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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

September 30, 2009 at 9:31 AM

Darnell Gant discloses hip injury and what he learned from Jon Brockman

Had a chance to sit down with Washington power forward Darnell Gant last week. In this wide-ranging interview, we talked about how overcoming a stress fracture in his left hip allowed him to put on more weight and his expectations this season.
And I asked the obligatory question about replacing Jon Brockman and his thoughts on the new guys? Again, rather lengthy, but it was my first chance to really talk with Gant who I think will take big strides this season.
(How much do you weigh?) “I’m between 225-230 now.”
(What weight did you play at last season?) “215. Between 210-215.”
(How did you gain the weight?)Matt Ludwig is our trainer and since he got here he’s been trying to force me to eat. That’s all my coaches used to talk about with me was gaining weight. We didn’t really get along at first because I couldn’t stand them forcing me to eat and all that stuff, but it finally started clicking. I took some time when I had to sit out during the spring because of my hip, I just started eating a lot. Then I had to sit out, not really sit out, but I had to sit out sometimes and play during the summer. So I had to learn how to manage my weight and play at the same time. It kind of got helpful. It kind of got efficient and I started gaining more weight and be able to play and run with it too.”
(So what did you eat?) “Pizza and pasta. Basically everything. Everything I could find, I’d eat it. But I did a lot of hard work in the weight room. Even though I sat out during the whole spring last year (actually 2009), I really lifted hard and tried to get extra lifts in and do all kinds of stuff like that.”
(It looks like it paid off.) “When (former assistant Cameron) Dollar was here he used to always tell me that I really needed to get bigger. If I get bigger and be able to play at a certain weight, I could do some good things. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”

(Why weren’t you able to play during the spring?) “I had a stress fracture in my hip. During the Mississippi State game I had already had a hip problem that was bothering me. Then when I fell, at one point I fell, and it made the problem worse. So when I came back in the spring and I tried to play, it was hard for me to walk. So the doctor suggest I sit out for six weeks.”
(How is it now?) “It’s better.”
(Did you have surgery?) “Nah it didn’t have to have surgery. I needed to rest and not to play on it.”
(Right or left?) “Left.”
(Did it set you back at all?) “I don’t think so. Because like I said, I got in the weight room. I got to eat more. And I worked on my jumper, so I knew when I came back that I wouldn’t be that far off. I would just have to get back in shape and it was hard to get back in shape because I gained so much weight that I had to learn how to manage my weight and be able to run and stay conditioned at that weight.”
(What did you learn from last year?) “How to stay poised. How to be more mature on the floor. Playing behind (Jon) Brockman and JD (Justin Dentmon) they know how to handle themselves in tough situations and I’m trying to learn how to handle myself in tough situations with the team and trying to step up and be some type of leader. I’m not saying I want to be a captain, I’m just saying I need to be a vocal point because I’ve been here the longest as well as (Justin) Holiday, Matthew (Bryan-Amaning) and Venoy (Overton). So I take it upon myself to make myself a vocal point.”
(What would you like to do this season?) “For the team, I want to be a defensive stopper. I want to be able to lock guys down on defense. Be able to guard multiple positions and be able to knock down that 17-foot jumper with consistency. And rebound. I really need to rebound.”
(How much did work this summer on that short to mid-range jumper?) “All summer. All spring when I was able to shoot. Even though I wasn’t able to play durinig the spring, I still shot free throws and I still got some jumpers up.”
(Last season it seemed as if you’d start games hitting a 10-footer then we’d never see you again. Why?) “Yeah that’s about accurate. I’d hit one of my first jumpers and then I’d keep shooting and I’d be missing and I’d probably wouldn’t hit another jumper until the second half. But I doubt if it will be like that this year. I’m shooting with more confidence now. I should have been shooting last year with that type of confidence, but I didn’t but that’s in the past now and now I’m looking at the future and I’m shooting with more confidence.”
(What happened this summer to give you that confidence?) “Nothing. Just me getting in the gym extra. Just me working on my jumper. I knew then like I know now that I could make the jumper. It’s just all about repetition, muscle memory and all of that stuff. And I wasn’t really getting in the gym as much as I should have on working on my jumper. This summer I really took some time to get good shots up and work as hard on my jumper as I could.”
(Are you a 4 or 5? Or does it even matter in this scheme?) “In this offense it doesn’t really matter because we just play the 5-spot. We can go big or we can go little and it doesn’t really matter. Mostly everybody can guard multiple positions on the team.”
(Do you like having another big in the post with you as opposed to be three-guard lineup?) “I like having a big out there because in high school, I played with my back to the basket a lot. But in college I haven’t a lot and that’s because I consider myself a mismatch problem. So if I get a smaller dude on me, then I can play with my back to the basket. If I get a bigger dude, I try to go around him. So in this offense, when I got people like Matt or Tyreese (Breshers) or when Jon played – they played with their backs to the basket and they were the ones that were banging – I’m the guy that can be the outlet and take my game outside and knock down a shot or two.’
(With so many marquee big men in Pac-10 having graduated, do you see yourself stepping into the void?) “I hope so. Since all the big names have graduated it’s an opportunity for players like myself, Matthew and other people like at UCLA (Drew) Gordon and all of them guys to prove themselves as the same caliber as the ones that just graduated.”
(Did you see last week when your coach said in an ESPN story that you’re starting again this season?) “Oh really. I really don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff. I just try to do what I’m asked to do. And for myself, I try to do more and try to take that 150 percent instead of just going 100 at it. Just go as hard as I can at it. Starting is really not an issue for me. Last year, I wasn’t worried about that. It just so happened that I was starting. I embraced that role, but it’s not like a big deal to me like since I’m not starting I’m not going to play as hard. I’m going to go hard at all times during the game.
(How did you become a starter?) “It was after the scrimmage game when we played Wyoming. I talked to coach (Jim) Shaw and he came up to me and he was asking me was I ready for the game because it was my first official game since my redshirt year. And he was like coach is thinking about starting you. And yeah, it was on my mind. I was kind of nervous about it, but I just had to do the best I could at it and it just so happened I started the whole year.”
(How do you replace Brockman?) “I look back on how Jon did it and you know, everythign doesn’t have to be the same. We don’t have the same leadership. Jon was a major vocal point on the team, but I see team as different. We don’t really need one guy saying what to do. And one guy telling us that we need to get it together. With this team it seems like everybody does that. Everybody rallies together. In our workouts, everything is a competition. We make everybody better by doing that, by competing day in and day out. So when we get out on the floor, it’s going to be nothing to us because we’re so used to doing it everyday.”
(Can you give me a scouting report on the new guys.)Abdul (Gaddy) is a good facilitator. He’s a good passer. He knows the game and he’s going to be something special in a couple of years. Right now he just needs time to learn the system and learn how the coaches need him to play defense. Most freshmen when they come in they don’t really think about defense a lot and with this school, with this program that can be a problem because they really stress defense. And the same with the others. Clarence (Trent) he’s learning how to talk more. He’s getting better at defense, but it’s going take him awhile because our system is really hard to remember everything. There’s so many different things that we have to remember. It shuts down other things that you usually do because you’re trying to remember what you’re supposed to do. And C.J. (Wilcox) is the same. Basically for all of them, they just have to adjust. They got the skills, you can see it in them, but they have to get adjusted to the system and learn everything and buy into what we’re trying to do as a team.”
(How good can this team be?) “This team can be good.”
(How good?) “Very good. I don’t want to say we’re going to do this or that, but I think the team can be very good if the whole team buys in just like we did last year. If the whole team works hard day in and day out over and over, like getting in the gym, which is what we’ve been doing. If everybody works extra, get extra shots up, get one-on-one (with coaches), if we continue to do that, we can be a great team.”

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, top 25


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