Dec. 8, 2005
Men's basketball senior and co-captain Craig Smith anticipates a great game at Maryland when the sixth-ranked Eagles travel to College Park, Md., this Sunday in their inaugural ACC contest against the No. 21 Terrapins (6-2). This season, Smith (15.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg) has climbed to seventh in the school's all-time lists for points scored (1,824) and rebounds (831). The Los Angeles product was one of three ACC players named to the five-man AP Preseason All-America team in November.
Q: What can you tell us about the additions of freshmen Tyrese Rice and Marquez Haynes this season?
A: Tyrese and Marquez bring tremendous energy on the floor. Being small guards they bring quickness, speed and the ability to shoot the ball on the perimeter. We've been missing it a lot, but I feel that we have more weapons on the outside now. They have stepped it up for us in crucial games. In my eyes, they're not freshmen anymore. They're upperclassmen with the way they have played and the way they've handled pressure in games - especially being in those close situations. They did a very good job, even though we lost, in the Michigan State game. They did a very good job out there in [the Las Vegas Invitational] as well.
Q: What does it mean to you to not only be a senior, but also to be a team captain?
A: That means a lot. Obviously, I've proven to the coaches and to the players that I am a leader. I do lead by example. I've been on the floor long enough to give guys the insight on the things that I've seen.
Q: Looking back to the tournament in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend, BC had strong comeback victories over Drake and Oklahoma State. Talk about the resilience of this team and its ability to overcome any deficit.
A: That's been us for the last couple of years. Last season, we would be down, and we would come back and win the game. We're a team that is not startled by anything. Obviously, we know that teams can make their runs. But, we're more patient than most teams. I think that other teams would be more anxious. We're more patient, and we like to take it one possession at a time. That's just part of our identity.
Q: What was it like to be able to return to the big stage at Madison Square Garden against Michigan State in the Jimmy V Classic last Tuesday night?
A: It's a great feeling being there, even though it was my last game there in a college uniform. I've always loved playing there. It's pretty much the mecca of basketball. Watching players like Michael Jordan and the Knicks with John Starks, they all played on that floor. Every time that I get the opportunity there I always try to do my best.
Q: Talk about the team's 6-1 start. What has you surprised you so far, and where might you see room for improvement?
A: We're short-handed right now. But, I feel that once we get a couple of guys back, we'll be all right. We'll have something like a nine-man rotation - that's pretty good because I think that a lot of guys are playing a lot of minutes right now. As soon as that goes back down, I think that everything will come back into order. As far as our defense, I think that we could step it up a little bit more instead of just always waiting to win. We seem to wait until we're down before we turn it on. We need to just automatically turn it on.
Q: Looking at the elite frontcourt established by yourself and Jared Dudley, how are the two of you able to work together and complement each other?
A: We complement each other so well. When I get the ball inside, I know that teams are coming, and I know that he is going to somehow get open. I'm pretty much always looking for him. He's such an intelligent player that he knows how to position himself and how to get good shots, rebounds and stuff like that. That makes it even better for me because as soon as they start paying attention to him, its gives us the opportunity to get other guys involved in the offense.
Q: Talk about the increased playing time of center John Oates and what he has brought to the team this season.
A: He didn't play a lot last year, and we worked with him the whole preseason. But, he's been a plus. He knew that he needed to step up in a big way to help this ball club out while we've been short-handed. And, he's done it so far. That's what confidence can bring to a player. In John's case - not playing his freshman year to being a starter now - that's a plus, and it's great to be on the same team as him.
Q: You've known for the last two seasons that your team would move to the ACC. This Sunday you finally get to play in your first ACC contest, at Maryland. How excited are you to begin playing against ACC competition?
A: I think it's going to be pretty exciting. We're going to be going to new venues and playing against teams that you've seen pretty much all the time on TV. I believe that this Sunday is going to be a battle. Obviously, they want to welcome us in, but not really in a good way. I know that we're a great road team, and it's going to be one hell of a game.
Q: What do you know about the Terps?
A: They have a couple of Californian guys on the team, and they've got some very good guards. [D.J.] Strawberry is coming back from an injury and is playing really well. [Chris] McCray has been playing very well and [Nik] Caner-Medley has played well the majority of the time that he has been there.
- interview conducted by senior Alex Timiraos