HoopsHype.com Interviews

Shane Battier: "Hubie has given us a clear game plan"
by Lance Wiedower / January 24, 2003

Your minutes have reduced from a team-high 39.7 per game last season to just under 30 this year. After starting every game played in last year, you have only started 23 of 38 this year. Has the reduction in playing time had an affect on you?

Shane Battier: No, I think I'm having a good year. My averages are all up. Not my points [he's averaging 8 a game after ranking third on the team last year with 14.4], but I'm shooting close to 50 percent from the field, right under 40 percent from three, and 80 percent from the line. Blocks, steals, charges, assists - they're all up from last year. I feel I'm a more efficient player.

You're ranked third on the team in minutes this year after leading the team last year. Does that just show this team has more depth than last year?

SB: We're a lot better this year. We have better players. Last year Pau Gasol and I had to play a lot of minutes. That's one of the things [team president] Jerry West has brought in this year is depth.

You're not scoring as much but you still seem to be a fan favorite in Memphis. They save their loudest applause for you. Talk about the fans' appreciation for your game. It seems they appreciate all the little things you do for the team.

SB: I think the fans in Memphis are very knowledgeable. It doesn't always show up in the stat sheets what I do, but they see what I do for the team.

Talk about Hubie Brown and what he has meant to this team since coming on as head coach.

SB: Hubie has given us a clear game plan. That's been the biggest difference. We're playing more together. And obviously we're winning more games because of it.

You played under an excellent coach in college [Duke's Mike Krzyzewski]. Compare what he and Hubie have in common as well as maybe what is different.

SB: They both respect the game and know a great deal about the game. Their attention to details - offense, spacing, the angles. Those are the things that ultimately are going to win basketball games. Both of those great
coaches pay close attention to details. And obviously the NBA and college are different. In college you're the GM, president and head coach. Hubie's just a coach.

Talk about the all star rookie game. You were selected to play last year as a rookie but you were left off the sophomore team this season. Several of your teammates [second-year player Gasol and rookies Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek] were selected. Do you see that as any kind of snub?

SB: No, I told them if I don't make the game, I'm sure I could find somewhere nice and warm. I'm going to relax. I'm going to enjoy doing that actually.

You didn't get to do that last year, relax.

SB: It was fun last year. But it's not anything I have to go through again this year. The rest will be more welcome.

Is it a good sign for the future of this franchise that three players are playing in that game and you have Wesley Person in the three-point shootout?

SB: We have talent. It's just a matter of melding that talent together and having the talent to mature. We have a lot of young talent. We've shown glimpses of becoming a very good team in this league. But we still have a
little bit to go before we can put it all together.

You just passed the halfway point of the season with the win at San Antonio. You've won one more game than you did at this point last year. But there's an obvious difference in this team.

SB: We have faith in the system. And we know who we are every night out. Fast breaking, passing, crashing the glass, shooting three's when we have it, and most of all scoring in the paint. When you have an identity it really helps.

How has the team changed in team play and chemistry under Hubie?

SB: Guys have a belief in the system and that's the biggest thing. We know what we're doing. We know our roles and that will lead to more wins.

You have a couple of former Duke teammates in Mike Dunleavy and Jay Williams who are going through some rookie struggles. Have you talked to them much or kept up with how they've been doing?

SB: Those guys have great talent. They're both great players and they're great guys. People are really quick to give up on rookies and I know. I played a lot of minutes last year. You're just an injury away from playing 40 minutes a game. Those guys are going to be fine. People are quick to pass judgment but they are going to be really good for a long time.

Lance Wiedower is the sports editor for the Collierville Herald (TN) and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com