Feb. 21, 2008
Freshman center Josh Southern has played in 13 games this season, averaging 3.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game. The Saginaw, Mich., native registered a career-high eight points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes in a game against Maryland earlier this month. Southern and the Eagles continue ACC play on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Florida State at noon.
Talk about your role on the team. What do you try to accomplish when you're on the floor?
When I'm on the floor, I just look to help any way I can, in any form or fashion. Play defense and just be a good hustle player out there. Just bring some energy to the game. Try to fill in the void where we are lacking.
You didn't see a lot of game action before the North Carolina game on Jan. 31. Since then, you've averaged just more than 15 minutes per game. First off, talk about the difficulty of watching from the bench for almost 20 games - and also what you see as the benefits of being able to watch from the sidelines?
Watching from the bench helped me put into perspective what I needed to do if I ever got a chance to be out there. Now, playing, it's helpful for future situations like next year because I'll be a little bit more experienced in the ACC. Watching from the bench, I could pick up on different things that opposing players were doing that I could possibly be guarding against in the game. That helps me in not making the same mistakes that our players are making out there. Another benefit is just bringing energy from the bench. I feel good about it now. I'm glad to be playing.
Now, since that North Carolina game, you're a regular in the team's rotation. Was there any adjustment period once you saw regular game action?
It was kind of an adjustment in practice, not going as hard as I was in practice since I knew I could possibly be playing a considerable amount of minutes now. So I maybe changed a little bit in practice, but other than that I'm still working hard in practice, still getting better every day.
How would you describe your game right now? What are skills are you working on?
Coming out of high school, my high school coaches told me to work on everything, try not to be a liability on the floor, be able to do everything. So now I'm working on all aspects of my game, just trying to become an all-around good player.
Once the season ends - and you having a year of college basketball under your belt - what will be your focus in order to make an even greater impact next year?
I'll be working on my explosiveness, which means just getting on the floor and being dynamic. If it's getting in the weight room or stretching a little more, just doing whatever it takes to be a big role player on this team, or maybe taking a bigger role on the team. So, I'm looking forward to the off-season.
On a side note, a lot of people are intrigued by the way in which you wear your socks. Can you give us some insight?
I've actually been doing it since like fourth grade. Basically my whole high school career I had long socks. It's some kind of style and it helps keep my legs warm. I like it. It shows that I'm kind of an individual, but I'm also a team player. It's just a way to bring my own flavor to the ballgame.
The team is 13-11 overall and 4-7 in the ACC right now. Talk about the season to date. How would you evaluate the season so far?
The season in a nutshell, we should have won more games. I don't want to use our being young as an excuse, but it shows at times, not closing out different ballgames and stuff like that. Other than that, in the future we're going to be very good, so I'm just waiting, picking my spots and hopefully we can turn some heads in this tournament.
Talk about Tyrese Rice.
Tyrese is a dynamic player. He can turn it on when he wants. He is our leader. When he scores, everybody else is in the ballgame with him. But at times, while he's scoring, I don't think players get involved with him [in the scoring]. Tyrese is a special player and I think he's going to do big things for us in the future or wherever his path takes him. He's been in the system for so long so he places us where we need to be. He talks to us one-on-one. He just shows us the ropes, basically - how the offense should be run, where we should be defensively. He knows his stuff. He and Coach Skinner sit down a lot and talk about different things, so he takes the things that Coach tells him and he tells us.
Talk about Tyrelle Blair and John Oates, the two senior big men. How have they helped you?
Oates is a leader. He lets me know what I'm doing wrong. He's a great guy off the court. On the court, I have no complaints about him. Tyrelle is a funny guy. He's enjoyable to play with, to be around. His shot-blocking ability is one of a kind. I kind of envy that a little bit, but it's a God-given talent. Those guys are big helps.
Your class - the freshmen - has certainly made an immediate impact on the team. Combined, your class scores nearly 40 percent of the team's points. Talk about your class - Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and Cortney Dunn. Is there any special bond there?
Yeah, just last night most of us went to the movies together. We plan things together and go different places together. We are a close-knit group and it shows when we're all in the game together, too. Like I said, in the future, we're going to be good. It just takes time and hard work so we just have to keep on fighting and getting better every day. Biko reminds me of Baron Davis. He facilitates the game and he's a shifty point guard. He's deceptively quick and can get around people any way, make plays for other people. Rakim is an unbelievable scorer. Wow. His size, he creates a match-up problem for everybody. He's quick and he can take it to the post. He can do everything, so he's going to be good. Corey brings energy. He can jump out of the gym. He's very intense while he's on the floor. Cortney is my right-hand man. I'm proud of him, like the way he's been keeping his head up, still working hard in the weight room. He put on maybe 40 pounds. He came in at like 195 pounds and now he's like 240, solid. He's going to be good. He's working very hard. I'm just proud of him.
In general, what has surprised you about your first year of college basketball? What things have caught you off guard/by surprise?
I just had to get used to the pace of the game. Sometimes you have to slow down; sometimes you have to speed up. It just depends on who you're playing. You have to come ready every night. Playing in the ACC, you have to bring your A-game every night. That was one of the biggest shocks for me. You can't just relax. Even in the beginning of the season when you're playing sort of mediocre teams you still have to bring it. College basketball is where you need to be. It's a dream come true.
Tell us about your relationship with director of basketball operations Preston Murphy. How are you related and how close were you two before you came to BC?
He is my second cousin. My mom and his mom are first cousins. As a young guy, I used to watch him play for Nouvel while he was in high school. I saw a couple of games when he played against Shane Battier. He was a great player. He could put it on. I think he had like 34 points against Detroit Country Day, the team Shane Battier played for. I watched him play when he was at Rhode Island. I didn't really get to see him play that much because of the age difference. He was in college and I was in middle school or something like that. I talked to him every now and then when he came home for break. Now, he's just showing me the ropes, basically, showing me how to be a college student. He's been around college. He's coached high school. Anywhere I need any help, he helps me out.
Interview conducted by sophomore Geoffrey Kehlmann