NCAA Tournament Interviews: Loyola (MD) Justin Drummond
Jon Teitel: During your senior year at Riverdale Baptist High School you played center despite weighing less than 200 pounds. How on earth were you able to survive down in the post?
Justin Drummond: I was the tallest person on my team so I pretty much played every position from one through five. It helped me become a good rebounder and develop some post moves.
JT: Last year you were planning to redshirt, but after missing the first eight games you got in the action and ended up making the MAAC All-Rookie Team. Why was there a change of plans, and how were you able to come in and be so successful so quickly?
JD: We were not doing too well to start the season, and then I got activated in the ninth game and everything quickly came together. I just tried to make an impact.
JT: You were recently named MAAC 6th Man of the Year. What is the key to coming off the bench, and would you feel better if you were starting?
JD: I just like to come in when we do not have any momentum and try to give my guys a boost. I have no problem coming off the bench.
JT: After arriving at Loyola eight years ago to fix a program that had just finished 1-27, head coach Jimmy Patsos was named 2012 MAAC Coach of the Year. What makes him such a great coach, and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him?
JD: He really cares about his players. He helps us with our overall game and shows us what it takes to get to the next level. I am known as a scorer, and he has given me plenty of tips.
JT: In December you scored a career-high 26 points in a loss at St. Bonaventure. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were "in the zone"?
JD: I told Coach to circle that game because I really wanted to play against them. I just wanted to have fun and show them that I could play.
JT: In the next game you made your second career start and scored ten points in a loss at Kentucky back in December. How good are they, and is Anthony Davis (who had 15 points and 11 rebounds) the greatest shot-blocker you have ever seen?
JD: Kentucky is a great team and has a huge fan base. It was a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience to go to Rupp Arena. Davis is the best shot-blocker in college basketball. There are no easy layups with him in the game.
JT: You scored eight points in a 48-44 win over Fairfield in the lowest-scoring title game in MAAC history. How were you able to hang on for the win, and what was the reaction like when you got back to campus?
JD: We just tried to stick together. It was a total team effort as we pulled away at the end. I have never seen anything like the standing ovation and TV cameras that were waiting for us when we got back to campus.
JT: You won seven straight games after losing your season opener, won 10 of 11 after losing your conference opener, lost three of four in mid-February before winning four straight to make the tournament. Do you feel like your team was playing its best basketball of the season earlier this year or right now?
JD: I think we were playing our best during the middle of the season, but we are still playing well right now. We have balanced scoring and good team defense, and I hope we can make some noise in the tourney.
JT: Your top four scorers are either sophomores or juniors. Do you think your team is built to win now, or do you think you can bring back the nucleus next year and make a serious run?
JD: I think next year we can repeat with the four of us coming back and keep the train moving with Coach behind us.
JT: What seed do you think you deserve, and what kind of team would you matchup against the best?
JD: I think we deserve a 12-13 seed. A lot of people have us going up against Michigan State, but I would like to play a team like Missouri who we can matchup with size-wise. After that it is just a battle of who wants it the most.