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GN: If you were to give yourself a grade for your performance your freshman and sophomore years, what would it be, and why? What areas do you feel you did best at?
SM: That would be hard for me to do because I think that the first few years have been sort of up and down, to be honest. I have played well at times during both seasons, and I have struggled at times both seasons. That’s why this year my biggest focus is my consistency. I feel like I am fairly good in a few areas, but that I am a good passer from the high post and that I try to play hard when I am on the court. I also think that I am a fairly good team player.
GN: As with any college player, there is always improvement needed. What aspects of your game are you working hardest at improving during this off-season, and do you think you’re making good progress? Any specific drills that you do to help these aspects?
SM: One thing that I have always had to work on, and still do, is making sure that I stay in the weight room during the summer time. I feel like I have done a good job of this since I have been here, especially considering that I was really skinny in high school. This summer was no different, and Mike Nilson did a good job of making us stronger. I also just tried to get more shots up and stay in a little better shape. I know that as a team this year, defense and conditioning are probably going to be the two areas that we work on the most.
GN: As an observer it seemed your game as a redshirt freshman was very post-oriented using nifty low block post moves to score and you seemed to get away from the low post as a sophomore. Is this an accurate observation, and if so, why the change? Is getting back into the paint an objective for your future years?
SM: The thing about last year is that we had two really dominant low post players in JP and Ronny. They were probably some of the best low post players in the entire nation and they take up a lot of space down there. My coaches felt that I could probably be more effective for the team from the high post because those guys are so good down there, and also because I have a good set of skills from the high post in terms of being able to pass, shoot and set on-ball screens for our guards. I think that this year with Ronny gone I will see a little more time in the low post, but I also think that my coaches want me to make sure my shot from the high post is consistent and that I continue to work on my game from up there. I can score in the lost post though, and I do think that it will happen more often this year.
GN: What are your personal goals your junior year, and what do you think this team is capable of doing this coming season, and why?
SM: My personal goal for next year is to be a major contributor for us. I have contributed in the past, but I know my team needs me more this year. I don’t really look at things in terms of statistics or selections to post-season teams. I think that if you think like that, it takes away from being the best team player possible. I honestly believe our team can go to the Final Four this year. I think we have a solid core of guys and we have some really talented guys coming in. We also have a bad taste in our mouths regarding the last couple of NCAA tournaments. I think that another thing we have going on is that we enjoy being around each other and enjoy playing basketball together.
GN: Tell us about your studies. What’s your major, or majors, and how are you doing overall in the classroom? What has been the toughest class you’ve taken your first three years at Gonzaga, and what made it so tough? Conversely, what has been your most favorite, enjoyable class?
SM: When I came to Gonzaga I had no idea what I wanted to major in so I tried a little bit of everything. I finally decided on political science as my major and history as my minor. The thinking behind this is that I eventually want to go to law school at some point and this is a popular major/minor combo for students who want to go to law school. I am doing fairly well in class and have a GPA of around 3.3. I was an Academic All-American last year as well. The hardest classes I’ve taken at Gonzaga would probably have to be the math classes and the science class that I have taken because those really are not my strong points. I took enough math and science for my requirements to be fulfilled and that is it for me. I will probably never take another math or science class again. I have enjoyed most of my political science classes, and my favorite was probably a class about church and state issues in the US. I have also enjoyed most of the English classes that I have taken.
GN: When you’re not in the gym or classroom, what do you do for recreation or fun? What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently and what CD is in your CD player right now?
SM: During the season we don’t have a ton of free time, but in the off season I like to hang out with my friends for the most part. A bunch of my friends have lake cabins so it is always fun to go out there as much as possible. I also like to go to movies and go out and do things that most college kids do. One of the funniest movies that I’ve seen is “The 40-Year Old Virgin.” It’s one of those guilty pleasure type movies. I also saw “Cinderella Man” earlier in the summer and I thought it was really well done. “Sin City” is another good one. I mostly just play music off my computer or IPod, but I have been listening to a lot of Pearl Jam lately because they have been my favorite band since the fourth grade and I am going to see them in a few days at the Gorge, which I am pretty excited about.
GN: Finally, what has been the high point thus far in your Gonzaga career, what has been a low point, and how much do you weigh now and how much stronger are you now compared to when you were a frosh?
SM: I would say my high points have been winning 2 WCC tournaments, beating Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State this year. As far as low points, I’d say losing to Stanford my freshman year, St. Mary’s this year, and obviously the early exits from the tournament. And also, I almost forgot, getting destroyed by Illinois. I am a lot stronger now than when I first arrived at Gonzaga. I played my senior year of high school at 195 lbs. I am now at about 225 lbs. and have gotten up to 235 lbs. at one point. I am much stronger now, but it is still something I continue to work on.