Shawn Siegel (responses are copied directly from e-mail text)
Varner is a 6-7 Junior out of Holladay, Utah. The scoring forward
played a year at Pepperdine before transfering to SLU, where he
averaged 4 points and 3 rebounds per game for the Billikens.
1)Last year you guys played some of your tougher non-conference
games at home (SIU, Mizzou, Washington). This season, however, you
face some challening road foes before conference play starts (Arizona,
Butler, St. Bonaventure), as well as home match-ups with Dayton & SIU.
Was there a concscious effort by the program to step up the schedule?
Do you think this will help the team in the long run?
Saint Louis University is
constantly trying to improve and so are we as
a team. As we strive to take this team and program to the next level
we must be able to compete with against tougher and tougher
opponents. This year we do have some challenging road opponents and
as well as some tough home games as well as an already tough
conference schedule. In playing these games against some good quality
teams we will have the opportunity to prepare not only for conference,
but also for the post season, which is the goal of every team. I
really do think that our team will be better as a result of this
tougher schedule and we will be able to achieve the goals which we
have set for this program.
2)What can you tell us about your relationship with Coach Soderberg?
What type of style and attitude does he bring to the head coaching
Coach Soderberg is an great coach, but even a better person. He
really has the respect of the whole team. He is a man of integrity
and has a lot of passion for the game. His passion is contagious and
it is being passed on to the whole team. Coach has set some high
goals for us as a team, but he doesn't set goals just to set them. He
sets goals to achieve them. He has shown his confidence in us and our
abilities by setting those high goals
3)Tell us about the trip to Spain & France the team made over
summer. I know you're there to practice basketball, but it still must
be pretty fun & exciting for the team.
The trip to Spain and
France was a lot of fun. We had the great
opportunity to begin to learn the new system of Coach Soderberg and
also see some great sites. Another advantage from this trip is that I
feel we grew closer as a team. To make sure we took full advantage of
the opportunity Coach was always telling us to play as hard as we
could on the court, but as soon as we were off of it to enjoy the
scenery and sites. That way we were able to see as much as we wanted,
but also learn a lot about our new system.
4)You transfered to St. Louis after your Mormon Mission to Latvia
and a year of basketball at Pepperdine. What led you to transfer to
SLU? Have you been satisfied with the results?
I transferred to SLU based
on the relationship I had with the previous
coach, Lorenzo Romar, who coached me while I was at Pepperdine. I am
very pleased with the change. The education that I am receiving is
great and the level of basketball is also superb. I really feel
blessed to have had the opportunities that I have had here at SLU.
5)I noticed on your bio it says you learnt Latvian sign-language on
your mission. Thats a skill that not too many people can claim to
have. Kidding aside, you've also had a quality academic career (last
year's Billikens Scholar Athlete). Is acadmic success something you
pride yourself on? What are your plans after college?
As you pointed out, I was
the Scholar Athlete last year for our team. I
really enjoy learning. That is the second best thing about playing
college basketball, is the free education. That is especially true
here at SLU. Saint Louis University is a great university and I feel
I need to take advantage of my time here. Right now I have a double
major- International Business and also Russian. I am not quite sure
what I am going to do exactly with those degrees, but I know that it
will be something in business. I am also condsidering going to grad
school once basketball is all over and that might lead me down some
6)Last year, you were a consistent contributor off the bench for
Coach Romar. How do you plan on increasing your role this year? I
noticed your FG% dipped greatly(.492 to .402) from your first season
with the Wave. Was this just a product of not playing D1 basketball in
Last year my shooting percentage did take a bit of a drop over the
course of the year and I really can not pin down one reason or another
exactly why, but the main point is that it did. This has been a great
summer for me because it has been my first offseason of my career
because of my mission and what not. I really have been putting in a
lot of work on my game and especially my shot so that my percentage
will not take any severe dips this season, but that it should be quite
consistent. I like the new offense that Coach Soderberg has brought
with him and I feel it will benefit my game and what I bring to the
table. It should be a really fun year and I am looking forward to it.
7)I know its hard to say, but if everything goes well, what are the
realistic maximum expectations for this year's team?
I really think that we have
what it takes to be a real good team this
year, even one of the top teams in Conference USA. We have been
working hard as a team and with the help of our coaching staff nothing
except ourselves should hold us back. We honestly believe that we can
be in the field of 64 in March and that is what we strive for everyday
as we take the court.
I'd like to thank Ross
for taking the time to answer our questions. The whole
Collegehoopsnet team wishes him the best of luck during the new