Feb. 17, 2005
This week's featured athlete is men's basketball senior guard Jermaine Watson. In his 118 games, Boston College has compiled an 83-35 record. This season, Watson has registered 10.3 points per game and leads the Eagles with an 83.3% free-throw percentage.
Q: When people talk and write about your basketball team this year, a lot is mentioned of the 20-game win streak and the top-10 ranking. But, what do you feel has been the biggest challenge thus far this season?
A: No matter who we are playing against, we always respect our opponent. We always try to play at a high level. You can't play down to the level of your competition. You have to play to the best of your capabilities every night.
Q: Your team set the school record for the most consecutive wins by opening the season 20-0. What do you take from having been able to consistently win games?
A: Preparation for games is big, as well as practice and going over different situations. We have a lot of different weapons on our team. If somebody isn't having a good offensive night, somebody else can step up - for instance, Sean Marshall last night. For Sean to come out and have 22 points last night, I'm sure that Rutgers wasn't prepared for Sean to go for 22. That always helps when you have people who can come out and do things like that.
Q: Many have labeled you as one of the nation's premier "sixth men." As the first player coming off the bench and one of two seniors, what do you see as your role?
A: To be a storm out there when I get in, in every aspect. I'm there to shake up people defensively, to come out and stick one of the best offensive players on the other team, to get some rebounds and to just score a few points.
Q: This Saturday's game will mark the first time in your four seasons where Syracuse plays in Conte Forum. With that in mind, what do you expect out of the Orange in a sold-out Conte Forum before a nationally-televised audience?
A: I believe it's going to be like the definition of college basketball. It's what you would expect college basketball to be like in an ideal setting - that's what it is going to be. It's going to an ESPN-televised game, and Conte Forum is going to be completely sold out. As soon as they open the doors the fans are going to come storming in. There's going to be a lot of electricity in the air, and it'll be loud. I think both teams are going to be up to play because this game right here can either put us in a very, very good situation to win the Big East or put Syracuse in a position where they might be able to win the Big East. It's going to be the definition of college basketball.
Q: In the past three seasons at Boston College, Conte Forum has been sold out against such opponents as Duke and Connecticut. But how have this season's home crowds (most recently against Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia and Rutgers) compared to those of the past three seasons?
A: This year's crowds have been huge. I remember from my freshman year when we hosted Duke. As soon as they opened the gates, the students came pouring in. I'd never seen that before at Conte Forum. Now, it's happening almost every game. You've got students camped out in front [of the entrance] waiting to get the best seats. As soon as they open the gates for them, they come running down while we're warming up. They're all ready, and they come out and start heckling the other team. It's just a great feeling to be playing in front of a sold-out crowd, especially when there is a big student fan base there. They go crazy and cheer you on, and they're screaming or celebrating with you. It brings an atmosphere, and the students contribute to that bigtime.
Q: If you had to describe your game to somebody who had never seen you play, what would you tell them?
A: I'd say I'm a very passionate player. I leave it all out there on the court. I love the game. I'm very quick, creative and risk-taking.
Q: After shooting 52.5% from the free throw line your freshman year, 60.3% as a sophomore, 72.8% last season, you are now hitting a team-best 83.3% free throws this season. What has led to your improved free throw shooting?
A: Just being more confident when I step to the line. I've had a lot more practice than in the past and a lot more repetition. If it's at 83%, I'd like it to be 90%. I'm not satisfied at 83%. I'd love for it to be closer to 90%.
Q: With 21 wins under your belt and five regular season games remaining, Boston College stands in great shape to make the NCAA Tournament. Having never advanced to the "Sweet 16" in your two previous appearances, what will this team have to do to play deep into March?
A: I think we have the right make up and chemistry this year to do so. We have a lot of experience out there. Everybody knows their part on the team. Definitely, we are getting a sense that we are considered one of the better teams in the nation this year. We want to get a good seed and bye in the Big East Tournament. That's big because no team has ever won it before without getting that bye. Getting a number one or two seed in the tournament never hurts. I don't know what the percentages are of the number one and two seeds getting to the Sweet 16, but I'd bet it's pretty high.
Q: After Boston College burst into the top 10 over four weeks ago and has attained national exposure, has it been any more difficult to focus on your goals?
A: No, it hasn't. You always want more, and that's the good thing about this team. We are not satisfied with being in the top 10. We want to be number one. Whether or not we get to number one or Illinois loses or whatever, we want to be number one. We're always working for more. We have big dreams as a team. We are not satisfied with just being in the top 10. You always want to fight to get to the top of the mountain. We want to be on top of the Big East and win the Big East Tournament. We want to win the national championship. If we had mentioned national championship to somebody back in September, they might have snickered. Now we say it and people say, `Hey, that's a good goal.' It's believable to people now. But it was believable to us back in September.
Q: When you finish your last game this season and graduate in May, what do you think you will miss most about Boston College, on and off the court?
A: Off the court, I'll miss the friends I've made here. Definitely, some of the friends I've made here as far as student friends and some of the people who work around here. On the court, I would say just playing college basketball. At that next level and in the NBA, people don't come out and play with the same passion night in and night out as they do in college. Here, people aren't playing for any money. You're playing to get to the next level and for the love of the game. On the court, the level of intensity that people play with will be missed. Also, [I'll miss] being able to play with my teammates, clowning around with my teammates in the locker room and on road trips and coming together to fight for one thing.