Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with San Diego SG Johnny Dee about being the best free throw shooter in the WCC.
Your non-conference schedule includes back-to-back games against New Mexico and San Diego State. Which of these two games do you feel will present your biggest test? I am very excited for both games and want to win both. The New Mexico game will be a big test because it is on the road in a very hostile environment. The SDSU game is our cross-town rival game that we get to play at home.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? Our main goal is to make a postseason tournament. In order to do that we have to take a one-game-at-a-time approach. We feel like we can play with every team on our schedule, so we are excited for the season to start and expect to have a successful year.
As a freshman you started 30 games, finished first in the conference making 2.43 three pointers per game, and were named to the All-WCC freshman team. How were you able to come in and contribute right from the start? Coach Grier gave me a lot of freedom as a freshman and my role was help the team with my shooting. I was confident in myself and coach was confident in me, so I was able to contribute to the team as a freshman.
In the 2012 WCC tourney you scored a career-high 30 points (6-9 3PM) in a win over Pepperdine. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were “in the zone”? That was a great game: one of my favorites since being at USD. It was just one of those nights where I felt very comfortable with my shot, and Christ Anderson kept creating open shots for me. All I had to do was knock down open shots and that night they were falling for me!
In the 2013 WCC tourney you scored a team-high 18 points in a three point loss to St. Mary’s. What did you learn from that game that you think will help you this year? First of all, we learned that we could play with the top teams in this conference, which gives us some confidence going into this season. I think we also learned the importance of making the right play and executing down the stretch. We should have won that game and moving forward we will have to be tough and finish out those types of games.
You have led your team in scoring during each of the past two years. What is your secret for being a good scorer? I do not know if I have a secret or anything. I grew up shooting a lot with my dad so I am comfortable with that aspect of my game. I have always been smaller than most other players so from a young age I had to learn to score against guys who are bigger and more athletic.
You also led the conference with 88.8 FT%. What is your secret for being a great FT shooter? Free throw shooting is a mental aspect of the game. I try to go up to the line assuming that I am going to make the shot. I always repeat one of my favorite Bible verses to calm myself down (1 Corinthians 3:7), and then I shoot my free throws.
You play for Coach Bill Grier, what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him? I am thankful for being able to play for him. He has a great basketball mind, especially on defensive strategies, and has helped me improve a lot on the defensive side of the ball. He has also challenged me on offense to add skills to my game other than shooting.
You dad played in the NFL, your mom ran cross country at Tulsa, and your grandfather won a gold medal as part of the 1968 US Olympic basketball team. Who is the best athlete in the family, and do you credit at least some of your success to genetics? God has blessed me with a very athletic family. I would say that my sister is probably the most athletic: she is pretty good at everything she does. She played baseball until she was 11 and was really good at skateboarding. She now plays basketball at UC Irvine. I definitely think genetics has played a role in my success: I know for sure it has helped me develop a passion for sports.
You turn 21 next month: what are your plans for the big day? No big plans yet. Most likely I will do something with my team but unfortunately I have eight hours of class on my birthday so that will take up a large portion of the day.