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Matt Engstrom

Drury University

















Matt Engstrom is a 6'9" center who is transferring to Drury University for the 2002-03 season after playing two seasons of basketball at Southwest Missouri State University. The Panthers new big man will try and help lead Coach Gary Stanfield's team to a championship in the Heartland Conference.

1) Matt, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Could you describe the process of transferring schools, and a little bit about why you decided that a change was necessary?

Well, 1st you must get a release from the athletic director. Then once you get a release you have to get the word out that you are looking to transfer. Once this is done, the schools start calling and it's almost like being recruited in high school, although you have a much better understanding of what a school is like and the kinds of questions you need to ask. This is good because you can see how similar the school you're talking to is to the one you're leaving. There are so many questions that you would never think to ask when you're in high school. It makes the process much easier. But on the flip side there are the questions as to where you want to go. Do you want to go back home? Do you want to stay in the area you are in? Or do you want to go far away? Then it just comes down to being patient, weighing your options and making the best decision. I left SMS because things were not working out. Had I left a year or two earlier I wouldíve transferred to another D1 school, but since NCAA rules allow a D1 transfer to move to D2 and play immediately, D2 was the way I chose to go. I would have had to sit out a year had I chosen D1, then I would only have had one year to play. So I found Drury, which was in town and they had confidence in me and knew that I could come in and contribute right away. They were very eager to get me in a Panther uniform. Our goals and philosophies are similar as well. I now have 2 years to play and make my contribution to Drury.

2) Drury has had a solid basketball program over the last decade under the guidance of Coach Stanfield. However, the school is coming off a sub par season by its standards(12-15) and is losing its two leading scorers(Matt Miller & Brandon Morris). How successful can this year's team be? Are there >any specific goals in place for the new season?

This team can be very successful this year and many years to come. I do believe that last season was the first losing season Drury has had in something like 24 years. So, last season obviously wasn't a fun one, I was not there and I do not know what the deal was. But that's over with and we have a really good team coming into this next season. We are looking forward having a great season Speaking of our goals- as with many teams we want to be the strongest team on the floor. We want to play the hardest. We want to be in the best shape. We want to do all the little things right that will help us have a great year. Our goal is to advance as far as possible in the tournament. In order to do that we must win games. Make it through the tough times. Be the most focused. Win our conference. I feel that this team is capable of a national championship. And I look forward to doing my share and making sure that this year comes together.

3) How is your health level heading into the new season? How large a role are you prepared on playing this year?

My health is good. I am ready to have a big role on this team. I want to be a leader and do things by example. I think that this is very attainable. I have been told that in order for this team to have a successful season, I must be a force inside. Itís been awhile since I have had that opportunity. That was never really presented to me at SMS, although Iím sure that others would beg to differ. But I am really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and start playing again. Iím prepared to take as much as they can give. Iíll be ready come season. Iíve spent a lot of time in the weight room, watching my weight, trying get in the best shape I could. Watching my diet was a big part of that. I feel good coming in; I feel that my hard work will pay off.

4) How familiar are you with Drury's other ball players? Have you had a chance to play a lot with them?

Well, being that I chose to stay in Springfield, it was very easy to familiarize myself with Drury and the players as soon as I had decided to go there. We have played quite a bit. All spring and all summer. I am no stranger to Drury. The transition was very easy.

5) You had an impressive high school career coming out of Mahomet-Seymour HS in Illinois, including the honor of being the school's only four year basketball letterman. Why did you decide to originally attend SMS? Did you consider staying in state to play ball? Were there any other schools you considered attending this time around?

Originally I decided to attend SMS because of Steve Alford. I can honestly say, and I truly believe that I would never, ever have come to SMS if it were not for coach Alford. I would have chosen any other school and probably had a better experience (basketball wise). The school and the people were great but as far as the basketball, I would have had a much better time. There were plenty of other schools that I had in mind. My final 4 were SMS, Ball State, TCU, and Ohio State. My recruiting process was very long and tedious one. I have hundreds of letters at home in the attic. And I probably had upwards of 35 offers. (Although I can't remember the exact number.) Most of which were mid-major to major. This time I chose from a much smaller variety of schools. All D2. I made 3-4 visits to different schools over the course of my spring break. University of Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois @Edwardsville, Lewis University, and Drury University. I narrowed it down to Lewis university and Drury University. In the end Drury seemed to be the best fit. One thing that really caught me off-guard was after I had signed I received many more calls. Probably 10 more schools called me, after I signed. But regardless, itís amazing how fast the word traveled that I was looking to transfer.

6) It must be an easy transition for you going across town to change schools. Do you think you'll still end up following SMS throughout the season? What type of season do you expect your former team to have?

Will I follow SMS? Somewhat, obviously I will be aware of the season they are having. I have no clue as to what type of season they will have. I just wish them good luck.

7) I have a question about your feelings about college hoops in general. You'll have the experience of playing on both the Division 1 and Division 2 levels. How close is the talent gap between the two levels?

Many people choose different schools for different reasons. There are many players who would be considered D1 players coming out of high school or juco that choose D2. There are plenty of very talented players at the D2 level. Lots of times it seems like D2 is just a label. I feel that we, without a doubt have the best big men in the conference. I also have much confidence in our guard positions. We have some outstanding perimeter players, any of whom can step up and make the big play when needed. I think that this year we can't help but have very balanced scoring attack. But defense is our main concern.

8) Is there anything special you'd like to tell Drury fans, and other hoop fans from around Missouri and the country?

Just that Iím glad Iím a Panther now and that Iím looking forward to a fantastic season. Just make sure that you pay attention to Drury throughout the year, if we're not all over the news. (Which Iíd very much like us to be). Go Panthers!






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