Selected quotes from seniors Charlie Jones and Jalen Rhea in advance of American's season-opener at Maryland.
On Matt Cimino’s eligibility?
"It’s definitely exciting, Matt’s been working hard all preseason. It’s a little bit of a different situation for him, not knowing if he can play, but he’s kept his head down, been working really hard and coming along really nicely - and he’ll definitely be able to help us out this year."
What did you improve the most during the offseason?
"My shot’s more consistent, I’m more confident with it this year. Hopefully I’ll just be able to step in, and if the shot’s open, take it, knowing that I’ve put in the work to make some shots; also, making plays with my right hand, finishing a little better. Still can get better in both those areas, but definitely feel more comfortable and confident."
How’s the three looking this year?
"Good. I mean, there are some days when it’s not feeling as good. But the days where it’s going in over and over again are more and more than they have been in the past."
On his offseason conditioning and what he worked on?
"I went back out with my trainer who I’ve known for several years from my time in Baltimore out in California - was out there for a few weeks. And I did a lot of conditioning/strength stuff with him as I do every summer. But also, every summer I do focus on my game a lot, and making sure I can make more shots, be more of a force on offense, (so) that teams have to respect me on my home court so I can make the game easier for my teammates."
Quick thoughts about the Maryland matchup?
"No, just excited for the atmosphere. Sure, we’ll probably get a lot of hate from the students, but I have a lot of people who actually care about the game that’s going on."
Big home town crew coming?
"I’ve got a lot of family coming. I’ve got a lot of friends who go to Maryland, so they’ll probably be in the stands. They’ll probably bring up some old dirt on me. We’ll see what they come up with."
Thoughts on the NCAA’s ruling on Matt Cimino’s eligibility?
"I’m excited honestly. I like Matt as a guy and the skills he brings to our team are going to be very important for us to win this year, honestly. He can shoot from the outside, his post moves are getting better by the day. And he’s doing what coach is asking him to do in the post, and he can see and pass. So he’s gonna help us out a lot this year and hopefully get me a couple threes open too."
What part of your game, whether it was conditioning or technical aspects of your game, do you think you’ve most improved on?
"The most improvement for me was probably my conditioning. I used to get winded a lot last year, which is part of the reason why I don’t think I played a ton. But conditioning was a big thing and I worked on my handling a little bit this offseason. And then, honestly, the biggest thing for me was confidence, and now seeing the offense for four years, I’m able to help the younger guys know what they’re doing and on top of that helps me know what I’m doing. So I would say just knowing what i’m doing is the biggest thing for me.
I noticed that Pete Carril is here, the godfather of the Princeton offense. Does he typically come for practices?
"Yeah, he usually comes once a year for a couple of days span, at least for the past two years he’s been here for a couple of days … just kind of doing what he does, just telling people Princeton tricks and tips and stuff. I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about. He wrote a book and my dad actually bought it for me and I read it my sophomore year. That dude definitely knows what he’s talking about and he understands the translation from basketball to life, so I really admire him."
First game’s coming up Friday night. Butterflies? Are you excited?
"I’m excited. I really am. Honestly this is my last go-around and Maryland’s an enormous game. It’ll be a crazy atmosphere and I just can’t wait. I’m excited, nervous a little bit since it’s the first game of the season. But for the most part I’m excited just to be in that environment especially with these guys who I’m getting really really close to now."
This being your last year, what’s the most desired outcome as the year plays out?
"Early season I just want to see the younger guys pick up because I know how talented they are with Sa’eed and Mark. I just want to see them do well. And then I want to see us compete non-conference. And once conference time comes I want to handle our business and hopefully I can get a second (Patriot League) ring before I head out of here."