|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
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
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!