Here’s video of an interview with Shawn Kemp Jr. before Saturday’s practice. The senior forward talks about Washington’s game against California on Sunday.
He also gives his thoughts about losing teammate Robert Upshaw and his new responsibilities without the 7-foot shot-blocking center.
Here’s the transcript.
(On things being different without Upshaw) “Yeah it was a very sudden change. Not just for the team, but for everybody. I was just starting to get used to playing the four full time because of Jernard (Jarreau) being out, but I’m back to the five. It’s nothing I can’t do. It’s new, but you know.”
(On anything being new) “Not much. I still try to have the four spot-mindset. But that’s nothing I can’t change in practice.”
(On last few days in practice) “We’ve definitely made improvements. Rob was a big part of our team. He helped our defense a lot, but we still have a chance to do it without him. We switched up our defense so that we can pretty much succeed. So our defense is definitely going to be different.”
(On concentrating on dribble penetration) “Yesterday in practice was one of those days we focused on something just like that. If the guy gets in the middle we got to be able to stop him because we really don’t have that shot blocker. So we have to really work on cutting that drive off every time.”
(On rebounding versus running the floor) “I got a job to rebound more. I feel like I got to rebound way more. But I can definitely still run the floor as good as I do because that helps our team a lot. That opens up the floor.”
(On pressure to produce) “There is more pressure than there usually is because right now, like I said, Jernard is out. I feel like I’m the only big even though we have Gilles (Dierickx). He doesn’t really play that much so I feel like I have an extra job to do as much as I can in the middle.”
(On handling the pressure) “I talk to our guards. I tell them that I’m the only big down there. They feed me when I’m open. I just got to do what I can. It’s unfortunate what happened, but I’m the only big out there. It’s not like I can give up. I got to play hard. Play as hard as I can.”
(On last time in this position) “It feels a little bit like high school. I was pretty much the only big on the team. And I played the whole, entire game. It’s a lot better competition out here, but it does feel like high school.”
(On being one of the most important players) “At first it feels like a lot of pressure. At first I thought this is going to be a lot, but after thinking about it I love to play this game. I love challenges. This is just another day for me. I love coming to practice. We’re going to be able to pull it out. We had a rough first game back (84-74 loss to Stanford on Wednesday), but I feel like if I do what I need to do, the whole team will come together and we’ll be able to do what we need to do.”
(On UW career) “Up and down. I’d say up and down. I had a lot of things happen. A lot of things I wish I could not have happened. But they did and I couldn’t really change them. But I feel like this year for me has been a really good year. I feel like I’ve made up for a lot of the past years.
(On his health) “Oh, I’m good. Real good. Feel OK.”
(On staying positive despite front court losses) “It definitely feels like that. I’ve probably said the same thing a few times, but it’s to the point to where you can’t really do anything about it. You just got to keep playing. So try to keep a positive mindset and just go on the court and do as much as I can. I know I can’t do everything what all three of us could have did, but if I do what I can – as hard as I can – then I feel like I’ve done my job.”
(On teammates’ support) “Oh yeah. Sure yeah. Especially with Jenard hurt and Rob. They see that I’m the only big man down there. So they understand.”
(On last game against Cal) “We got hurt on turnovers so that’s one thing we need to work on. But I felt like they hurt us with their guards. Their guards really hurt us, but if we lock their guards up we’ll be fine.”
(On Cal’s David Kravish scoring early) “Yeah he did. We’re going to be able to stop him. We’re going to be able to stop him.”
(On being the only big man when most teams have two) “It’s going to be a rough game, but I feel like we’re going to be able to pull this one out.”