Kyle Weaver Interview
By Aran Smith
Aran Smith: Your big 24 point win over USC, ended a three game losing streak at home. A streak that seemed unfathomable before the season. Were you and your teammates beginning to worry things were reverting back to pre-2006 form?
[img_assist|nid=3480|title=Kyle Weaver - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=428]Kyle Weaver: Oh no. I don't think me and the teammates ever got worried that we would fall into a slump. We've been together for too long and been through too much to ever let it get to that point. I'm pretty sure that my teammates had confidence in me and each other to get a win like we did against USC.
You outplayed OJ Mayo in a head to head match up holding him to 14 points on 6-15 shooting, shooting 8-8 and going for 17. Is the national media beginning to fully recognize your talent?
I hope so. (laughs). You know I can't remember the last time I shot 100% from the field. So it's nice that the national media got a chance to see that. But I just want to play consistent ball. That's kind of my biggest thing right now, is just to do what I need to do to help my team win ball games. And that's pretty much what I've been trying to do and hopefully doing.
You also scored your 1000th point in that game. How did that feel?
Oh man. I didn't know that I was that close. It was my first basket of the game. And I heard it over the announcements, and it was a good feeling to hear that and you know I got a tingle. And with Derrick doing it earlier in the season and then having a chance to do it, it meant a lot after everything we've gone through in the four years we've been here.
Speaking of Low, you guys have played four years together, describe the symmetry and rapport you have built playing together.
It's been nice. Just having another player that can shoot the ball and handle the ball. He's a tough match up for a guard his size, he's strong. Off the court, we've gotten close since we've been here. I can remember as a freshman, all of the six of us that came in together, we all lived on the same floor in the dorm, and I saw the guy pretty much every day and I think we just grew off the court which just helped us to stick together through tough times like those recent losses we took.
How did Washington State become interested in you, and when did you know that was where you wanted to go?
Well you know the Bennetts are from Wisconsin and I think that I had that connection that I didn't kind of know about I guess. You know, Dick coming out of retirement and the whole timing of the situation. Me actually meeting Tony, I knew who Tony was being from Wisconsin, but I didn't ever have the chance to meet him and talk to him. And having that opportunity and having him tell me the situation with his Dad coming back and him possibly being a coach one day and the Pac-Ten, in that conference you're always in a good spot when you can play against the best of the best, like we do every night. And with me coming from a small city in Wisconsin, my eyes just lit up. Especially not having a lot of looks coming out of high school anyway. So when that situation came about, I came in for a visit and the rest is history.
Did any Big 10 schools show interest?
Uh, No. (laughs) I really didn't get any looks from any Big Ten schools. And you know I'm pretty sure if I had gotten any looks from anywhere around the house, that would have been great for me and my family because they would have been there to support me. They've been there since day one, since I could run and dribble so they try to get out here as much as they can, with the distance and everything, but I'm out here for a reason, and I've been happy with my college career.
[img_assist|nid=3481|title=Kyle Weaver - Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=428]Who has been your biggest role model or influence in your basketball career?
A lot of people. A lot of people. I would have to say, besides other basketball players, I'd have to say my pops. He played basketball himself. So he definitely knows what he's talking about. He coached at a D3 level. So to have him at home every night, not only did he give me things to do to get better, but he also told me when I wasn't getting any better, when there was something that he saw that he didn't like. So I think just being able to come home to that every night, you know having an older brother and sister that played basketball as well I think that helped me out a lot. So I would say definitely him.
What was the transition of Dick Bennett to Tony Bennett like? How do you compare their styles and coaching philosophies?
Very similar. Tony's actually starting to look like Dick. The only thing I would say is that Dick is a little more vocal at times. Most of the times when he did get loud and vocal it was a positive. You know he would get on you at times, and almost make you feel bad. But I was blessed in a sense to be able to experience both. So the transition from Dick to Tony was smooth. And I would say that Tony's expectations are there and they're known, and he doesn't really preach at you a lot, he just tells you what he wants and that just forces guys to go out there and play hard and do different things.
You're often described as one of the elite defenders in the country, is that something you have really worked hard at, or is it something that just comes natural to you?
I've worked at it. It's definitely something that has come along as I've developed. You know I was never a defensive specialist but I was blessed with long arms and long legs and I think over four years I've just become better at using them.
The double overtime Vanderbilt game last year (a game that I was fortunate enough to be at) was probably the best and one of the most memorable games of the tournament. What did you and the team take away from that experience?
To not let it happen again. How's that? (laughs). A game like that. What I took from it was, ok I've been there, I know how it feels. You know I've got a little experience now. I'll be back next year. That's probably the biggest thing that I took from it, and just being able to just use these few games before tournament time to put myself in situations like that game and say ok what can we do better, what can I do to make our team win?
You have become more assertive offensively this season. Is that something that coach told you to do, or something you decided to do on your own?
A little bit of both. Just like every player, you want to get better every year. I didn't want to come back this year and not show any improvement in my game. Any type of ball player, you definitely want to show improvement and that's something that I kind of held myself to. And definitely something coach has been on me about too, taking shots and having confidence when I do take shots.
The biggest knock on you from NBA scouts is that you aren't a good shooter/scorer. Is it a valid criticism?
Hopefully they've seen that USC game. (laughs) Maybe I might have quieted that criticism a little bit. I've been working on it a whole bunch, and i just try to help my team win. Sometimes it may be shooting and scoring, and sometimes it may be guarding the toughest person on the other team. Another night I might need to get a bunch of rebounds. And with the team I play for right now, I think that that's just more important than anything else, than worrying about the criticisms that are out there about me. Having a game like the SC game just shows, not only other people but myself that I hey, I can do these things, and I know what I'm capable of.
The Washington State defensive oriented system tends to limit statistics, is that something that could hurt your draft stock?
There's a lot of things that can hurt your draft stock. But anyone that knows college basketball knows that we're a defensive team, and that's what we focus on. And naturally something like that will pop up. You're a defensive team and you're patient on offense, and all you want is good shots and you slow it down when you have to, you'll have certain things where you know you're not going to get a whole lot of shots or your numbers may go down a little bit. But the numbers that I do put up hopefully are good enough so that people can look at and say, ok maybe this guy can play a little bit.
What area of your game do you feel still needs the most work?
I feel that overall I still need some touching up. Just being consistent overall. I wouldn't pinpoint one thing and say my ball handling or my shooting, I would say being able to be good all the time.
Do you guys feel like you have unfinished business in the NCAA tournament this year?
Definitely. I'm ready to finish this regular season strong. Because lord knows this Pac-Ten has been crazy. Washington beating UCLA. You know, any given night you can get knocked off so we definitely want to focus on the season first and get as many wins as we can. And come tournament time, that's something that I definitely want to take into my own hands to try to be as good as I can be.
Is the Pac-Ten the top conference in the nation?
I don't know how it could not be! If it's not 1 it's 1b.
How many teams do you see getting into the NCAA Tourney from the Pac-Ten?
I just hear other people talking about our conference. I've been hearing 6-7 and it's definitely possible. It just shows in the records so far. We've just got a bunch of teams that can play some legitimate ball and do some damage in the tournament.
What role do you see yourself eventually playing at the next level?
You know what, that next level is so different than college. I got somebody cutting me a check, I'll do whatever, I'll guard Shaq! (laughs) Whatever you need me to do. You know that's a while different monster right there. I've heard different things about what people see me as and where I can be most successful on the court and I think just my versatility saves me. Being able to play the one at times and being able to be bumped off to the wing. I think it will definitely give me more of a cushion as far as what I can do.
Do you have a favorite NBA player or someone that you try to pattern your game after?
Favorite NBA player... Right now? You know who I used to love? I used to love Penny. Penny used to be my boy. Pre-injury, the young Penny. Orlando Penny, he was nice. Him and Shaq. And again before he got hurt too, I would say Dwyane Wade. I like watching him play and how he plays. And I think that we kind of have the same knock, not being able to shoot and do different things. To see him carry the Heat and win that championship was just crazy.