Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Tennessee SG Jordan McRae about what it will take to move from the NIT in 2013 to the NCAA tourney in 2014.
Your non-conference schedule includes games against Xavier, Wichita State, NC State, and Virginia. Which of these four games do you feel will present your biggest test? Xavier is our biggest test right now because it is on the road and is our first game of the year.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? We will play hard every game and focus on the small things. Our goal is to make the NCAA tourney: we do not care what seed we get.
One of your high school teammates was Miami guard Rion Brown: how do you think he will do this year after losing his top-6 scorers from last year? I think he will do well and will have more chances to put the ball in the basket.
You play for Coach Cuonzo Martin, what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing that you ever learned from him? He taught me to be prepared both on and off the court. He is a players’ coach.
In February you scored 23 points in 56 minutes during a four-overtime win at Texas A&M. Where does that rank among the most exciting games of your career? It is way up there. It was a hard-fought game against a talented team.
In March you scored a career-high 35 points in a game at Georgia. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were “in the zone”? Definitely: some of my teammates were having a rough game, so I felt the need to do something offensively.
In the 2013 NIT you scored seven points in an eight point loss to Mercer, what did you learn from that loss that you think will help you this year? We just have to be ready to play at all times and cannot take any games off.
Last year you led your team in scoring, what is your secret for being a good scorer? I am always in attack mode. The key is to take good shots: anyone can take bad shots.