HoopsHype.com Interviews

Michael Olowokandi: "We've got to open up the court for big men like me"
by Morris O'Kelly / November 16, 2002

You've had five double-doubles in eight games so far this year. You seem to be far more aggressive on both ends of the floor. What's different?

Michael Olowokandi: I've been fortunate so far. I've been playing well. Maybe I've found my niche.

So then you're more comfortable on the court ?

MO: I'm little more comfortable, yes. But I think I'm more aware of my limits; what I can and can't do. And I work within the confines of that.

You seem to be more well-rounded offensively. Is there any particular move or shot you've been working on in this past offseason?

MO: Not really, I'm still working with the same types of shots, just maybe in a better rhythm. Baseline, middle, stuff like that. I'm moving to my right and left.

So you're more comfortable because you're more confident or confident because you're more comfortable?

MO: They're pretty much hand-in-hand, but confidence is a big part of it. I'd say my confidence has grown because of my experience which is also a big part of it. I have more years in the league now.

What do you think playing in the West has done for your game with the big centers?

MO: Actually I'd say the play in the East is more physical. Obviously the best big men are in the West, but overall I'd say the East was more physical. There are more skilled forwards and centers out here.

Why don't you think Clippers aren't able to close out games.

MO: We need to devise a system late in the game. I don't know if we can do a 'free-for-all', equal opportunity offense. There are some guys who've been here longer, more experienced. They are more polished. You have to play to the strength of your team.

Does that mean give you the ball when the game's on the line?

MO: That's for the coaching staff to decide, but we need to have a system for late in the game. Like I said, it can't be an equal opportunity offense.

Would you say that the offense you have right now is adequate enough for the Clippers to win?

MO: We need to work on our court spacing, especially the big guys. We have a lot of big bodies now, so it's more difficult. But we can't be predictable near the ends of games or too unpredictable among each other.

Is there anything else that you see that has been holding the team back in this the first portion of the season?

MO: We have periods when we haven't been adjusting as quickly defensively as we should. Offensively we have periods when we're not knocking down shots. It's tougher then for me because teams will just double-team me in the low post.

What would you like to see change?

MO: We as a team have to better judge what we can and can't do in situations. We as a team have a habit of dribbling the ball into the lane in traffic, trying to shoot. That's not always the thing to do. Lately we haven't had the type of confidence in our open looks and maybe we're trying to make up for that. We've got to be confident in our shooting. We've got to open up the court for big men like me.

Morris O'Kelly is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

Tell us what you think about this interview. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com