July 14, 2010
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Hawkeye junior Matt Gatens answered a few questions for hawkeyesports.com
What parts of your game have improved the most since last season? Are you working on anything specific?
Gatens: “I have done a lot of work on my ball handling over the summer; I feel like that has improved a lot. Coach (Kirk) Speraw has been on me a lot about that. He has been giving me drills and things to work on. I have been working on my left hand to improve that and continue to work on agility and quickness in the weight room.”
How has it been getting to know Coach Fran McCaffery?
Gatens: “It has gone really well. Coach has done a good job right from when he came in a few months ago. He has done a great job getting to know everybody and has communicated really well. I have gotten to know him on a personal level, meeting with him a lot and hanging out and working camps. I coached Coach’s son Connor at camp, which was fun, but he (Coach McCaffery) was on me whenever we lost and said it was the coach’s fault. Whenever we lost Coach was on me for being a bad coach and that was fun. It has been great getting to know his family and all the coaches. He is a good guy and the few workouts we had went really well. He seems like a good coach and a good teacher of the game.”
How has it been getting to know the rest of the coaching staff: Coach Francis, Coach Dillard, Coach Speraw, and Coach Bowen?
Gatens: “It has been a lot of fun getting to know the new staff. They have been on the road a lot so we have not been around them too often but they were around during camp and when they were first hired and it has been great getting to know them on a personal level. I knew Coach Dillard a little bit from Nike Camps and I know he is very well-connected. I was very impressed with that hire. Coach Speraw has been great! Being a former player and a head coach at Central Florida he is very experienced and is an outstanding coach. Coach Francis seems like a great guy. He was the first one hired so I have been around him the most so far and he has been a lot of fun getting to know. Coach Bowen has been a lot of fun and is a terrific guy. He is someone you could learn a lot from, playing in the NBA for that long, he is someone you can look up to and try to follow. It has been awesome getting to know all of them and taking everything you can from them and learn what they expect from you.”
How do you feel the new staff will help you develop or has helped you develop as a basketball player?
Gatens: “We have had a few workouts on the court. It mostly consisted of teaching us the system, the defense and different philosophies. Coach (Kirk) Speraw is always on me about my ball handling. Coach Fran (McCaffery) is always on me about getting quicker. He always talks about me finishing at the hole and being more aggressive. Working on these will help me be more comfortable when I am on the court.”
Coach Fran McCaffery wants to play a faster, more up-tempo style of play. How are you preparing for that?
Gatens: “That was one of his biggest things coming in; he wanted us to change the way we lifted and our body shape. We had a lot of guys built for the half-court game. He wants to bring in the up-tempo pace and up-and-down press and fast break so we have to be in better shape and have better endurance. We need to be leaner, lighter and quicker and that is what he has talked to me about; slimming down a little bit and working on my quickness and agility in the weight room. I have worked on my conditioning a lot. Everybody is showing up and working hard in the weight room. We are all getting there and are going to be ready when the season comes.”
“Everybody around town seems excited and I hope they come to the games. That is what we really need is fans in the seats because that will really help us out. As they say, `let’s get Carver rockin’ again’ because it is a real home court advantage when it is full and it can really help us out. It seems like everyone is excited so hopefully everyone shows up and supports us.”
What has it been like playing with the incoming guys? Can they help the team this year? Who has impressed you the most?
Gatens: “I think they all I can help; I think they all are going to play a lot of minutes. Melsahn (Basabe) has been great in Prime Time (League) and in our pickup games. He is a guy who is physically ready. He can finish around the rim and can really run the floor for a big guy. (Zach) McCabe has impressed me a lot. He shot the ball really well in the game we played against him. He is a bigger guy with size who can handle the ball. He can also play defense and get down the court. Devyn (Marble) is a long kid who is quick and can do a lot of things. He can bring it up the court and can shoot as well. They are all good guys and are all fun to be around. They are going to be good teammates and have already meshed well with the team.”
Have you seen a higher level of excitement surrounding the basketball program over the last few months?
Gatens: “Coach has done a great job getting the fans excited. I went to a few I-Club functions and the fans are tremendous there. Coach (McCaffery) spoke and did a great job. It was a lot of fun socializing with the fans and listening to what they had to say. Everybody around town seems excited and I hope they come to the games. That is what we really need is fans in the seats because that will really help us out. As they say, `let’s get Carver rockin’ again’ because it is a real home court advantage when it is full and it can really help us out. It seems like everyone is excited so hopefully everyone shows up and supports us.”
You are known to be a pretty solid golfer as well. Have you been out much this summer? Who is better; you or your dad?
Gatens: “I played a lot right when school got out. I have not been out much lately due to workouts and working camps. Hopefully, I can get out a little more because I like getting out on the course. I am better now. He is good; he use to be better than me but he does not hit it very far anymore. Actually, he is probably still a better player than me because I can’t putt.”
How is your academic career path coming along?
Gatens: “It is going well. I am pretty satisfied. I am right on track to graduate and get my degree. I made academic all-Big Ten last year and that was a proud moment. My mom was happy.”
What are your goals for the 2010-11 season?
Gatens: “I want to make the (NCAA) Tournament. That has to be the goal. Whenever you do not do that, I think it is a failure. I definitely want to make the tournament before my career is up and we might as well start now. That would be a lot of fun and I think that is the goal we have to set.”
What have you been doing with your free time this summer?
Gatens: “During the week there is no free time but I have been to Chicago a few times on the weekends to visit my sister. I went to a (Chicago) Cubs game and a Jimmy Buffet concert one weekend. I golfed a little bit right when school was out but since we have gotten busy with workouts I have not been out much.”