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Husky Men's Basketball

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

October 7, 2009 at 9:24 AM

Justin Holiday undergoes surgery

Ran into Justin Holiday this week. He had a very eventful summer that included a trip to the NBA draft, a summer in Los Angeles and hernia surgery. Yup. Surgery. He had it two weeks ago in Seattle. He’s still recovering and should return in time for most of training camp, but I’m not sure if he’ll be available for the first practice Oct. 16.
We talked about his injury and how he put up 1,000 shots a day this summer to improve a spotty jumper. Holiday is determined to expand his offensive repetoire and doesn’t want to be known as just a defensive stopper. This is a lengthy interview, but it’s insightful.
At the end, Holiday gives props to Tyreese Breshers and discloses his plan on how he’s going to carve out minutes in a lineup that’s loaded with talent.
(How was the NBA draft?) “It was a great experience. It’s something that I’m trying to get to and trying to experience for myself.”
(It had to be exciting for your brother Jrue [who was taken 17th by the Philadelphia 76ers] and your family?) “Yeah. We thought he should have went higher, but he got drafted so that’s all that really matters.”
(Did it surprise you when he announced he was entering the draft?) “No. He wanted to stay, but me personally, I wanted him to leave.”
(I didn’t see that coming.) “That was really just my opinion. He wanted to stay another year. My dad was telling me how he wanted to stay. My mom I guess wanted him to stay, but I thought he should go and give it a chance.”
(Has he talked to you about training camp?) “Yeah, but we don’t talk much about basketball. We try to talk about other things. Sometimes it’s about basketball here and there, but for the most part not really. He said it’s cool. It was okay. You have the vets who do what they want and the rookies have to do what they say.”
(Did you work out with Jrue this summer?) “I did a little bit. But he wasn’t there much.”
(You’ve heard this comparison for awhile, but in what ways are you two similar on and off the court?) “A lot of people say we act the same, but he might be a little more laid back. But it depends on the situation and who we’re with. … We’re similar because we both actually play defense real, real hard. We play to win and we do whatever it takes to win. Whatever that is, it really doesn’t matter. Whatever it takes, we’ll do it.
(When did defense become your forte?) “I think always. Maybe sixth grade. The team I played for, we used to focus a lot on defense in practice. A lot. We used to have a whole practice on defense and I just couldn’t wait to play defense.”
(Isn’t that a little unusual for 10-, 11- and 12-year olds to love playing defense?) “I thought it was normal. If you wanted to win, defense was something you had to do. Our whole team was a good defensive team.”
(How much pride do you take in shutting guys down?) “If you play defense, it means you want to win the game. If you put the effort in to want to play defense that tells me, you want to win because it’s not just about scoring. A lot of people can score, but not many people play defense. So I take a lot of pride in my defense. And at the same time, I take a lot of pride in my offense also. I take a lot of pride in my whole game. I just want to win.”
(Do you rate defenders around the country and in the Pac-10?) “Not really. The only defender I really think about his Venoy (Overton) or my brother. But I don’t really look at it like that. But I do look at people that can score. I look at people that I have to go against and that I have to stop.”
(It seems you can defend from 1-4.) “I can defend anybody. I’ve defended 7-footers. I can do it. I did it in high school.”
(I like your confidence, but not sure you can defend college 7-footers for long minutes.) “Obviously you’d want a big guy on a big guy like that, but I can do it. Maybe not for a half, but I can do it for a couple of possessions.”
(What would you like to do this year? For you? And then the team?) “Me personally, I guess I’d want this to be my breakout year offensively. A lot of people think I can’t play offense. A lot of people don’t understand my way of going about the game, but I want to be more of an offensive threat and still have my defense, which would make it a lot easier for everyone else. And for the team, we got to win. And play as a team. If we play as a team, then we’ll be fine.”
(Is it almost scary that your teammates are saying the goal is to make the Final Four?) “That’s what we want. If you’re a basketball player and you really love the game, you want the top, top awards. You want the top things to win.”
(Okay, but do you say it publicly?) “I really haven’t been asked that.”
(As players, do you guys talk about it?) “We talk about how we want to win the Pac-10 (title). We always (talk) about what we want to do. How we want to start practicing. Become a team. Start winning and having a good record in the preseason. Then win the Pac-10. Go back to the Pac-10 tournament and then go on from there.”


(Okay, let’s get into it. Did you work on your offense and if so how?) “Oh yeah. I worked on mid-range (shots) and threes. I’ve done it all. I’ve always have. It’s just the way I played in the past and the way I played here, you don’t really see it.”
(How difficult is it to change a reputation?) “I think you can, but I’m the type of person that don’t really care about that.”
(But it’s not like you have a bad reputation.) “I understand, it’s just I don’t really worry about it. I’m here trying to play for a team that wants to win. That’s all I want to do.”
(So to confirm, are we going to see you behind the arc hitting some 3s?) “Most definitely. Yes. You will.”
(Do your coaches know about this?) “We haven’t talked about it, but in the spring I was working out and doing a lot of shooting. And I was shooting at a high percentage, 71 percent. Just working on my jumper. I’ve had opportunities in the game, but I just didn’t do it.”
(Tell me about your summer workouts.) “At one point I was shooting 1,000 shots a day so it was 500 3s.”
(Who put your workout plan together?) “It changed from time to time because I had a sports hernia so I wasn’t able to do a lot of stuff. I was only able to shoot set shots. So when I first came back, we took it slow. I think I only shot 800. And then I got into a 1,000. It just came easy. That’s all I did every day. Some days, you know, you couldn’t get in there. I’m not going to say I shot every single day, but towards the end it got to a point where I felt better and where I could move. This was before I knew I had a sports hernia. I just had pain and I was told to keep resting it. So then I felt I could move a little better. After I would shoot 1,000 then I would take shots off the dribble.”
(So this happened when you were in Los Angeles?) “Oh yeah, I was in LA for that whole time.”
(How long where you in LA?) “I was down in LA the whole summer. When school ended, I was down in LA until we had to be back up here on (Sept.) 15th.
(Was it good for you to get away?) “I think it was good to get away, but I also missed my teammates. We’re a close team. But it was good to get home because I hadn’t seen my family or had a summer at home because I went to summer school my first two years here. And to experience the draft and see my brother get drafted.”
(How bad was the hernia?) “The type of person I am, I can take pain and tolerate pain really well. It was actually worse then what I even thought. At first I just thought … I saw doctors and things like that. They said just stretch more and rest and ice. So that’s what I did. But then when I got here in the fall, it was actually pretty bad.”
(How much longer is the recovery?) “I have about two more weeks.”
(Quincy [Pondexter] had a hernia, right?) “Quincy and Darnell also had it. Darnell (Gant) had it his first season.’
(Is there an epidemic or somthng?) “With mine, they call it a sports hernia, but the thing is … under your abs you’re supposed to have a wall there and I just didn’t have a wall there.”
(Did you have surgery?) “Um-hmm.”
(When?) “Wednesday, two weeks ago.”
(Were you scared or surprised when they told you the diagnosis?) “The whole summer I was thinking it had to be something worse then what they were saying. But my parents were like no it’s not. I was worried that it was serious, but then I thought maybe not. But then I got here and I was like okay it might be serious. By the time surgery came, I was already prepared for the worse.”
(Were you scared?) “Yeah. A little bit.”
(Will the surgery fix it?) “Yeah. It’s supposed to.”
(Did you have the surgery in Seattle?) “Um-hmm.”
(So how did the hernia affect your summer workouts?) “The thing that bothered me at first was running. Then it came to like cutting and stuff. But shooting was okay.”
(So are you more comfortable as a spot-up shooter or coming off screens?) “It’s wherever I can get my shot off. I don’t really play basketball like that. Like in high school, I came off picks and I shot. But it depends on the team and who’s in and who’s doing what. Like say if Isaiah (Thomas) is penetrating, then you can spot up and shoot. Or I can go run the offense, come off a pick, then I’m open and I’ll shoot.”
(It would seem you could get a lot of offense just from running the court with your quick guards.) “Yeah. That’s what I do. Really. I can score by getting the ball and trying to force things, but I’m the type of person where I like running and being in the open court. It’s easy points. Why not? I like to do that.”
(To be clear, are you concentrating more on perimeter shooting or running the court?) “It’s not like that when you’re playing. I just work on several things. I’m always looking to win. That’s always going to be my focus. But you got to work on different parts of your game.”
(Are you any bigger?) “Actually, I am. I weigh about five more pounds. During the summer, I was about 180 and I was weighing about 175 or 170 when I was here (last season). I’ve been trying to hard to gain weight. And I’m still trying.”
(I talked to Darnell about this. He said he’s forcing himself to eat.) “I thought about setting my alarm to maybe wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning just to eat. … I really can’t hold weight. I wasn’t really running this summer, so when I start running again it comes off.”
(Who has been the biggest surprise?) “I really wouldn’t say surprise, but who I like a lot it would be Tyreese (Breshers). He’s real good. You know like how they say our guards are quick, he’s really quick. A quick big guy. Is he completely healthy? I’m not sure. But he’s real good.”
(How are you going to get minutes?) “For me, the defense is going to be there, so just being able to show that I can knock down open jumpers and penetrating will get me more minutes.”
All for now.

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