won a city championship. Isiah Morton won a south Jersey championship. They’re winners. Manny Thomas comes from one of the best programs in the city. So they understand winning, I don’t have to force it or spoon feed them they expect to win, they want to win, they know how to win. So it becomes very helpful for me when I try to share my experiences at Memphis, where we won a lot. So they can bridge that gap when it comes up in conversation where they can say to me, “Oh yeah coach I know what you mean, at Christ the King we won a city championship. Oh yeah coach at Saint Mary’s we won a city championship.” We’ve got a young man who I can’t talk about from one of the better programs in the country who is going to come in hopefully next year and do some really neat things, another winning program. So yeah, I think you can’t get enough kids from winning programs that come from places that they win, where the coaches do a great job teaching.
MHI- Do you think the chemistry and the development of this group as a team is going to help with the struggles on the road from last year?
CM- Without a doubt. One of the issues I’ve had since I’ve been here is we’ve had no continuity with the roster. So like every other year someone left, someone transferred out, someone had an academic issue; where the past years we’ve had none of that. We’ve gotten, quite honestly, better students so we’ve had no academic issues. The kids we had in the past were not bad kids, but they struggled a little academically. These guys are really solid academically, so when you have a team coming back losing no one it’s going to help you to win games on the road cause essentially in years past I was almost starting over again and that was a challenge.
MHI- What do you think is the team’s biggest strength this year?
CM- I think our depth. I think our depth, we’ve got t-shirts, we haven’t handed them out yet but they read “Marist basketball” on the front and on the back “Believe in We.” If we can Believe in We and nothing else then we can beat anybody in this league. Every night come out, Believe in We. It may be your night tonight, it may be Isiah’s night tomorrow, it may be Adam Kemp’s night the next night. But if you Believe in We, we can beat anyone in the league.
MHI- You’re a captain this year, that comes with big expectations. What does the captainship mean to you?
DP- It just means leading by example. I’ve been around a lot of captains, some I’ve liked better than others. Some I think were good at the talking aspect but not about the work. I think being a captain I have to work and lead by example, show them how to do it by doing it myself. That’s how I want to do it I want to be the example of how to work this season.
MHI- We’ve seen you down here at the arena at night working on your shot, does that just all go into leading by example for the guys?
DP- Yeah, you just never want to stop working. You got individual goals and you have team goals, the best way to do both of them is to be better yourself. Whenever I have some free time I get in the gym put in some extra work.
MHI- What has Coach Martin said to you about his expectations for you this year?
DP- Coach wants me to be the player that I am, one of the best players in the conference, so that’s the standard I hold myself to. I want to be one of the best. I want to improve, I made all-conference last year and I definitely want to be there again. That’s what motivates me.
MHI- Do you feel any added pressure on the team this year with the higher expectations?
DP- I think now that we’ve got some expectations its exciting. That pressure is there we want to live up to it. We don’t want to give anyone another reason to doubt what we do on the court. I think that pressure is good for us. We feel it, we know it’s there. Honestly, it’s the reason we need to work. If you want to be good, you should want that expectation and I love it. I love that people think we are going to be good because I think we are going to be good.
MHI- Are there going to be more big dunks from you this year like the one you had last year against Canisius?
DP- Yea, that’s the plan man. I feel like I haven’t shown Marist College just how athletic I am. I’ve only got that one and another tip jam my freshman year. This year definitely, I want it to be more of a high flying year. Go out with a good memory.
MHI- The whole team seems more athletic this year, is that something you guys feel as well?
DP- Yea, we’re an exciting group and I think that’s something that we feed off of that sometimes there’s incredible plays that happen in practice and just because that play happened; practice picks up. The excitement, the intensity picks up. I think when you have a team that’s able to be that exciting and be that athletic you never know what can happen. A steal could happen and next thing you know someone’s getting dunked on and the crowd’s going crazy. I think you need plays like that to win both at home and on the road.
MHI- You, Anell and Dorvell are the only ones left from that team that won one game a couple of years ago. Do you feel this team has grown since those days and if so how?
DP- When I came in my freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that we were good individually but I found out that if you aren’t good as a team then it doesn’t matter. We had a lot of good individual players but it doesn’t work unless you gel so growing through the stages of being a sophomore, junior and now into my senior year; if you’ve got that chemistry that’s what you need to build off of. It’s not just about being able to dunk or shoot a long range three. It’s about how are you helping your team, how are you helping the fans, how are you going to go that extra mile for the team. You need to give up shots, give up minutes; that’s what makes you a team. We didn’t have that my freshman year that I think we have now.
MHI- What does being a captain mean to you this year, as a redshirt senior?
DC- It means a lot, just knowing that all the hard work I’ve put in is paying off. I take my job very serious, helping the kids on the court and off the court while trying to win some games.
MHI- How is the recovery process from last year, are you back to 100% right now?
DC- Oh yeah I’m good right now, I’m still doing rehab right now just to strengthen my leg. But right now I’m at 100%.
MHI- Do the expectations for the team coming into this year make this all that much more meaningful coming into this season for you?
DC- Yea it does, just like Coach Martin said we have a lot of depth this year. We have two or three guys at every position. This year is probably the best team since I’ve been here, the chemistry is very good, we have a lot of depth, everyone is working hard. Practices are always competitive because everyone is competing; everybody is pushing one another because everybody knows that if you mess up that somebody else will be there to pick up the slack. Everyone is working hard to keep up the momentum and if that plays out we’ll have a good season.
MHI- In your fifth year here, have you taken on a leadership role? Particularly with the freshman?
DC- Yea me and Devin Price are two of the oldest guys on the team so we talk to the freshman all the time. They might make a play or make a mistake and we’ll be there to tell them we went through that same thing, it’s a long season, hold your head up cause we’re all going to make mistakes. I feel like I’m, as well as a leader on the court, I’m also a leader off the court because a lot of the young guys they come to me and ask me stuff about class and I just give them my input. I feel like being a captain, it’s a big leadership role; it’s a role I accept.
MHI- You’re a captain this year alongside Devin and Dorvell, what does that mean to you?
JB- I’ m glad coach put a lot of trust in me this year. I have more responsibility with the team so I need to be more of a vocal leader and more of a leader on the court
MHI- You’re also the youngest captain, what do you think that says about you?
JB- Coach told me he wanted me to come back next year to be a returning captain and I was the guy he said.
MHI- What kind of work did you put in during the offseason to get ready for this year?
JB- We did three lifting workouts per week, three individual workouts per week until we could do team workouts which we did twice a week. I think that really helped us become more prepared for this year. We also have a lot of returning guys this year though so we already knew the offense. The offense was able to be implemented a lot quicker and the defense concepts were implemented a lot quicker so I think the fact that we have a lot of returning guys as well as a long off season helped us prepare a lot for this year.
MHI- Do you think those returning guys will positively affect the chemistry this year?
JB- Oh definitely. Last year we didn’t really know each other. We were still feeling each other out because we were still really young. This year we have four juniors, four sophomores and only two freshman so I think we know each other’s actions on the court a lot better so the chemistry really picked up a lot more this year than it did last year.
MHI- You lead the team in scoring last season as a freshman, what can we expect from you this year in your sophomore campaign?
CL- Basically just to improve on everything I accomplished on last year. Just to live up to the expectations of my coach and my teammates and my family.
MHI- What has the environment been like this year with higher expectations?
CL- I’ve been hearing a buzz around about the team, it’s exciting to hear that because it means more fans at the games. The more people come the better and basically I just want to give the fans what they want and be able to have a successful year.
MHI- Has Coach Martin discussed your role this year with you?
CL- Whatever coach asks me to do that’s what I’m going to go out there and do.
MHI- Would you like to talk about the new haircut this season?
CL- I mean I had to switch it up. New year, new haircut. Next year I’ll probably have something new, you never know
MHI- Anell, what are your expectations coming into this season?
AA- Team wise I expect us to be good. We worked hard all spring and summer. The stuff I’ve seen from us and the things I know we are capable of doing; I feel we’re going to be really good this year.
MHI- Has Coach Martin talked to you about your role for this season yet?
AA- We spoke about it briefly, we really haven’t had an at length talk about it yet but he’s told me personally to just bring my experience and things I can bring to the table; my talent level, length, athleticism, skill level to the floor. All the things I’ve picked up over the years and just apply that to the team.
MHI- In the last year, you’ve gone through a lot of growth and development, how do you believe that will help this year?
AA- It helps me a lot. Mostly in terms of being there mentally, mental toughness. Knowing who you are and what you can do. You know, not letting what other people say affect you or rattle your mind set of what you know you’re capable of doing. I feel like that’s important because every top athlete has that mental toughness that’s needed to be the best you can be.
MHI- Being one of the older guys on the team now, what’s it like being a leader for the younger guys?
AA- It’s just different in terms of you know what Coach Martin expects. Being that this is my fourth year here, my third year playing after being hurt my freshman year, I’ve seen older guys like Dejuan Goodwin and how they carried themselves interacting with other people. So I just try to talk to the younger guys from time to time for advice and try to use what I’ve been taught as well as my own personality and experiences to apply that to the team in the best way possible.
MHI- During your freshman year the team really struggled, although you were injured and could not play. How much different is the vibe on the team this year compared to that first year?
AA- It’s just much more positive. I think everyone can sense it. There’s a really positive vibe from people in the community as well. People are talking about us. We have the billboard over by the Palace Diner now with Coach Martin on it talking about getting season tickets which is always good that helps bring publicity to the program, both men and women. It makes us visible out in the Poughkeepsie community and I can’t say that was always the case, especially after my freshman year.
MHI- You showed off some pretty impressive handles during the red/white scrimmage the other day. Can you talk a little bit about the experience of playing in that game?
IM- That game was really just a time for us to take off practice and go out there and have fun. A lot of guys showed they’ve gotten better as well as the freshman showing their talents so it was just us having a good time out there, having fun.
MHI- With R.J Hall graduating last year, what do you see your role as this year?
IM- This year I’m trying to become more of a leader. Last year R.J. was a real good leader, this year we have Khalid who got hurt and T.J. who is the other guard so we’re just all trying to make sure that our team is up to par in every game.
MHI- Last year you got to play in the Rupp Arena, against Kentucky and Marquis Teague, do you think that experience will help you this year?
IM- Last year I played against a couple elite guards like Scott Machado, Marquis Teague, the guard from Penn; but I feel like those experiences will definitely help me this year because there will be freshman that I’ll play against and I’ll know not to take things lightly because once the opportunity is there it’s just whoever wants it. It was a real good experience.
MHI- We’ve seen some impressive highlights from you on line, are we going to see more Marist highlights of you this year?
IM- Oh yeah, definitely. A lot more wins this year so more wins means more highlights.
MHI- During the game you were tossing up a lot of alley oops, would you say you are seeing the court better so far this season?
IM- I think my vision has always been there it’s just having confidence in the guys. Knowing who wants it where. Guys like Manny Thomas that can jump real good and knowing where they want the ball. Adam Kemp is another one. In high school everyone’s not like these guys so it’s harder to display. A guy like Chris Paul has Blake Griffin on one side and DeAndre Jordan on the other side, all he has to do is throw the ball at the rim and one of them is going to get it. That’s how I feel this year, if I penetrate and kick I know the guys are going to make the shot. If I throw it to Adam Kemp I know he’s going to dunk it on someone. Just that confidence, that’s really the key to my vision.
MHI- What is up with Jay Bowie’s pasta obsession?
AK- I’ll give you a little story. We lift at 6:30 in the morning three days a week because that’s the best time we can get our whole team together to lift. So my friend here wakes up approximately 5:40 every morning, goes down and makes a giant bowl of pasta. Now I don’t know if that’s normal but I’ve never seen anyone else in my life make pasta at 5:40 in the morning. It just stems throughout the whole day, probably about a box and a half to two boxes a day.
JB- You guys should come to the house at 5:30 in the morning and watch what we do. That is a blasphemous lie, I don’t know what he’s talking about. Friday you guys should come over with a camera and see if I really do this.
MHI- If you’re not making pasta, then what are you doing?
JB- Eating normal people food, at 5:40 in the morning like cereal and sausage.
AK- Swear you have never made pasta at 5:40 in the morning.
JB- Well we had run at 5:40 in the morning one time. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was one time. It was already made I just had to heat it up.
MHI- We’ll get to the bottom of this.
AK- We will get to the bottom of this.