BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Q&A WIth Sophomore Lonnie Jackson
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The Heights sat down with sophomore guard Lonnie Jackson to get his thoughts on the upcoming season. Jackson finished the season averaging 8.3 points per game, including a team-leading 39.9 shooting percentage from three-point range. This season, the California native will compete with two new recruits and find his role in head coach Steve Donahue’s growing system.
The Heights: What are your thoughts about how the team performed last year?
Jackson: It was a big learning curve, but overall we did a great job and the experience prepared us for this year. We knew that it was preparation for our future. I think a lot of people thought we were going to do a lot worse than we did, especially in the ACC. We had a shot to win a lot of games, and I think this year we’re going to get over the hump.
The Heights: How do you think you did individually last year?
Jackson: Overall, I think I did a pretty good job playing in my role, doing what the coaches wanted me to do. One of my goals was to make the starting lineup and just to contribute to our team’s success, and I’m going to continue to try to do that these next couple years. It was validating to be out there and compete with ACC players. It was a great experience to be able to play with them. This year, it’s the time to get better than them.
The Heights: As the season progressed, what role do you think you took on, and was that a role you anticipated or something new to you?
Jackson: I learned on the job and did what the team needed. I feel like it should expand a little bit this year when it comes to scoring. We lost Matt, who took a majority of our shots, and that’s where I think I’m going to fit in.
The Heights: Playing your first year of college ball, did you have to adjust your game at all to play at this level?
Jackson: At the beginning of the season, it was a big shock when we were beat down early in the season to some teams we should’ve beat (UMass, Holy Cross). Those games really opened our eyes to what we had to work on and where we needed to get to. Those early games were tough and embarrassing. We were all high school players at that time. Those were our first college games and we didn’t have anybody to show us how things worked, so we were just learning on the job. It was a tough time, but we pulled through. Also, [the college game] was just much more physical, and you have to be way more efficient. You have to make shots. In high school, you can get to the rim and finish over guys. So I feel like the biggest thing is finding the different thing you have to do—maybe kick it out instead of trying to finish over a big guy, those little things. Also, when you’re in high school, you can take a break on the defensive end, but now we’re playing against the best players, so there’s no breaks. If you take a break, you’re getting blown by and dunked on so every moment you’re on the floor you’ve got to be focused and there’s no plays off, and that’s the biggest thing.
The Heights: You talked last year about the idea of changing the basketball culture here at BC. Do you think last year’s team was able to move in that direction?
Jackson: I feel like we have a long way to go when it comes to changing the culture. It first starts with success on the court, and I feel like we’re making strides towards that. BC shows that we do have a good culture if there’s winning. With the hockey team, you see people going out. You see the fans and it inspires me when you watch the hockey team, and you see the fans out there and the pride, and I want that to be the same way for basketball.
The Heights: This offseason, what did you do specifically to prepare for this season and what areas did you focus on?
Jackson: Biggest thing for me was the conditioning, getting in the weight room. Also, I feel like last year I was deemed as a shooter but I wanted to expand some other parts of my game with ball handling, making plays for others, because last year they were running at me trying to get me off the three point line, so I got to be able to put it on the floor and make some plays. My biggest focus was just to work on my guard skills all around, along with the lifting and conditioning.
The Heights: With Joe Rahon and Olivier coming in, how do you see your place on this team changing at all?
Jackson: We’re still early in the season. We haven’t had a lot of games. Those two are definitely going to improve our team tremendously. They bring toughness, they can shoot, dribble. Right now, what I’m focused on is getting better personally and working on my skills to do what it takes for me to be on the floor and let the rest take care of itself. I’m not going to be the one deeming my role, so I’m just trying to keep my head down and keep working. It’s a competition—we all want to be out there. Whatever it takes to win, if that means me coming off the bench or me starting, it’s not a big deal.
I think our depth is a big improvement to our team this year because last year we didn’t have much depth. Our game is going to be sustained longer. Like last year, we would die off in the last five minutes of the game and a team would blow us out by 20, and we would be in the game the whole time until those last five minutes, but this year we’re going to have an extra push over that hump and start winning ball games.
The Heights: Do you feel any sense of rivalry at the guard position at this point in the season?
Jackson: It’s basically two different worlds—in between the lines and off the court. In between the lines, I’m not your friend, you’re not my friend. I’m going after you, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. We established as a team that this year we have to be more competitive and push each other more, and that’s what it takes to be a good team. We established that in between the lines it’s going to be a dogfight, but we’re going to be the best of friends when we step outside.