To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Memphis SF Austin Nichols about being named AAC ROY last spring.
You were born in Memphis: how big a deal is it to play for your hometown team? It is huge. It is truly a blessing to stay in town and play for the team in the city where I am from.
You play for Coach Josh Pastner: what makes him such a great coach, and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him? He has a great basketball mind and knows exactly where each player is supposed to be on the court. He has taught me to have high character off the court and stresses to us every day that we do our job both on and off the court.
In February you had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks in a 3-point overtime win over Temple: where does that rank among the best all-around games of your career? That is pretty high up there on my list: it is at least in the top-5. I plan on having more games like that this year.
In the 2014 NCAA tourney you scored 15 points in a loss to Virginia: what did you learn from that game that you think can help you this year? It was a pretty tough loss for us, but I learned that chemistry is a focal point. We are a little closer this year and I think it will be a major key for us when it comes to winning.
Last you became the 1st freshman to start every game for the Tigers in almost a decade and were named AAC ROY: how were you able to come in and be so successful so quickly? I just tried to be aggressive and do what the coaching staff asked me to do. There was no pressure on me to score so I just tried to rebound.
Your non-conference schedule includes games against Wichita State, Baylor, and Oklahoma State: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? I honestly have not looked at the schedule that much, but I know we also play at Gonzaga in January. Right now we are just focused on our first game.
Your top-2 scorers from last year have graduated (Joe Jackson/Michael Dixon): how will you try to replace their combined 26 points? Coach Pastner met with me and Shaq Goodwin over the summer and said that the ball is going to start going into the post more. However, we are both unselfish enough to kick it out when necessary because we have a lot of shooters this year.
What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? Of course we would like to win a conference title and make it to the tourney. A lot of people do not think we will be able to do it, but we have no problem being an underdog.