Had a chance to sit down and talk to Andrew Andrews before he took off to join a Pac-12 all-star team that traveled to China to play four exhibitions. The games begin Wednesday in Shanghai.
The Washington junior guard, who averaged 12.3 points and 3.9 rebounds last season, highlights a squad that features Washington State guard DaVonte Lacy, Utah forward Jordan Loveridge and Colorado forward Xavier Johnson.
The other members of the team include: Arizona State guard Bo Barnes, Oregon State guard Malcolm Duvivier, Arizona guard Jacob Hazzard, USC forward Nikola Jovanic, California forward Roger Moute a Bidias, Oregon State center Cheikh N’diaye, Utah center Jeremy Olsen, Stanford center Schuyler Rimmer and Utah guard Brandon Taylor.
Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak will lead the all-star delegates on the 10-day trip.
The team trained three days in San Francisco this weekend.
Here’s a look at team’s itinerary.
Sunday – Depart for Shanghai, China
Monday – Arrive Shanghai, China
Wednesday – Game 1 vs. Chinese University All-Stars (Shanghai)
Thursday – Game 2 vs. Jiangsu Dragons or Shanghai Sharks (Nantong)
Friday – Pac-12 Academic Symposium
Saturday – Game 3 vs. Shanghai Sharks (Shanghai)
Aug. 17 – Youth clinic at the Yi Jianlian Basketball Camp
Aug. 18 – Game 4 vs. Guangdong Southern Tigers (Shenzhen)
Aug. 19 or 20 – Depart for United States
And here’s the Q&A with Andrews.
(Ever been to China?) “No I haven’t. This is my first time.”
(How did this happen and how did you find out you were picked to the team?) “After the season, (UW coach Lorenzo Romar) called me and he told me they were selecting members for the China team and if I wanted to put my name in for it. They wanted to select a person from each team and he asked me if I wanted to do it and I said yeah of course. … Before they made the announcement, we were talking about summer school and I was talking about some summer school classes I was taking and he turned to me and he kind of just told me. You know how he is. He was like, well I don’t think you’re going to be able to do summer school. I thought I was in trouble. I said why? And then he told me I was selected. I called my mom because they’ve been asking me a bunch of questions ever since I told them I was nominated for it. I told them and they were all screaming and just excited. It hasn’t really hit me, but I think it will hit me when we’re on the plane. I talked to (Washington State’s DaVonte Lacy) and we’re trying to be roommates. We kind of just discussed it a little bit. So yeah, I’m excited to go.”
(Sounds as if this was important to you and if so, why?) “Just because it’s a way to experience another level of play. You get to go somewhere that you’ve never been. And I loved our experience when we went on the European tour and when we went to Africa. We didn’t get to play in Africa, but it was still a great experience.”
(What would you like to get out of this trip?) “Probably just as you said (learning) about the culture. I know things will be different from what they are over here. Then also just competing. I think it’s good to compete against all players. Nowadays everything is international so just competing at every level is pretty good. Then also playing against and with a few member of the Pac-12. It’s always good.”
(How do you think that part will go. Obviously you know a few of the guys. You’re competitors with most, but as you said you’re also friends with Lacy. So is this a fact-finding trip to learn a bit about guys you’re going to be playing against or is it different than that?) “I think everyone is going to go into from the first day of practice to come into and just go at people. I think that’s the way it should be. And then once we put on the same jersey we become that team unit. I think the first couple of days we’re just going to be like ‘Well I’m from this school and I’m going to try to represent my school and we’re better than you guys and this and that.’ But once you put on the same jersey, we’re all the same team and that’s just going to make our chemistry better.”
(Who are the guys on the team that you’re close to?) “Probably the closest of course would be DaVonte. I don’t really know too much of the other guys that well. I haven’t really looked over the roster that well. I know Xavier Johnson is on the team. (David Kravish) is on the team. (Tyrone Wallace) was on the team, but I don’t know what happened. Brandon Taylor and (Jordan Loveridge). Those would probably be the group that I talk to and get to know the best.” [Editor’s note: Kravish and Wallace were replaced on the all-star team.]
(Any pressure to win or play well individually and as a team?) “Individually yeah I put that pressure on myself to play well. You’re always looking to get better so you never want to take a step back. I think I put that pressure on myself to play well and hopefully win. As a team yeah. Definitely the pressure is to win. We’re representing the conference right now and we’re representing our schools so we don’t want to come back and say we lost to the Chinese teams.”
(Any lessons you can take from your trip overseas last year that might help you?) “My first advice for people who haven’t played over there would be to watch out for travel and things like that. The way they dribble was kind of weird. We traveled probably 30 times in one game because you can’t the ball and take that step. You have to catch and dribble real quick. So it’s weird and it’s hard to get adjusted to. Also we kind of have that thing of we’re from the United States so we deserve this and we deserve that. But when you go over there none of that matters. It’s just basketball. So that will be the biggest part. Just going over and playing basketball.”
(I also hear getting used to the different rebounding rules takes an adjustment.) “Yeah. They can get it off the rim. You can go and get everything and I’m probably sure they have some tall people who are good at that. Right when it hits the rim, they can knock it off. Shooting a free throw. When it hits the rim, they can knock it out.”
(What are you working on this summer?) “A little bit of everything. I’m working on my defense a lot. Just making sure I stay defensively disciplined throughout the course of the game. And I do that by strengthening my legs and strengthening my conditioning. Better ball handling of course. Better shooting of course. Probably just more of a mental approach. Taking on a bigger role with this team. Being a bigger leader on this team now that (C.J. Wilcox) is gone.”
(I was just going to go there. Who replaces C.J.?) “I think right now we have a good group and it’s just well-rounded. I feel like as far as playing wise and playing time, I feel like I’ve been here the longest since (Jernard Jarreau) was out last year that really has the on-court experience. So myself, (Nigel Williams-Goss) of course and Jernard even though he tore his ACL he’s going to be coming back strong and he’s been working really hard. (Mike Anderson) is outspoke is really tough and has a really good motor. We have a lot of pieces that can chip in here and there so collectively as group we’re strong.”
(I’m guessing you’re going to be voted a captain so do you think that will change things for you? And by that I mean, do you change your daily routine?) “I talked a little to Romar last year about that because I was captain this year along with C.J. and (Perris Blackwell). Just taking on that role and kind of just watching how they would do things and just set the example for everybody. I was a captain, but it was kind of just C.J. and Perris because they were the older guys. I just feel like now it just takes that work ethic to the next level. You can’t be a captain if you’re the one not doing all the reps or if you’re the one who’s taking plays off and things like that. So think this year with me being one of the oldest on the team that I’ll have to take that step forward and do everything.”
(Have you figured out where things went wrong last season?) “I did that and it’s kind of been consistent from the last couple of years that I’ve been here. I think it was consistency. We had spurts where we played really, really well and it would be like oh who is this team? And then we had times when we played really, really bad and it felt like like these aren’t the Huskies. I feel like that is a mental state. We weren’t never really and fully mentally stable from the standpoint of going out and competing every single day. Once we won a couple of games, we would kind of let that sink in and get to us. I think that was a big part of it. A big, big part.”
(Now that you’ve had some time to think about it, what happened to you personally at the end of the season that allowed you to turn things around?) “I think it just got to a point to where we were on the edge of being a good team or being a bad team so I felt like I needed to step up. I started taking more shots after practice and a little bit before practice. Everything started to click. I started talking to Romar a little more. Me and him had a few meetings. We talked about things. I think that was probably the biggest part. Just taking on a bigger role for myself. Not really trying to do too much. Just letting the game come to me. I felt like at the beginning or towards the middle of the season when I was hitting those rough patches, I was trying to do too much because I knew people were pressuring C.J. So I was getting a little bit out of my game.”
(Was that the best you’ve ever played?) “Collegiately yes. By far.”
(But you’ve played better in your career?) ‘The competition in college is much different, but I want to say it wasn’t probably better than I was playing in high school if you took the competition out. I probably shot pretty well in high school.”
(Million-dollar question, how do you carry that end-of-the-season stretch over into the next question? Some will say, last season is last season. However, I’ve seen guys like Quincy Pondexter use a strong finish at the end of the season to springboard them into an amazing year the next season.) “Just work ethic. If you work on your game, you expect to see results. That’s all I can pretty much do. I’ve been working hard this summer in the weight room. I’ve been working hard in the gym. So I think that will carry me over into next season.”
(We talked after the game, but tell me again about your physical condition in the Pac-12 Tournament opener?) “It got to a point to where I was throwing up the whole day and whole night, but I wanted to still play. Then we got to a a point in the morning when we ate breakfast. I didn’t eat because I couldn’t eat. When we got to the game I was still kind of woozy so I had to take an IV. After the IV, I felt stronger but I knew I wasn’t myself so I just went out there and tried to play. Give it my all I guess.”
(How has the team been this offseason?) “Really focused. There hasn’t been a time when I’ve been in the gym and haven’t seen at least 4-5 people in there shooting and working out. In the weight room everyone has been working really, really hard. We’ve all made major gains in the weight room. Nigel is getting stronger. (Darin Johnson) is getting really strong. (Jahmel Taylor) is getting strong. Mike is getting strong. Everybody is getting strong. Since I’ve been here it’s probably the most focused that I’ve seen the team.”
(Who has surprised you the most?) “I would definitely have to say Jernard. Even though he’s not playing, with that type of injury and to see his motivation and will to get back is amazing. He’s still working on this game and doing little things even though he can’t do much. But seeing what he’s doing during his rehab every single day. He’s shooting at a standstill and working out and lifting. It’s kind of just motivating for all of us because he’s going through so much right now and he’s putting that extra time in.”
(Is Jarreau the lynchpin next season? I ask because he missed last season with the injury. It’s speculative to say if he was there, then everything would have been better because we don’t really know. Now he’s back so how would you describe his role and potential impact on the team?) “I think Jernard plays a huge role. He’s 6-10 or 6-11 and he has the skill set of a guard. Anytime you have a player with that type of ability, he’s going to be in the game. He’s gotten weigh stronger. I think he’s up to 240 (pounds) right now. And he still has his skill set so I think he’s going to be a big part of what we do.”
(Did it surprise you that Williams-Goss considered turning pro?) “Not at all. I’ve known Nigel since I was young so that’s always been a goal of his. When you’re that close to your goal, why not see? Why not look at your options? Anytime you’re doing something and you have a goal, why not look and see how close you are to it?”
(What does Darin Johnson need to do to take the next step?) “I think Darin just needs to mature. He’s real young. He has a ton of potential so I think with him, it’s just growing into his body a little bit more and getting a little bit more stronger. Then I think from there, the sky is the limit.”
(What do you need from your front line next season?) “I think the best thing we can get from our front line is rebounding and scoring. I think Jernard will help tremendously with that. (Shawn Kemp Jr.) will help us tremendously next year. He’s been getting stronger and he’s been working out everyday trying to make that next and final push for himself. So think they’ll be big.”
(What are reasonable expectations for the Huskies?) “Reasonable expectations?”
(By the way, I asked Romar that question and I think he jokingly took exception with the phrasing ‘reasonable expectation.’) “For me, making it back to the NCAA tournament. I personally want to go into the Pac-12 Tournament with the 1 or 2 seed. That’s just my personal goal and I think we’re capable of doing that especially if we keep improving at the pace we’re at right now.”