Selected quotes from American sophomore Andrija Matic, senior Leon Tolksdorf and freshman Mark Gasperini heading into the season opener at Maryland.
WHAT WAS TOUGHEST ABOUT LAST YEAR?
“I had to get used to playing again after not playing for an entire year. It was something that I had to get used to and then as the season came along I think I got more familiar with the offense. And now being here my third year, I think I have an even better idea of the ways we can score.”
WHAT WERE BIGGEST SKILLS YOU WORKED ON DURING THE OFFSEASON?
A lot of drills that involve imagining defenders out on the court, dribble penetrations out of their offense. Knowing where to dribble, where to cut.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO HAVE A STABLE ROLE IN THE ROTATION?
“Playing hard, being aggressive, giving it my all every time I’m out there, getting rebounds too. We’re not the tallest team. I’m not the tallest guy but probably one of the most physical guys on the team.”
Favorite movie: “I don’t know if I really have one”
Favorite music artist: Drake
Favorite meal: Good pasta, good pasta “Italian flavor, European flavor”
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps
1 country to visit: “I would love to go to Australia”
ON CHANGING HIS SHOT
“We changed elements of my shot like 15 times because I couldn’t get low with my feet. The other thing is not only my shot but other aspects, esp in the spring, we were working out so hard.”
“So I finally started getting low on my drives.”
“I got better on it. I still have a lot to improve on it”
“If you look at certain things yes, it would look different. The starting position. I used to start from a high position — I couldn’t do anything but shoot from that position — so we changed that. Also I feel like I (will) throw way more backdoor passes this year. I got faster. I can get by my guy and then throw it compared to last season. I didn’t understand first of all why I can throw it. I didn’t understand how to throw it.”
TRANSITION TO POWER FORWARD
“I think having Brennan is the biggest part .. just the stuff he tells me every day.” … tells him to move, move, move
“Once I’m able to move I can do everything. If I can get over that hump — become more like Charlie. Coach says this every day, ‘Be more like Charlie.’ I have to become more like Charlie.”
ON FEELING BETTER PHYSICALLY
“I feel better. We worked a lot on my vertical. My vertical increased by six inches during the summer. I worked with coach (Sean) Foster a lot on it — that was also a big part. During the conditioning when we were doing conditioning, every time we were running I was feeling better.”
“We’re good, we’re young though. We got lots of things to work on. I think overall we’re good. I think we can get better. I think this team has potential to be elite. Maybe not this year, we can be very good this year, but sometime in the future especially with Brennan”
Movie: Fight Club
Music: Drake (rooming with Alex)
Athlete: LeBron probably. “If you can’t still count Tim Duncan. I have him everywhere.” … “I just love his mentality, mindset.”
Food: Steak with fries
1 country to visit: “Back home, Serbia” … “UK probably. I love London. I love London”
ON ADJUSTING TO COLLEGE BASKETBALL
“It’s a fun time but it’s definitely hard — something I’m adjusting to.”
WHAT BEEN WORKING ON, IMPROVING IN PRACTICE?
“I think the biggest change for me is that I’m starting to play better defense. That’s one of the things I have to really work on. And then just really understanding the offense.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT PLAYING THE 5 IN THE OFFENSE?
“I kind of go back and forth. Obviously most of the time I love it but sometimes I think, man I wish I could take a play off. But obviously I can’t.”
DESCRIBE FOR ME YOUR SKILLSET
“I’d say I’m a pretty good post player. I’ve got some nice post moves. And I think I’m a pretty good passer. I can shoot a little bit but I still need to work on that.”
“I’m comfortable all the way out to the three-point line”
DEFENSIVELY WHAT DO YOU NEED TO WORK ON?
“I need to work on moving my feet better.”
WHAT’S THE EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE WITH THE GUYS?
“I think it’s a good chemistry. Everyone just meshes together. We’re a really tight group so I think it’s great.”
DO YOU ANTICIPATE STARTING?
“I didn’t expect (at) Maryland but I knew that I’d probably be starting right away. That’s what (Mike Brennan) told me right away from the recruiting process.”
Favorite movie: Any of the Pirates of the Caribbean
Favorite athlete: Zlatan Ibrahimović (Manchester United) — moved here from Russia when he was 10 “but soccer’s been a big presence in my life”
Favorite music: Kanye West
1 country to visit: Australia “it’s always been a bucket list (item) of mine” … “I’ve been pretty much everywhere in Europe”