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 Miami SG Rion Brown about beating a top-ranked team by the largest margin in NCAA history.
Three of your new conference opponents this year will be Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse. How competitive do you expect the brand-new ACC to be this winter? It is going to be fun. We have added a couple of more games to our schedule that will help our RPI, and adding those Big East teams will change the style of play in the ACC. We look forward to getting our 1st win against all of them!
You play for Coach Jim Larranaga; What makes him such a great coach and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him? He has great leadership and consistency from year to year. We call him “the man with the plan” because he always lets us know exactly what he wants from us: we know what to expect because the rules and philosophy stay the same each year. He taught me how to control myself on the court both mentally and physically. I know what I can do as well as what I cannot do, and my reaction to a bad play can change the result of a game.
You are the team’s leading returning scorer after losing your top six scorers from last year. How much pressure is there on you to be a leader this year? What are your expectations for the upcoming season? There is not so much pressure; just a bit more responsibility to make some more shots. It will be a lot different than last year. We have to do a lot of learning. Being the seventh man last year, I can help teach the rest of the team about what Coach L is looking for. The earlier I can teach our freshmen what to expect, the better we will be.
One of your high school teammates was 2013 first team all-SEC guard Jordan McRae. Do you think he can get Tennessee back to the NCAA tourney this year? I definitely think so. It has been fun to see his play develop over the past few years as he has become a more mature player. He was always gifted offensively and he has a lot of good teammates returning.
As a freshman in 2011, you played in all 36 games. How were you able to come in and contribute right from the start? I just came in with the right mindset. I tried to earn my keep rather than thinking I was entitled to playing time.
In the 2011 ACC tourney, Tyler Zeller made a layup at the buzzer in a two point win by North Carolina. Where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? It is probably number two. It really hurt. We were up by about 20 points before they came all the way back to beat us. We could have received an NCAA bid but we ended up in the NIT. The worst loss was in my senior year of high school was when we lost on a buzzer beater in the postseason.
Last January you scored four points in a 90-63 win over #1-ranked Duke (the largest margin of defeat ever for a #1 team). Where does that rank among the highlights of your career? It is probably number one just because of the circumstances. It was the first week we had been ranked during my time here, and it is always competitive to play against a Duke team who is always in the upper echelon of the ACC.
In the 2013 ACC tourney title game, you scored 12 points in a 10 point win over North Carolina (the first ACC title in school history). How much of a home-court advantage did the Tar Heels have in Greensboro? What was the reaction like when you got back to campus? It was definitely a home game for them: there was a sea of blue with little spots of orange. It is always fun to play in a hostile environment. The welcome we got back on campus was just phenomenal: there were fans, kids asking for autographs, TV cameras, etc. To see that kind of support so late at night was great.
In the 2013 NCAA tourney, you scored five points in a 10 point loss to Marquette. What did you learn from that game that you think will help you this year? It showed us that we have to take care of our bodies. We were not really tired, but were unaccustomed to playing that deep into the season so the practices and shootarounds took a toll on us. We need to get more rest and stay hydrated. You could tell that we ran out of gas in the tourney.
Your father, Tico Brown, played basketball at Georgia Tech and was voted to the all-time CBA team. Who is the best player in the family and who does your dad cheer for when you play the Yellow Jackets? I will say that he is the best, but he would probably say the same about me! It took him awhile to hit the learning curve as a player. When we play Georgia Tech he wants me to play well…in a Miami loss! I have to respect that because that is where he grew up, but he always cheers me on.