You’ve started every game this season. How is the adjustment from coming off the bench to starting because we’ve seen it with Harrison and Andre, where it might not click right away or it might take some time to get used to. Is moving from bench to starter a dramatic change for you or is that something that comes natural?
I definitely think starting throughout the playoffs last year really helped me, but it doesn’t change my game like I’m not going to be more aggressive if I’m starting or if I’m coming off the bench. I going to play the same game. So, it wasn’t a huge difference. Starting allows you to get into the flow of the game quicker because you are getting into the flow the same time everybody else is getting into the flow.
If there was one difference, I’d say it’s probably that, you just really catch the flow of the game quicker, as opposed to you may sub in and everybody else already has their rhythm and you come in trying to get yours. Other than that, whether I come off the bench or starting, I’m still going to be me and obviously, everybody always says it doesn’t matter, I enjoy starting, it’s an honor, it’s an accomplishment. I’d be lying if I say that I didn’t enjoy it but I’m not that guy that’s say if I’m not starting, I’m not going to do this, or if I’m not starting I’m not happy. I do whatever I can to help this team win.
If anything, your shooting stroke is one thing that can benefit the most from starting…
Absolutely, you hit that first one and you’ll hit the next ones coming and down, usually. I think that definitely helps as oppose to warming up, sitting then coming off trying to find it. You get into that rhythm early so I think that does help.
Speaking of your shooting, you’ve improved your three point percentage every year throughout your career. Is it something mechanical, is it finding more open looks? What can you attribute that to?
I wouldn’t say much mechanical, I’d say I’ve been putting in a lot of reps. Even Coach [Tom] Izzo used to tell me as a freshman in college you don’t have a broken shot, you just need reps. So over the course of the year I just constantly got up more and more reps and put the work in and eventually it started to pay off. It has been helping me a lot this year, I couldn’t buy one last night, especially after I hurt my thumb, I couldn’t really get the ball over the rim.
Overall, I’m much more confident in it, but confidence comes with preparation. If you prepare the right way, you cant be confident in something if you know you can’t do it but if you’ve done something over and over again then you know you can make those shots consistently. You become confident and to a certain extent shooting is a lot of confidence. If you don’t have confidence in your shot, you can bet that you won’t make it, and if you’re confident in your shot you’re going to have a good chance for you to make it.
Steph has credited Ron Adams in being an important factor in terms of his own defensive improvement and his mentality this season. How has Ron Adams changed things for you?
He’s really good. Ron is big on the little things. Making sure we understand closing out with the right hand, instead of taking a step. Just little things that you don’t think matter but then all of a sudden you start doing those little things and see they make a world of difference. Closing out with your hands up as oppose to having them out and getting a cheap foul. Drive and keeping your hands back as oppose to putting your hands in the cookie jar. So he’s really big on the little things. You know the first couple of days, it seems tedious, but then when you lock in and do those little things you realize they really do make a difference.
Would you say that was one thing that was maybe missing from past few seasons, where the little things weren’t as highlighted as much?
No, little things have always been highlighted everywhere I’ve played so I wouldn’t say it was missing. After a while guys get more mature, and you tend to pick up on more things and your open to more things.
What does Alvin Gentry do specifically with your game? Has he helped you improve on the offensive end as well or is he another one of those coaches, like Ron, that highlights the little things?
Alvin fills you with confidence, nothing is a bad shot…
You want to hear that as an offensive player…
Absolutely, it gives you confidence. ‘Shoot the next one.’ He really fills you up with confidence and obviously his offensive track record is proven in this league and every team he’s involved with normally leads the league in scoring.