Next up in Jon Teitel's interview series is Lehigh point guard Marquis Hall, the man whose responsibility is to get the ball to stars C.J. McCollum and Zahir Carrington. First up for the Patriot League champion Mountain Hawks: none other than top-ranked Kansas.
Jon Teitel: You had a 4.0 GPA in high school, were named class valedictorian as a senior, and just earned your 2nd-straight conference scholar-athlete of the year award. What value do you place on academics, and how does your intelligence help you on the court?
Marquis Hall: Academics are very important to me because your education is something that no one can take from you and what helps you be successful in life. I think this helps me on the court because it allows me to pick up on things that other teams may be doing making the game a little easier.
JT: You grew up in Portland, OR. How did you end up deciding to go to Lehigh?
MH: On my visit to Lehigh, the academics and the people here really made a large impression on me. I knew that this was a school that really wanted me in their program and I felt like I fit in well with the team.
JT: In 2007 you were named Lehigh's 1st-ever conference Rookie of the Year. How were you able to come in and contribute as a freshman, and how were you able to have such an easy transition from high school to college?
MH: As a freshman, I had a great group of seniors around me that really helped show me the ins and outs of what college basketball was about, which helped my transition. Other than that it was just hard work and dedication to being the best player I could be and help the team.
JT: Early in your sophomore year you hit 2 game-winning shots in a four-day stretch vs. St. Peters and St. Francis. How are you able to be such a clutch player, and where does that rank among the best weeks of your life?
MH: I think that it just comes with hard work and wanting the ball in those types of situations. Every day that you are in the gym, you are preparing for those kinds of situations, and I was just fortunate enough to capitalize. I did not realize that I had actually done that until just now by reading the question, so I would have to say that it was 1 of my better weeks, but definitely not the best: after winning the Patriot League tournament, this week is now the best.
JT: You are team captain. How proud are you to be captain, and what makes you such a good leader?
MH: I am very proud to be a captain, and happy that my team trusts me with that type of responsibility. In terms of leadership, I just try to lead by example. I am not perfect, but I just try to make sure that I do what I expect out of others.
JT: Your coach Brett Reed is one of only three D-1 men's basketball head coaches to have a PhD. Is it intimidating to have a coach who is so smart, and what are the most important lessons he has taught you about life/basketball?
MH: It is not intimidating because most of the time we are talking basketball with Coach Reed, which is something that we all understand. Coach Reed has taught me to stand up for the things that I believe in, no matter what they are. If you believe in them, they are worth fighting for.
JT: You are the only Patriot League player with 1,500+ PTS and 500+ AST. How are you able to balance your scoring and passing so well to help your team succeed?
MH: I just try to go out every night and do what the team needs me to do in order to win. If that is scoring, then I will try and provide that; if its passing, then I will try and do that as well.
JT: You earned a spot in the NCAA tourney this year after being knocked out in the 1st round of the conference tourney by Army in each of your first three years. What did it mean to you to finally win the conference title, and was it extra-special to beat Army in this year's conference tourney?
MH: It meant everything to me to be able to win it this year with my team and group of seniors. Winning a Patriot League championship was what we all came here to do, and we are very happy to be able to have accomplished that. Beating Army in the 1st round was a good moment for us, but if we would not have won the tournament then it would not have meant anything.
JT: You finished your career with most assists in school history. Do you realize how prolific a player you have become, or do you think it will not set in until you look back on it in the future?
MH: I do not think that it will set in until sometime in the future. Right now I am just trying to stay focused on the season and our team's success.
JT: How do you like your chances against one-seed Kansas, and what is your main goal for the tourney?
MH: We know that playing Kansas will be a challenge, as they have been the #1 team in the country pretty much all year, but we are excited to play them. Our main goal is to come out and play hard and leave everything out on the court.