NCAA Tournament Interviews: Davidson's Jake Cohen and J.P. Kuhlman

    
March 8th, 2012

Just days after their win in the SoCon tournament final, CHN writer Jon Teitel was able to catch up with Davidson forward Jake Cohen and guard JP Kulhman. Along with De'Mon Brooks these two have been integral parts of Bob McKillop's team, which also won the SoCon regular season title. 

Jon Teitel: You brother Josh played football at Dartmouth. Who is the best athlete in the family?

Jake Cohen: That is a tough question. Josh is good at almost every sport he plays, so I guess he is the best.

JT: Your team returned seven of its top eight scorers from last year. What were the expectations going into the season?

JC: We had pretty high expectations and a lot of confidence in our guys after we had worked hard all summer.

JT: The SoCon tourney semifinals in Asheville, NC included four in-state teams (Western Carolina, Davidson, Elon, and UNCG). What was the atmosphere like in the final two rounds?

JC: It was exciting. The stadium got pretty loud pretty quick.

JT: You have gotten valuable contributions from foreign teammates like Nik Cochran (Canada) and Chris Czerapowicz (Sweden). Is there any difference in playing with a guy from another country versus a guy from the US?

JC: You can see it in some of the minor things, but at this point they have played in the US for so long that they are accustomed to the American game.

JT: You have lost to a pair of ranked teams this season (Duke and Wichita State). What did you learn from those two losses that will help you in March?

JC: We learned a lot about consistency. We played a good first half against Duke and a good first 30 minutes against Wichita State before we let each game get away from us.

JT: Coach Bob McKillop is the winningest coach in conference history and was recently named SoCon Coach of the Year for the eighth time. What makes him such a great coach, and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him?

JC: His attention to detail and intensity is amazing. He holds us accountable and makes sure that all of us are focused and ready to go.

JT: You had 17 points and seven blocked shots before fouling out in a two-point double overtime win over Western Carolina in SoCon tournament final. How were you able to hang on for the win, and what was the reaction like when you got back to campus?

JC: Coming back to campus was great, as a bunch of fans came out to welcome us. The win showed our team's resilience, as the Western Carolina guys made a bunch of tough shots at the end, but things worked out well for us.

JT: De'Mon Brooks was named both SoCon Player of the Year and conference tournament MVP. What makes him such a great player?

JC: He is outstanding due to his versatility both inside and outside. If you take away one aspect of his game, he still has two or three other aspects he can go to.

JT: You are the only player in the country with 1.5+ BPG and 85+ FT%. What is your secret for shot-blocking, and how does a 6'10" guy shoot free throws so well?

JC: Timing and anticipation are both key. I am not going to win any high-jump competitions! Another big help is that our guards are so tough on defense that it allow me to come in from the weak side because the other team is using so much effort just to get in the lane. I have been working on my foul shooting for a long time. I only shot 71% as a freshman, and I did not think that was good enough.

JT: What seed do you think you deserve, and what kind of team would you matchup against the best?

JC: I have not really kept up with all the seeding stuff. No matter who we get we have the confidence to play with them due to our non-conference schedule, and we will not be intimidated by anyone.

Guard JP Kuhlman

JT: Your father and two brothers played college basketball. Who is the best athlete in the family?

JP Kuhlman: I would actually say my little sister Maria, who as a 7th grader is the leading scorer on her 8th grade team. I also have a third brother who is a freshman at Belmont Abbey.

JT: Your team returned seven of its top eight scorers from last year. What were the expectations going into the season?

JK: We had high expectations and our goal was to win a conference title, so the hard work paid off.

JT: The SoCon tournament semifinals in Asheville, NC included four in-state teams (Western Carolina, Davidson, Elon, and UNCG). What was the atmosphere like in the final two rounds?

JK: It was great. Western Carolina probably had the biggest fan base as they are only 30 minutes away from Asheville.

JT: You have gotten valuable contributions from foreign teammates like Nik Cochran (Canada) and Chris Czerapowicz (Sweden). Is there any difference in playing with a guy from another country versus a guy from the US?

JK: Not too much. The accent might take some adjustment, as we always joke around about that, but a great player is great in any language.

JT: You have lost to a pair of ranked teams this season (Duke and Wichita State). What did you learn from those two losses that will help you in March?

JK: Going to each game expecting to win and playing with a high level of confidence (such as leading Duke by one at halftime).

JT: Coach Bob McKillop is the winningest coach in conference history and was recently named SoCon Coach of the Year for the eighth time. What makes him such a great coach, and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him?

JK: I learned how much he cares about us as players every day in practice. It is "tough love", but it is for our own good and the good of the team.

JT: You scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a two-point double overtime win over Western Carolina in SoCon tournament final. How were you able to hang on for the win, and what was the reaction like when you got back to campus?

JK: We were up by 12 with two minutes left in regulation so it was tough to stay in the right mindset when they came all the way back to send it into overtime, but Coach kept us motivated. Having our fans greet us when we got back was fun, and it will be great this weekend as many of them return from spring break on Sunday.

JT: De'Mon Brooks was named both SoCon Player of the Year and conference tournament MVP. What makes him such a great player?

JK: He is just a determined player who will often get his own rebound and put it back in. He is relentless on the offensive end.

JT: You were recently named an Academic All-American. How do you balance your work in the classroom (3.8 GPA) with your work on the court?

JK: It takes a lot of focus on time management. The coaches and professors do a great job giving us the right amount of time for what we need to do.

JT: What seed do you think you deserve, and what kind of team would you matchup against the best?

JK: From what I hear we might get anywhere from a 13-15 seed, so a 12-13 seed would be great. A team like Michigan has a similar style to us, so I think that would be a fun game for us to play.