Danny Granger Interview

Danny Granger Interview
Mar 01, 2005, 08:38 pm
Jonathan Givony: Hi Danny, thanks for taking the time to do this with us. How are you doing today?

Danny Granger: No problem man, I'm doing great, thanks for asking.

JG: First off, I just wanted to say congrats on that huge win against Utah the other night. How did it feel to beat a ranked opponent for the first time this season?

DG: Oh, it was a great feeling, the fans rushed the court and everything, it made news all over. It was a great win for us, especially with us not being a lock for second place in the conference; it really helped us with our tournament chances as well.

524New Mexico Basketball

JG: How did you feel about your individual performance?

DG: I think it was good. It was a little tough in the first half, I wasn't playing real well because I got three fouls early and I had to sit for most of the half, but Bogut had two fouls there as well so we were both kinda sitting out there in the first. But then in the second half I played alright. I shot 5-12, which is decent, not great, but I think that overall we played great team defense and that's what gave us the win.

JG: What were your impressions of Andrew Bogut? There's been a lot of talk about him in the national media, saying that he could be the #1 pick. Do you think he lived up to the hype?

DG: I dunno, he was missing a couple of easy shots. I think our center scored on him taking him one on one. I think he's a great player, he's so long. I don't know how athletic he is, but he's so long. I mean he's 7-1, you know what they say how you can't teach height. I don't know about being the #1 draft pick, but I think he's a really good player.

JG: Do you think you have a case to be Mountain West Conference player of the year?

DG: I think I do, it's obviously a choice between me and Andrew Bogut. His team is 11-1, and we're 7-4, but you need to take into account that three of the games we lost were when I was hurt, so it might have been a different story so you could make a good argument with that case, but with them having such a good record and being ranked nationally I think that he will get it.

JG: Where do you think you guys stand for the tournament right now? Do you think you have to win the Mountain West Conference tournament in Denver to do it? Or can you do it without that?

DG: From what I've been hearing and reading on places like your site and, if we win the last three games of our conference and make it to the finals of our conference tournament, even if we lose we should still get an at-large bid. But it depends on how the committee takes into account the fact that I got injured. That's going to be a really big factor because as soon as I went down we lost our next three games, and as soon as I got back we won six out of our next seven.

JG: Are you 100% now with your injury?

DG: Oh yeah, I'm fine. It wasn't a major injury, just a knee scope, it coined out on part of the meniscus, nothing really big. I'm 100% now.

JG: How much was the NBA in the back of your mind when you decided to sit out those three games?

DG: It was a little bit in the back of my mind, but I talked to a lot of people and they said that a scope like that isn't such a big deal, I should be back in this or that amount of time. It's not like a torn ACL or anything like that, it's a really minor injury. Some people sit out a week and a half, two and a half weeks, and they're back. It did bother me a little bit, but I didn't think it would cause me any harm in the long run so I didn't really worry about it. I also knew I would have so much time to heal and get better before the draft camps and individual workouts and stuff like that.

JG: Gotcha Danny. Changing gears do you follow the NBA at all?

DG: Oh yeah of course.

JG: Crazy day in the NBA today with all these trades any thoughts on who did well and who did not so well?

DG: Ohh I didn't even see it! What happened?

JG: Oh man, I don't even know where to start. Baron Davis got traded; Webber; Isiah took on about another billion dollars in salaries; a whole bunch of other things too. Nevermind, you'll catch up when you get home I'm sure. Do you have a favorite NBA team?

DG: Favorite team? Probably Miami.

JG: Miami?!? Why's that? Me too, I am from Miami.

DG: (laughs) Well that's the team I want to draft me.

JG: You want to play with Shaq, huh?

DG: Yeah, I would love to play with Shaq. I've always loved watching that guy play. He's so dominant man. Dwyane Wade too, I would love to play there.

JG: They could use a small forward too, someone who can play defense, feed the big guy and hit the open three. Seems like you would be a good fit.

DG: Right, right, I really wish they would draft me (laughs).

525New Mexico Basketball

JG: I read an article in the Albuquerque Journal or something the other day. They had Marty Blake there. You read it?

DG: Yeah I read it.

JG: He said that: Without the elite competition, Blake said, fans are getting an inflated view of the Mountain West Conference's biggest studs. He says that you're a great athlete, but don't let anybody tell you that you're a first-round pick. He says he's not saying you're not going to be a first-round pick, but there's going to be 26 Europeans with a lot of experience entering the draft this year, and you'll have five or six solid high school kids. LINK

Now, my eyes almost popped out when I read that the day after we got you to agree to do the interview with us. So is that hurtful to you? Or does that just give you more motivation to go out there and prove him wrong?

DG: No, that's not hurtful to me at all, because in the next paragraph he says that Andrew Bogut needs to stay in school. And most people think he'll be the number one pick. Then he's saying that's because he needs to learn to shoot the hook shot or something like that. Lemme ask you this: Marty Blake is the Scouting Director of the NBA, right?

JG: That's right.

DG: And he runs all these draft camps right? So I think it would be a lot more beneficial for him if more kids went to these camps like Portsmouth and Chicago, so it probably wouldn't make sense if he gave people like me an outstanding evaluation in the press, saying I would be a definite first rounder, how would that benefit him?

JG: So you got the invite to Portsmouth, do you think you are going to accept?

DG: Oh no, I'm not going... I won't be going.

JG: Why not?

DG: I just think from the people I talked to, I talked to my coach and he talked to a lot of people, and I don't think it would be beneficial for me to go.

JG: Yeah I can kinda understand that. It probably can't do much but hurt you to be honest at this point. But what about Chicago, would you go there if you were invited?

DG: Ummmm I am considering that one, but the chances are I mean I'll just go by my coach relays a lot of information that he gets from NBA personnel and different stuff like that. I don't know about Chicago yet. I'm not going to make a premature decision about that until I get some definite information from my coach about what's going on.

JG: Makes sense to make an informed decision. I do think it would be great to see all the seniors out there settling who the best player is the way they used to do, you know, on the court. Talking about guys like you, Joey Graham, Jawad Williams, Hakim Warrick, Wayne Simien, Aaron Miles, Ryan Gomes, etc. Do you think that if you all made a collective decision and said we're gonna go then that would influence your decision a little more? As opposed to being in a decision where two guys show up and five don't, and then the level of play drops and people start saying, oh well, why did those two players have to go? They must be in worse shape than those other five guys. I think it's frustrating to see what Chicago is becoming now. Not too long ago everyone used to play there. If you didn't go, you hurt your stock because it looked like you had something to hide. Does that sound unreasonable?

DG: No it doesn't. I think that if those names, the guys you just mentioned decided to go then I would go. Because I think that those guys are my main competition, especially at my position, so if they went then I would go too. I'll make the decision when the time comes.

JG: What do you think the scouts need to look out for at a camp like Chicago? What are some things that you feel that you need to prove to them? What's an aspect of your game that you think you are better at than what you get credit for?

DG: I think that as far as proving things to the scouts, I really don't play my game that way. I try to play the game the way that helps me and my team win basketball games. It's easy to go out there and show them that I have NBA range, that I can dribble between three people and then dunk it, but my focus is on helping my team win basketball games. One thing I really take pride in is my defense. Offense comes and goes, but my defense is always going to be there. That's probably one of the best parts of my game. If I'm being double teamed all game then I'm not going to try and score thirty in spite of that. I'll pass the ball to my teammate and make sure he gets twenty and we win the game. That's what I care about.

JG: So what do you think your biggest strengths and weaknesses are as a player? Let's say I'm writing a scouting report for Pat Riley and Randy Pfund on Danny Granger. What would I write there?

DG: In terms of strengths, I have a great jump shot, I have NBA range. My ball-handling skills are decent, and I think that one of my biggest strengths is the fact that I have the ability to lock up anybody. Especially at the end of a game. If you're my size, or a little smaller than me, or even bigger in some cases, I can really lock down on defense. The downside of playing in college sometimes is that my coach doesn't want me to pick up crazy fouls, he'll probably put me on their least skilled player, so I can stay in the game for my offense for as long as possible, but I am looking forward to the NBA where I won't have that problem. Another strength of mine is the fact that I'm a winner. I compete. I'm not in the game to cause any ankle injuries or score the most points or anything like that. I just try to win, because that's what I do.

JG: You know what really impressed me last time I saw you on TV a few weeks ago on ESPN? Your passing. I knew you could do a lot of other things from the times I've seen you play before, but I didn't know you had THAT in you. You were throwing up alley-oops from all over the place, feeding your big guy the ball in the paint, just making simple, efficient passes out of the double for the easy two. I thought that was very impressive.

DG: (laughs) Thanks. You know, when I was in high school, before I had my growth spurt, I was a guard. I think that's something that people overlook sometimes, my ability to pass. I'm an unselfish player. Even when we are being pressed, I can play the point to some degree. That's another thing I take pride in, being versatile in a lot of different areas.

523New Mexico Basketball

JG: Do you think you have the athletic ability and defense needed to play the two guard spot at times if needed?

DG: Oh definitely. I would love to show that too. I am constantly working on my game, I have a very good work ethic. My coaches are constantly helping me get better, so if they tell me I need to work on something, I'll do that. That's why I think that if my team needs me to play the two, it won't be a problem for me.

JG: So what's it like playing in the Pit, Danny? Is it really one of the toughest places to play in the nation? You gonna miss it?

DG: Oh man, it's great. I was just talking to Jay, our media director about that. I only have one game left, and it's kind of a shock. Because playing in the Pit, there's nothing like it. The way people treat basketball here, it's just phenomenal. To play in front of 18,000 fans like that, it's crazy.

JG: What is like being a student at New Mexico?

DG: (laughs) It's great man. Almost like being on an NBA team. Especially me, everyone knows my name, everywhere you walk around you get recognized, you get perks here and there. It's a great atmosphere to live in and play college basketball in.

JG: So would you consider this season a failure if you end up not making the NCAA tournament?

DG: Not necessarily a failure, but it would be disappointing for us as a team. We've been through a lot together, there's been some unfortunate circumstances throughout the year. I got injured, and then our five man got injured in a game against BYU that we should have won when I was down already. Our starting PG broke his foot, there were so many unfortunate things happening to us that it would just be great for us to end up in the tournament at the end. We won't look at it as a failure but it definitely is our foremost goal.

JG: I was looking at your bio up on New Mexico's website, and it says that you are a civil engineering major. That's gotta be a pretty tough major, no? I have a friend who's an engineering major, and man, he barely ever leaves the house.

DG: (laughs) Right before my senior year I switched it over to communications. Like you said, it was real hard. I wanted to focus a little more on basketball and not have to worry about designing houses and buildings and stuff like that. It takes up so much of your time that I had to switch it. But I only have about 12 or 14 hours to come back and get my civil engineering degree.

JG: Well great, there goes my next question. I was going to ask you whether you were going to consider working for NASA or something like that if basketball didn't work out for you. So much for that.

DG: (laughs) Actually, my sister works for NASA. In Santa Barbara, California. She's working on some satellite or something like that she told me. But she's a computer engineer.

JG: As a student athlete, how hard is it to juggle between classes and playing basketball with the practices and 2-3 games a week?

DG: It gets tough, but I'm a senior now so I know how to deal with it better. As a freshman and a sophomore it was real tough. I've gotten more used to it now, and we've got people here that help us out too.

JG: So who do you think are the 5 best players in college basketball right now? Give me your starting lineup.

DG: Five best players? Let's seeChris Paul is my PG. Myself of course, at SF. Andrew Bogut is my Center.

JG: So we got the 1, 3 and 5 covered nicely. You need a power forward now. You got a lot of options

DG: Gimme Wayne Simien at PF. Kansas.

JG: Not a bad choice. And at SG? This one's a little bit tougher.

DG: Shooting guard, shooting guard shooting guard. Ohhhh.

JG: Well you got McCants, Guillermo Diaz, I dunno, Dijon Thompson?

DG: Shooting guards are a lot taller in the NBA than they are in college, huh?

JG: They sure are. That's why if you show you can play the 2, your chances of going high just got that much higher.

DG: Oh, I know I can play the 2 Jonathan. For college, I would have to say McCants.

JG: Who do you think is the toughest matchup you ever had to guard in college?

DG: Toughest matchup would have to be Eric Williams from Wake Forest.

JG: What?!? You had to guard him? I feel sorry for you man. He's freaking huge.

DG: Just on a few occasions. He is huge, man. (laughs) The Wake Forest game, at one point, I was guarding Chris Paul, then I had to guard Eric Williams.

JG: Did you have any energy after that to play offense? I can only imagine that guy bumping into me.

DG: (laughs) That's what I'm saying. He is a beast. No way around that. Dude is huge.

JG: Well, did you have any success?

DG: Actually, I did OK. I finished that game with five blocks. I blocked his shot a couple of times, I had a few steals. I had a pretty decent game, finished with like 25 points, 9 rebounds, something like that.

JG: There's been a lot of talk lately about David Stern and the 20+ rule. You been following any of this?

DG: What is it?

JG: Well there was an article on ESPN saying that the players union and David Stern are pretty close to coming to some kind of agreement which would make it impossible for players to declare for the draft until two years after their high school class graduated. Not for this draft, but for next draft.

DG: What does that mean?

JG: That means there would be no high school players in next year's draft, or college freshman. No more 18 year old Europeans either. That also means that some of those guys could declare this year instead to get around that.
DG: WOW. I didn't know about that.

JG: Well yeah, I don't think it's a done deal yet, but the way they made it sound, it's pretty close. There have been rumors on that for a while and this is the first time we've actually read something about it so it's going to change the way this draft shapes up. So, I was going to ask you if you think this is a good idea. Would you support it if you were a player in the player's union?

DG: I think I would support it. Definitely. When a lot of these kids skip college and go straight to the NBA... there are so many things that I've learned in college, that have taught me a lot about life. Plus it has made me so much more of a complete player. I mean, unless you are a LeBron James or a Carmelo Anthony, there are a few prodigies, just aren't ready for that level. And I think it's a maturing process. You have 18 year old kids getting million of dollars they should really go to college first.

JG: So now on the other hand, you are hearing this now you must be thinking to yourself, damn, why isn't this rule in place already? You're the last ones!

DG: (laughs) Right?!? There are a lot of seniors this year. I really wish it was in place right now! (laughs).

JG: So what does the word upside mean to you Danny? You think you have it?

DG: Oh, I think I have a HUGE upside. I think as a player right now I'm good, but I have so much room to improve. And I know because if you look at my stats from my freshman year, to my sophomore year, to my junior year, I've learned so much about the game, and I'm still learning now. I'm in workouts with my coaches, and there are things they are teaching me that I haven't even done yet. I have some good moves in my arsenal right now, but there is just so much more for me to learn. And to be honest, that's kind of exciting for me, I haven't even scraped the surface on my full potential yet. There are certain things I know how to do, but I'm just not strong enough yet. But once I am you better watch out.

JG: Any player out there in the NBA that you think you resemble?

DG: Hmmm lemme think about that. Player I resemble, player I resemble, player I resemble

JG: Maybe a guy like Eddie Jones? Plays real good defense, maybe a little bit of a better shooter. Can handle a bit, doesn't complain, just does a whole lot of anything.

DG: Yeah, I can see that comparison. Actually I think I play a little like Joe Johnson, from Phoenix. He's like 6-7, 6-8 and he plays the point, he shoots it, he plays the 2 and the 3, so yeah, I think I can be a little like him.


JG: Did you watch the All-Star game? I'm not sure you want to shoot it the way he was shooting it in the three point contest

DG: No! We didn't get to watch it. We were practicing. I missed all of it, but I taped the slam dunk contest, just haven't had a time to watch it yet. Saw some highlights though, that was crazy!

JG: We interviewed Josh Smith last year on the site, he said something about competing in it. You got any slam dunk contest aspirations yourself?

DG: When I was in high school I won like three dunk contests. I think I could be in the dunk contest easily. My vertical isn't as high as, you know, LeBron, but I could hold my own.

JG: Do you guys measure your vertical leap in college? You have any idea what it is?

DG: Last time we measured was before this season started, I came out at 35 and a half inches. I think that I can do better than that though, at least 36 when I go to the draft workouts.

JG: So if you were an NBA GM, do you think there is anyone at your position that you would take over you?

DG: At my position? No.

JG: What about Marvin Williams?

DG: Marvin? You can probably give that to him based on his potential, I think he's got a lot of potential also. I've watched him play, and he really is amazing. The way they run with potential now, taking high school kids over the seniors he probably would go over me at the SF position.

JG: You ever gotten the chance to play with any NBA players before?

DG: Oh of course. You know the Tim Grgurich camp in Las Vegas? It's a camp where there are like 30 college players, and about 40 NBA players. So I went to one of those before my junior year, and I got to go up against guys like Rasheed Wallace, Jermaine O'Neal, Paul Pierce, Bonzi Wells, Baron Davis.

JG: How'd you stack up against them?

DG: I thought I did good! I kinda surprised myself even. That was over a year and a half ago, so I'm a better player now, but I thought that I held my own against them. I even blocked Baron Davis' shot when he was going up for a dunk! Yeah, that was a good experience for me.

JG: Well Danny, we really appreciate your time. Good luck with making the tournament and the draft this summer.

DG: Thanks. It was nice talking to you.

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