Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Interview with Jason Richards

The Davidsonian recently sat down with Wildcat point guard Jason Richards. Richards talked about this year's expectations, the team's media attention and leading the nation in assists.

The Davidsonian: This team has had more media coverage this year than at any time in the last several decades. Do you have any particular approach to handling all of these interviews and press conferences?

Jason Richards: We actually had a media specialist come in at the beginning of the year to help us handle the pressure and give us tips on how to address them. I think it was really helpful for a lot of our guys who had never experienced that. Going in, Coach McKillop knew that we would have a lot of coverage this year. It’s been great for the program and the school as a whole.

D: Has there been any type of question that has gotten on your nerves the most this year?

JR: They always ask me why I did this or that. And it’s kind of hard to answer those questions sometimes. They also try to get me to only talk about myself and my own performance, but we all want to put it back on the team and talk about our group as a whole. That’s what Davidson is about.

D: I remember some times when they would ask you and Thomas Sander to specifically talk about Stephen Curry. Did that ever get on your nerves?

JR: No. None of us care who gets the media attention as long as we’re winning. Steph is a great player so of course he’ll get some attention. But we love him and we always give him a hard time in the locker room about it.

D: What do you think about these TV announcers who call you “deceptively quick?”

JR: Well, that’s their interpretation of it. I’m not going to tell them how to call the game. I guess it’s kind of a bonus. I’m obviously not the quickest guy out there when we’re playing these teams with really quick guards. But I really don’t care what they say because I’m only worried about how I’m playing.

D: You guys went to Coach before the year and said you wanted to take on this tough schedule. Do you feel like it’s backfired at all? Do you feel comfortable where you sit now?

JR: I mean we’re not comfortable per se because you go into every game wanting to win. But as you say, we went to Coach and we told him that if we were going to be the best, we had to play against the best. We went up against UNC, Duke and UCLA and we played them all tough. We showed the nation what we’re capable of. But we also got exposed in some places. That’s something that Coach always talks about: learning from your weaknesses. So that’s great. We’re heading into conference now and I think this experience will really help us down the road. Ultimately, it’s all about who’s playing the best basketball in March.

D: Two years ago, you guys lost some really tough out-of-conference games over the break and then you stumbled a bit when you reentered conference play and finished 10-5. How do you avoid that trap this year?

JR: Well it’s hard to say what that trap really is. We know that every game in the SoCon is going to be tough. We can’t look past anyone. The Citadel game on Thursday is a big game for us because we really want to snap this three-game losing streak. But Christmas is a time where we don’t have class, we can focus on basketball and I think we’ll come out of it ready to go.

D: A lot of people talked about how crazy the students were at the Bobcats Arena this year to the point that it was almost a home away from home. Although they are very different, how would you compare playing in Belk Arena and Bobcats Arena?

JR: It’s really different. Belk is a special place. It holds, what, 6,000? It’s small and it’s really loud in there with the fans and that really helps us. Playing at Bobcats Arena was an unbelievable experience. Obviously our fan turnout really helped us. But there were still a lot of Duke and UNC people there, so we’re looking forward to playing at Belk where it’s all Davidson red. We are really excited about some great home conference games in Belk and I think that the students are excited too.

D: I notice that after a whistle or a foul, you will crack a smile and have a nice little conversation with the referee. What kind of things are you telling him?

JR: I never really say anything in particular, but you need to talk to the refs throughout the game. You get a sense of how they’re going to ref the game. It’s fun to joke around every once in a while, but you do have to be careful about what you say.

D: What’s the craziest thing that you’ve ever heard a fan yell at you or the team?

JR: You try to block it all out but you do hear a lot of stuff on the court. We hear all the stuff about Steph: “go back to high school,” “it’s past your bedtime.” When I was a junior, I heard some stuff about my sister being better than me, since she was a McDonalds All-American. But I’d say that my favorite was when people chanted “daddy’s boy” to Matt McKillop.

D: Is there any road venue that you particularly like playing in around the Southern Conference?

JR: Well they’re all really great and exciting places to play. But I think that the College of Charleston has one of the best atmospheres. They pack that gym and the students are right on top of you. So I always get pumped about playing there.

D: You went from being a backup with little playing time during your freshman year to now being the nation’s leader in assists. You’ve been called one of the best point guards in the country. Talk about that journey.

JR: I’ve shocked myself. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that it would have turned out like this. But Kenny Grant taught me a lot. He really taught me the system and helped me through my ups and downs. As far as what I’ve accomplished this year, I have to put it all on my teammates and our coaching staff. They have confidence in me and have helped me out through the tough times. But it’s unbelievable. I’m just going keep doing what I’m doing. I’m having fun with this, and that’s really the point.

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