For the first time today it felt as if basketball season was around the corner. That’s because, for the first time this fall, I had to put on a sweatshirt to make the trip to the gym. It was that cool. And wet. Basketball weather. So, to honor the change, we’ve got the third in our series of Q&As with Washington State basketball personalities, this time sophomore point guard Reggie Moore. Read on.
As always, some quick background. When Ken Bone took over the WSU basketball program, he knew he needed a point guard who could run the up-tempo attack Bone loves. But it was April and point guards like that are usually already locked up. Lucky for Bone, Moore was still available. And wanted to play close to his Seattle home. Though he had an up-and-down freshman season, Moore was crucial in the Cougars success, averaging 12.7 points (second on the team) and a team-high 4.2 assists per game. As the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Rainier Beach High alum sat down to talk Wednesday, wearing a red LA Dodgers hat, he pealed off his Skullcandy headphones – his iPod playlist could only be described as eclectic, ranging from hip hop to classic rock (we’ve talked about Led Zeppelin before) and just about everything in between – and chatted about basketball. (As an aside before we get to Moore, Bone will have a live chat on the Seattle Times’ website today. You can access it here).
Question: Let’s start with a simple question. What did you do in the offseason to make yourself better?
Answer: I really just worked on my shot a lot and I worked on my dribbling. I went with my cousin Aaron Brooks (a former Oregon Duck and current Houston Rocket point guard) and I worked out with him a lot.
Q: That must help. I mean, you’re not going to be working out with anyone that’s better than that. How does he help?
A: Just different concepts of the game, different parts of the game, pick and rolls, how to use my body, because he’s kind of a smaller guy. I’m a lot bigger than him and he’s doing what he’s doing in the NBA. Different finishes, how to finish over a bigger guy, how to draw a different type of foul. Just thinking the game, really.
Q: So how are you related?
A: My grandfather and his mom are first cousins.
Q: You said you were working on your dribbling. What do you need to improve in your ball-handling?
A: I wouldn’t say I needed it necessarily, because my ball-handling wasn’t bad, but I just want to be the best at it. Aaron is really good at handling the ball, especially ever since he was younger. I came to him because I want to be like him, really.
Q: Point guards have really changed. They’re not a lot of John Stockton, 15-assists a game guys anymore. Now, point guards have to score so much more, while still getting their four or five assists each game. Is that the type of point guard you want to be and are you getting there?
A: I just want to be the type of point guard that does what it takes to win. I know some games last year, there was the game against Portland State I had two points and 12 assists. Against Cal and UCLA, I scored in the high 20s. But it was just doing whatever I needed to do to win. Sometimes Klay (Thompson) is not hitting, sometimes they’re double-teaming Klay and I might have to score. Sometimes my teammates are just wide open (while) they are locking in on me and sometimes I have to pass too.
Q: What makes you feel better, making a pass to a guy and having him dunk the ball or putting a 3-pointer in somebody’s face?
A: I love throwing the ball and my teammate getting a dunk out of it. Or Klay hitting a 3. It’s just the ultimate effort, the team concept. I don’t know, I’ve liked it ever since I was little. In high school I only averaged about 15 points and everybody wanted me to drop 30 or 40 or something. But I had really good teammates, just like I do now.
Q: Let’s go back to last year. You came here late, a late decision, and you were thrown into a situation that was in flux. You had a bunch of guys who were holdovers from Tony Bennett’s system and some new guys, yourself included, and you all had to mesh. How do you think that worked?
A: Last year, a lot of people said I looked really comfortable out there, even though I was a freshman. But that’s because of coach Bone’s system. I’ve been running up and down the court all my life. I’ve never (been) in a standstill system, ever. I think it was hard for some of the guys who, like you said, were in Tony Bennett’s system, to adjust to. But it was easy for me to adjust to. All of us, we come from a lot of different backgrounds, a lot different from high school and stuff, so it was pretty tough to mesh. But this year we’ve really been able to do that.
Q: Is that because of the summer work?
A: I wouldn’t say anybody forced it upon us. During the summer we just kind of hung out. We’re the only people here, so we have to hang out. It was unlike last summer, when we didn’t really hang out that much. But this summer the whole team was hanging out together.
Q: There’s some thought this team can only reach its potential if you reach your potential. Lot of pressure on a 20-year-old kid?
A: (Laughs) For me, I take it like an honor. To be mentioned like that, for people to think that highly of my game, or highly of myself, or highly of my leadership ability, I really like that. I think it’s a credit to my coaches and my teammates and my family. There’s no pressure really, I’m just excited to go out there and do it. I’d say there would be pressure if I didn’t know how I was going to do or if I didn’t know how hard I worked. It’s kind of like taking a test. If you didn’t study for it, it’s like “I don’t know how I’m going to do.” If you take a test and you study for it, you pretty much know how you’re going to do on that test.
Q: After one year, what kind of grade would you give yourself on the test that is college basketball?
A: My first year? I started off pretty good, kind of wound down during the season. My grandfather, even Aaron and my uncle talked to me about that. That’s just mental, and this year I will really focus on that. So I say probably about a C last year. My mom has never let me get a C in school. Every time I used to get a C she used to punish me in some sort of way. Hopefully I can do a lot better this year.
Q: It seems like you are pretty close to your mother (Lisa Moore Roberson). Why is that and what does she mean in your life?
A: We’re really close because the first 11 years of my life it was just her and I before she remarried to my stepfather. It was just her and I and we lived in Detroit, Mich., actually. It was pretty bad over there (laughs). So it was just her and I, basically all we had, so we had to live together. We went through ups and downs. I actually just got a tattoo with her name on my (left) wrist (and one of his aunt Nell on the other).
Q: Is one thing that helped by playing here is you are able to be that close to your family?
A: It was a huge part of the decision, because Miami and Memphis were both recruiting me and I told them straight off I couldn’t go that far, my mother wouldn’t be able to make it to the games, I really want her to be here. I mean she has a hard time even making it to some of these games, with her schedule and stuff. So that was huge. It’s something for her too, because she gets worried a lot about me, so as long as she’s close (to me), I know she’s happy.
Q: The rumor is when you decided not to go to Fresno, UW wanted you to come. The idea was for you to go to prep school then come back. But the scholarship just disappeared. Is that true?
A: It didn’t disappear at all, they still wanted me to come, but the main person who recruited me was Cameron Dollar. When he got the Seattle U. job he called me and said, “We still want you, know what I’m saying, but I’m just letting you know I’m going to Seattle U.” That was the guy I was close with, a lot of guys there were close with. Ya, it was still there but it wouldn’t be a great situation for me I don’t think. Just being in my city, I know way too much stuff there, stuff to do besides do homework and work out.
Q: And when Ken came along and offered you at Washington State, it must have been nice.
A: It was a really good opportunity. He had always come to my high school, when he was at Portland State, even when he was an assistant at UW. He would talk to me about Portland State, but they weren’t recruiting me much. But I knew him and I had seen him, (he was) a familiar face who was cool with my high school coach, Mike Bethea, so it was just a great opportunity. Plus coach (Curtis) Allen (a WSU assistant coach), playing for UW and knowing how it is to be a guard in the Pac-10.
Q: At times last year – I’m going to be brutally honest here – it sometimes seemed you were disinterested in playing at times. Is that unfair?
A: No, that’s not unfair. At times I would get, I even told my grandfather after games when it would happen, I just wasn’t into it. I wasn’t focused. I think it was just kind of a slump, of me not knowing what was going on, really. A lot of times, other people were telling me, “You don’t even look like a freshman,” but in my head, I had so much stuff going on. You know, what play to call, for most of the season coach just put it into my hands. I was like “wow,” you know? (Laughs) Sometimes it could be like that.
Q: Could part of it be the fact you never played a schedule that demanded so much mental concentration?
A: (Laughs) Ya, I think that was it. And I think this year under my belt has really helped me. My grandpa always asks me, “What have you improved on? What have you been doing?” And I tell him mainly, not really even my game, just the year under my belt was just so good. I remember my first (Pac-10) game, when we played Oregon here, it was a shock. I was like, boy, I’ve got to go through a whole year of this? These guys are so fast, these guys are so big. Man, I had to get used to it pretty fast. That year under my belt helped me so much.
Q: Did you have any role in Mike Ladd deciding to transfer here from Fresno State?
A: Mike and I have been really good friends since probably the fourth or fifth grade. Wherever I was going, I was going to tell him to come with me. (Laughs) When I was thinking about going to Cal, I was, “yo, you should come to Cal with me.” I guess I’ve always told him to come with me. So I guess that’s part of it, ya.
Q: Are you guys still close?
A: Oh, ya, we were extremely close. Even when we were separated at school, we talked all the time. We’re roommates now. We’re still close. Mike and I, we just have some sort of chemistry. It’s a chemistry I’m starting to build with Marcus (Capers) actually. Marcus and I didn’t have it last year as far as like him knowing when to cut and me knowing where Marcus is, where he’s going to be at. But Marcus is now seeing what I’ve been telling him when he sees Mike Ladd and I play together. He’s like, “now I see what you mean by this and that.” It’s really helped my relationship on the court with Marcus.
Q: What’s the upper limit on this team?
A: I think we can go all the way. We’re so competitive in practice right now. It’s so much different than last year. Guys are arguing with each other, but in a good way. They’re physical, pushing. We just want to win. Last year if somebody would have pushed somebody it would have been “ah, whatever.” But this year we’ve got a bite to us, an edge. I think that’s going through last year and just knowing our potential. I think it will be really good.
Q: Do you like the competition, even for say, your spot?
A: Me and X (Xavier Thames) were in the same position last year and we were as close of friends as you could possibly be. Growing up at Rainier Beach, we always had really good players to push us. I like when a player is as good as me or even better than me because he pushes me to the limit. I don’t like playing against people who aren’t going to push me or aren’t going to compete. So even if he gets better, that’s just going to push me better also.
Q: And by he, you do mean (freshman) Dre’ (Winston)?
A: Ya, he’s our only other point guard on the roster.
Q: The new guys, what do you see them bringing to the team?
A: Dre is really quick, he’s definitely going to push me in practice, which I look forward to. Faisal (Aden), he’s really good. He’s a lot better than I actually thought he was gonna be. He can shoot the ball well. And Pat (Simon), he can shoot the ball. Will (Dilorio) and Mike – Mike’s not going to be able to play this year, but just in practice he’s going to make us so much better. Going against those type of athletes, with him, Will, Faisal and Marcus on the wings, they remind me of Justin Holiday and (Quincy) Pondexter and those guys over at UW and other teams in the Pac-10. Just to go to practice against that, we couldn’t at all last year. We couldn’t know what to expect, we were just going into the game blindsided by pure athleticism. Now, it will just bring a lot more competition into practices. That’s why I think our practices have been a lot more fun this year so far.
That’s all for now. We’ll be at Paul Wulff’s press conference this afternoon and then we’re headed to practice. We’ll post our football story after that’s done. Until then …