Basketball's Louis Hinnant Prepares for March Madness
March 14, 2005
This week's featured athlete is men's basketball point guard and tri-captain Louis Hinnant. In the Big East Conference, the junior guard ranks fifth in assists and second in assist-turnover ratio (in league games). Hinnant has averaged 5.4 points per game and 4.8 assists per game this season.
Q: As you prepare for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, what do you take from last year's trip to the NCAA Tournament, which ended with a last-minute, 57-54 loss to Georgia Tech in the second round?
A: Obviously, we don't want to put ourselves in a position where we have to fight back. We have to try to establish ourselves from the tip-off. We just want to go out there and play hard. In the Georgia Tech game, we were a young team. We were a little wide-eyed, and we let them outplay us in the first half. In the second half, we played the style of ball that we wanted to play. That put us in a position to win that game. If we had played that way from the beginning, we would definitely have come out with a victory in that game. That's just a major change I expect to see - guys being ready to go from the tip, especially after the [most recent] game against West Virginia. We came out lackadaisical, and we thought that was a team we could have beaten if we had put all our energy forward.
Q: What type of approach do you take in a single-elimination tournament game, as opposed to a regular season game where one loss doesn't end your season?
A: In the postseason and in a tournament game, one loss is all it takes for you to be gone and packing for the summer. We definitely don't want to be a one-and-done team. We are trying to go as far as we can. If we come in ready to play, we can go as far as we want to. In a tournament like this, you can't overlook anybody. People put a lot of emphasis on the seedings and things like that, but it only takes one game. Regardless, any team can be beaten on any given night. There are no perfect teams out there anymore. After Illinois took their lumps, we have to be ready to go. Any team can be beaten. We know that starting with Pennsylvania, if we don't come ready to play, we'll be sent home packing.
Q: The 1993-94 Boston College squad advanced to the "Elite Eight" after losing in the first round of the Big East Tournament that season. How do you respond from last week's 78-72 loss to West Virginia as you enter the most important part of your season?
A: People say that history has a tendency to repeat itself, so hopefully that is true. I definitely have high hopes for this team. We're not settling for the Elite Eight. We want to go as far as we can. With that being said, that's a great accomplishment by that team. We just have to be ready to go out there. If we can make that type of noise in the tournament and get to the Elite Eight, we'll definitely be ready for whatever may come after that. We just want to go as far as we can.
Q: Many critics speculated that Boston College would enter the tournament as a No. 3 seed. What's your reaction to a No. 4 seed and what do you anticipate for Thursday's contest against Ivy League champion Pennsylvania?
A: I definitely feel that we deserved a three seed, but with that being said, I feel that in the major stretch of our season, we put ourselves in a situation where we could become a four seed. We left our seeding in the hands of the committee. I'm very happy about the bracket we are in and the games that we will play if we advance. We have nothing to hang our heads about. If we continue to worry about that, bad things may happen in the tournament.
Q: How has the team dealt with the increased media attention, both locally and nationally?
A: I think that guys have focused pretty well. We have continued to focus on basketball. A lot of people put a lot of emphasis on that attention and said that maybe that's why we had a couple of stumbles in the season. I think the coaches have done a good job of keeping us level-headed and not letting too much get to us. We haven't really received this type of media attention in the past. Other sports here maybe have received a little more attention than we have, so we are taking it in stride. Guys understand how to deal with the media while being able to maintain a certain focus level on basketball as well as school.
Q: Last week, Al Skinner received Big East Coach of the Year honors. Having played in his system for three seasons, what do you enjoy most about playing for Coach Skinner?
A: He's not one of those coaches that jumps down your throat after every mistake. He understands that players will make mistakes. He tries to let you learn from your own mistakes. Guys are going to mess up. Nobody is perfect. There hasn't and never will be a perfect player to play this game. He understands that. He just gets on you when you continue to make the same mistakes. Any player can respect that. You don't want to make the same mistake over and over again. So, we have to respect that. He allows us to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.
Q: Which teams or players in this year's NCAA Tournament might you keep an eye on?
A: Right now we just have to keep an eye on Pennsylvania. That's our first game. Then we can focus on the rest of the bracket after Thursday. Right now, we just have to find out as much as we can about Pennsylvania. I think that our coaches will do a great job telling us all that we need to know. From that, we'll focus on whoever else may be in the bracket. At this point, you can't really pinpoint what teams you are going to play. A lot of things happen during March Madness, so you can't really predict anything.
Q: This team has shown it can comeback from any deficit and make a game close. What is this team's mentality when trailing at halftime or late in the second half?
A: I think we never feel that we are out of a game. We never feel that we are going to lose. That's a positive as well as a negative for this team. For example, take the West Virginia game last week. Things were getting out of hand. I don't think we felt that sense of urgency until halftime. We have that certain swagger, where we feel like we're never really out of a game. I think that at halftime, we understood that there were only 20 minutes left in the game. We had to really try to step it up. We brought ourselves back from an eventual 25-point deficit. That shows the type of resiliency this team has. But, we have to understand that we have to use that type of energy from the beginning and not try to get down, where we have to fight back. If we can do that, we'll be okay.
Q: In the Big East, you rank among the league's top players in assists and assist-turnover ratio. How would you evaluate your performance this season?
A: I think that I've done a pretty good job, getting us into a position to be an effective team. Obviously, when you are among the top teams in the country with a 24-4 record, the point guard has to be doing something right to be successful. That's a testament to myself as well as Steve Hailey. He's done a great job with the team as well. I think we go hand-in-hand. I've done a pretty good job, but I couldn't have done it without his help, and vice-versa. We don't always get a lot of credit, but I think that both of us have done a great job. It may not come up in the stat sheet and things like that. As far as my goals go, I usually set team-oriented goals. We wanted to win the Big East, and we did that by tying with Connecticut. We want to go far in the tournament, and that remains to be seen. We have a lot more to do in the tournament for me to feel like we had a successful season. We've done a great job up to this point, so we just have to continue to run with it.