Tourney Talk: CHD sits down with Miami player Kenny Kadji

Miami beat North Carolina yesterday in the ACC tourney title game to earn an automatic bid to this week’s NCAA tournament. The Hurricanes made the NIT in 2012, but bounced back in 2013 to claim the school’s first NCAA tourney bid in five years. Earlier today Jon Teitel got to speak with Kenny Kadji about what it feels like to win the ACC tourney for the 1st time in school history.

You were born in Cameroon: how did you 1st get into the sport of basketball? Once I started growing taller I got better at it, and I fell in love with the sport while it was becoming big in Europe.

You transferred to Miami from Florida, why did you decide to transfer, and does making the tourney validate your decision? I just wanted a new start after having very high expectations at Florida even though I was not ready to contribute as a freshman. Going to the tourney makes it all worth it.

You played 11 minutes in a loss to Minnesota in last year’s NIT.  What did you learn from that loss that you think can help you this time around? The Gophers were a Big 10 team that had a lot of physical players, so we have tried to get more physical ourselves.

Durand Scott missed six games at the start of the season due to a suspension and Reggie Johnson missed eight games earlier this year due to a broken thumb:  how has your team been able to be so successful despite not playing at full-strength for most of the year? We are a veteran team that has learned how to deal with adversity. We had some players miss time last year, so we know how to handle that.

You have beaten a bunch of tourney teamsthis year (Michigan State, La Salle, North Carolina, Duke, NC State): which one impressed you the most? Michigan State always plays well and had a great run in the Big 10, and you know that a Tom Izzo team will always be ready.

Shane Larkin was named conference tourney MVP, what makes him such a great player? Shane is a great point guard who has great vision and makes great decisions. He is unstoppable when he is attacking the basket.

You won the first ACC title in school history by beating North Carolina yesterday.  What did it mean to you to win the title, and what was the reaction like when you got back to campus? Winning the ACC tourney for the first time means everything. We had about 2000 fans here waiting for us, and everyone was cheering in recognition of all our hard work.

Jim Larranaga was named ACC coach of the year.  What makes him such a good coach, and what is the most importantthing that you ever learned from him? He has been coaching for so long that he has been through every possible scenario we might face. He knows how to motivate and read people, and is a very upbeat teacher.

You play Pacific in Austin on Friday, what do you know about the Tigers, and were you disappointed that you did not get a #1-seed? We do not know anything about Pacific yet, but I am sure we will watch some filmtomorrow after a day off today. Every team in the tourney is good, so we have to be ready to guard whoever we play.Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 4.03.02 PM