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 St. Joe’s SF DeAndre’ Bembry about how close his team came to beating UConn in the NCAA tourney last March.
You grew up in Charlotte and finished high school in New Jersey: what made you pick the Hawks? It was not on my radar when I started high school, but Coach Martelli came to visit me and talked to me a few times and then I decided to check it out, and it was the right place for me.
What makes Coach Martelli such a good coach, and what is the most important thing that you ever learned from him? He is genuine and keeps it real with you rather than beating around the bush. He has also taught me to be a better person.
Martelli was quoted as saying that you are 1 of the few freshmen he ever remembers reading the scouting reports for the entire opposing team: what is the biggest advantage you get from all of your advance preparation? In high school you might watch a little tape here and there, but it is important to learn a player’s go-to moves and a team’s go-to plays. If you know what your opponent is going to do an learn it well enough that eventually you can react to it based on instinct.
In the 2014 A-10 tourney title game you scored 13 points in a four-point win over VCU for your school’s first tourney title since 1997. What was the reaction like when you got back to campus? It was pretty good! It was my first championship ever because I never won one in high school, so I was happy to be a part of the team.
In the NCAA tourney you scored 16 points in an eight point overtime loss to UConn: how close did you come to beating the eventual champs? We were right there! We just made a couple of mistakes toward the end, but it was a fun experience to make the tourney.
You started all 34 games as a freshman and were named A-10 Co-Rookie of the Year and Big 5 Rookie of the Year. How were you able to come in and be so successful so quickly? I just tried to be aggressive but not out of control. I stuck with my game and did not try to do things I could not do: just tried to get some points and play some good defense.
Your non-conference schedule includes potential games against Drexel, St. John’s, and Villanova: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? I think Gonzaga will actually be our toughest game because it is on the road.
You had a lot of senior leadership last year that has graduated (Langston Galloway, Ronald Roberts Jr., Halil Kanacevic): how much pressure is there on you to be a leader this season? It is hard to lose all that leadership, but to be honest I felt like a bit of a leader even as a freshman so I do not think there is much pressure on me to lead this year. I like being a leader and getting my teammate involved, so it will not be anything new for me.
This year the A-10 is expanding to 14 teams with the addition of Davidson, which gives you a whopping seven teams who made the postseason last spring: how competitive do you expect the conference to be this year? It is going to be just as competitive as last year because there are a few teams who did not lose a lot of players like we did.
What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? I want to raise all of my stats this year (including my scoring) and just try to win some games: that is the whole point of playing.