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Carlos Boozer: "We can make the playoffs"
by Bruce Meyer / December 31, 2003

What is your take on your play so far this season?

Carlos Boozer: I think it's been pretty good. I'm trying to get better and better as the season goes along, but I think I've played pretty well.

Are you surprised you've been able to make such an impact so early in your career?

CB: Not surprised. I've always been confident in my abilities. I think last year I proved to myself I could play at this level, and this year I'm just continuing on with it.

On the offensive end, are there any plays set for you?

CB: A few. I mean every now and then, I get a play. But usually I just go out there, run the court hard, hustle and get offensive rebounds; do those types of things.

How did playing for Coach K and going through the Duke program help prepare you to play in the NBA?

CB: I think it prepared me well. I learned a lot of basketball fundamentals there offensively and defensively. Even though the college game is way different than the NBA game, I think just the principles were definitely ingrained in me at that point and it helped me at this level.

What's your evaluation of the Cavs play thus far this year?

CB: I think we're doing all right. We're getting better and better, especially with the new additions. With Eric Williams and Tony Battie and Kedrick Brown, we've gotten a lot better in every aspect as far as everybody thinking about the team and not individuals. And I think we're moving forward at a rapid pace right now.

Do you and the team set goals in terms of wins?

CB: We want to make the playoffs. I don't know what the wins will be. I think we just want to make the playoffs and establish ourselves as a tough team in the East.

Do you think that's a realistic goal given your record thus far?

CB: I think we have a chance. I think we have to keep playing as we've been playing. Play tough defense. The offense is going to go up and down. You never know if the ball is gonna bounce in or not, but if we can continue to play the good defense we've been playing, I think we have a chance. Because so many teams in the East are fluctuating up and down I think we have a good chance of getting in there.

What has coach Silas been able to teach you this year to help you improve your game?

CB: A lot. Most of it is defensively. But also the technique of rebounding. How to bump your man low and get him off balance a little bit so you can go up for the rebound at a hard pace. And also just a winning attitude. Everything we do in practice to win or lose, he wants us to get in the habit of learning how to be competitive enough to win every situation we're in. That's the biggest thing we've learned.

How much more does he set the tone compared to the coaches you played for last year?

CB: A lot more. He's very stern. He wants it done a certain way, and he doesn't vary off that path very often. He wants it done a certain way because it's been a proven way the way he won at New Orleans and also when he was a player. That's great for our team to have a stern leader like that. At the same time he's a fatherly figure. He understands. He's been a player in this league. He played for 16 years, so he understands what we go through in terms of rest and travel. So he's been great for our team.

Any similarities between him and Coach K?

CB: A lot. They want to win badly. That says it all in itself. Coach K wanted to win at every highest level and so does Paul.

Were you surprised at some of the big changes with the trade with Boston, or was it something that had been talked about?

CB: I think the trade definitely helped our team and I think the trade helped their team. I think we got great strengths through the trade. I don't know how they're doing but we're 4 and 3 since the trade, and we've gotten better. I think it was a trade that needed to be done, and we're benefiting greatly from it.

What have the three new players brought to the team in terms of leadership and attitude?

CB: They've all brought great defensive principles. They learned great principles in Boston. Obviously, they went deep into the playoffs and done very well. And they brought that here to us, their defensive principles and also their experience. Eric Williams is in his ninth year in the league, Tony Battie is in his sixth or seventh, they're both veterans. And Kedrick just plays hard all the time, which is what we need. Everybody here has to play hard. And those three guys have brought a great deal of intangible stuff to our team that you can't measure. But the atmosphere in the locker room is all about the team, and that's something that we need.

There's still some talk about more potential changes, especially some stuff with Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Does the team think much about that?

CB: To be honest with you, I haven't even heard that. I thought this is gonna be our team and we're gonna move forward.

What's your impression of LeBron been so far?

CB: Great. I think he has played terrific this season. I think he's bypassed everybody's expectations. So if you guys [the media] don't make too many more of them in the future. He's been playing terrific. He's been far more than a rookie. He's been able to go out there and score big points; in crucial moments of the game as well. Not just early on, but also late in the fourth quarter to put us ahead. I'm overly impressed with him.

Was the trade just a final validation that this is going to be his team?

CB: I think there's no question about that. I think even before the trade, there was no question this was going to be LeBron's team. Everything is going to be built around that. I think we know that he's a special talent and we're going to try to maximize that talent. The trade's been great for us, like I said.

Last question: How many tattoos do you have, and do you have any favorites?

CB: I have four. And 'Ce Ce' is my favorite on my wrist. It's my wife's name.

Bruce Meyer is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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