July 11, 2014
The following is a question and answer session from late June with sophmore Ryan Taylor as we caught up with #TheHerd's standout freshman. Taylor averaged 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in 31 games and recorded seven double doubles on the way to being named to the 2013-14 C-USA All-Freshman team.
Q: How is summer going thus far?
A: It is going well. There have been some changes, but I think they are for the better. The whole team just seems rejuvenated coming off a bad year last season. Everyone is just ready to get after it and get into the season with our first game.
Q: What has caused the energy boost?
A: I think the energy is coming from all over, coaching staff, returning players and new recruits. I just think it all is just adding more energy.
Q: What was the biggest surprise to you during your freshman season?
A: The tempo of how the game is played and the changes with how the games were officiated with fouls were different so I had to adjust.
Q: How did you handle the increase in traveling for games from high school to college?
A: At first my body got tired from the traveling, but towards the end (of the season) I got used to it and then I was fine.
Q: What did you think about the jump in competition levels?
A: It wasn't that big of a jump for me. There was a difference, but once I got used to it I was fine. Coming in I knew that at the college level things would be tough and it took a toll on me for a while, but after that I got used to it and I was fine.
Q: How do you plan on becoming better at staying out of foul trouble?
A: Now that I am used to how the refs will call the game I can just go out there and play how I want, while still staying aggressive on offense and defense.
Q: Looking back at your redshirt season, how did that help you before your freshman season?
A: I was able to grow in the weight room and in other ways before being thrown into the fire. Sitting out a year allowed me to see what our team and other teams normally run during the game. I was able to visualize how everything worked on the court before I got out there. It was hard to sit there and watch, but once I got onto the court I was happy and excited to play.
Q: What was the most challenging part of the 2013-14 season for you?
A: Probably when we got into the conference games and had to play home and away during the same weekend or have a long week with two road games. Traveling made things tiring and not being used to the games with it being my first year made my body tired, but I worked to keep up on it so I made it through it.
Q: What did the Conference USA Freshman of the Week and All-Freshman team honors mean to you?
A: I took it as a blessing and I was glad I was able to be playing as well as I was to get those honors with the coaches and Conference USA looking at me. I just tried to keep playing and see if I could get more, but overall it was a blessing. (The All-Freshman team honor) meant a lot more because it showed how I impacted the team during my freshman season with coaches recognizing it. That meant a lot to me and made me want to keep working hard.
Q: What would you say if you had to evaluate the things you did and didn't do well in your first year?
A: I could have done better at staying out of foul trouble and I could have played a lot harder in some of the games that we were down in. I lacked some energy at times and getting down early in games hurt us and mentally took us out of games at times. By the time we climbed back into certain games it seemed like we didn't really have anything left to give. For something I did well, I think I held my own for a freshman in a competitive league and it was a tough year for us, but I think I held my own in the games.
Q: What did you take from suffering multiple close losses last season?
A: It just makes me more mature with knowing the game better. This year I can use it to tell the team that we can't get down early in games and have to be more focused on the court.
Q: What are you working on improving this summer as an individual?
A: I have been focused on conditioning, losing weight and working on aspects of my game such as ball handling, three-point shooting and just trying to get better and stronger all around. Dropping weight will help me out on the court and off it when it comes to conditioning.
Q: Are these changes that coach D'Antoni suggested?
A: No, these are things that I noticed during last season in film that I knew needed to work on when I got a chance. It was something that my coaches in high school, prep school, coach D'Antoni and myself all noticed could be improved.
Q: Are you being asked to step up as a leader or have you taken it upon yourself?
A: A little bit of both actually. People are already looking at me to become a leader even though I am a sophomore, but they know I have the right skills to become a good leader. I took that on myself once we had Yous (Mbao) graduate and others leave because I think I have the skills to be able to be a leader for this team.
Q: What was your first thought when coach D'Antoni was announced as the new head coach?
A: I was excited because he has been coaching at a high level and he could push us to be great players as individuals, but also great together as a team. He knows the game and knows what it takes to be successful so I knew he would be able to drive us to be better and work us into improving.
Q: What are your thoughts on coach D'Antoni's system of play?
A: I like it a lot because it will get you ready for the next level and make us more competitive by using the pick-and-roll, kind of like the (2014 NBA Champion San Antonio) Spurs do.
Q: What are you expecting from yourself heading into the 2014-15 season?
A: I want to be a better ball player than I was last year and a bigger leader, which is a role I want to take on. Also, I plan on being more talkative during the game to make sure we are all playing together so we know what we can improve on in certain situations. All of that will hopefully result in me being named to the C-USA All-Conference team and maybe even being named C-USA Player of the Year.
Q: What should people expect from the team heading into the upcoming season?
A: At first it may take time for us to adjust to playing together as a team and in coach D'Antoni's system because we are still young, but after that we will be fine. Everybody wants to make the NCAA Tournament and go dancing, but I think we have a shot to do that this year.
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