October 13, 2009

Peacock talks about the upcoming season

The Georgia Tech basketball program is coming off one of their worst season since the 1996-97 season, but with an influx of top talent and some players returning from injury-plagued years, the expectations are high heading into the 2009-10 campaign. Senior forward Zach Peacock wants to go out with a bang in his final season as a Yellow Jacket. Jacketsonline caught up with Peacock to discuss the upcoming season.

How do you feel about this upcoming season?

"I feel like it is getting tougher and tougher especially with the way the season went last year and all the downfalls last season. I feel like all of that stuff from last year I can take and use this season."

Are you looking forward to some additional help in the frontcourt this year?

"Yes definitely, we Derrick (Favors), Gani (Lawal) and me, between us and maybe Daniel (Miller) it is a great help and we will have a chance to breath."

With the rules changes to the amount of practices do you think this team will be better prepared for the grind of the season?

"Every time you get a chance to get the team together is always an advantage. I think it will help out during the season and it is an advantage to the other teams."

Are things slowed down by having some many new faces?

"I think it is chance to get the younger guys involved. It is always an advantage for us to play."

Do you think the upperclassmen have a chip on their shoulders after the rough sailing the last year and a half?

"Definitely, I can speak for myself, and I definitely do given the fact we had the season that we did last year and this is my last year. I am trying to go out with a bang."

Last year you had a chance to play on the wing a lot and handle the ball. This year you should see more time inside. How did that help your ball handling?

"It was fun and exciting, but I would like to be done with that. For me it was always my dream to play out there on the wing, but it is a lot tougher than it looks. I believe it does help me playing in the post. That makes me a lot more versatile than other four-men. I can easily drive past them."

How is your weight?

"I have not lost weight and I am back to 240. Last year it was trouble and I was about 225 playing on the wing."

What have the mini-practices shown you about the team's ability to come in and compete?

"The main thing about these mini-practices is that they are pretty tough. They are building mental toughness. I think it will pay off in the long run and we will be able to finish games."

Were you heartbroken you did not go to Canada?

"I would not say heartbroken, but I was more disappointed. That is somewhere I have never been before and it was an opportunity to get some games under our belt and see what we actually have."

Is there a higher level of excitement given there are no clear favorites in the ACC this year?

"I really don't get in that. I always tell people I am here to play basketball and get my degree. Whoever they pick to be first is the least of my concerns."

Everyone has heard a lot about Derrick Favors. What can you tell us about his game?

"He is an interesting player. He is a fun player to watch, who is very smart and hardworking as coach Hewitt says. I sit and watch his individual workout and wish I could have the ability and length he has. It is just amazing to watch him."

How do the other freshmen look?

"Mfon is the energizer bunny and the dude never stops. Glen Rice is a long talented player. Brian he shoots the air of the ball and he is going to develop into a great shooter one of these days."

Has there been more intensity with all the young talent around the team now?

"Yeah, who wants to sit on the bench, so that kind of drives each player to put their maximum effort out there every time."

Have you spent any time with Maurice Miller since his concussion?

"Yeah, I sat down and had a couple of conversations with him and he is doing pretty good. He kind of wishes that never happens because he feels like that put him in a setback situation."

Is seems like Miller just has a steam of bad luck.

"Yeah it is very unfortunate."

Is it an inspiration for you guys to see D'Andre Bell back out there?

"It is definitely a blessing to have such great leadership like him. That is role model type leadership that you can go off of. That is great and he is going to play a role in our success this season as well."

What is the single most important lesson you have started teaching the freshman?

"Coach John O'Connor has a thing about not having any gaps. In the game of basketball and life, in general, you will make mistakes, but you have to keep going. You cannot think about the mistake you made, you have to keep playing. He likes to use it as having no gaps. That is the biggest thing I try to teach them. Don't make mistakes; just try to make up for it when you do."

Do you see them doing that?

"Yeah for the most part, they try. They still revert back to their old ways and start thinking about the play or getting down on themselves, but that is what we are there for."

What was the hardest part for you as a freshman?

"Remembering the plays, I had a very tough time with that. I had to take extra time, just like study hall. I had to sit down with the coaches and our film guy and make more books and demonstrations on CDs and everything. In high school, I was used to give me the ball and move. I was more anxious to play in the game and I would not consider it being nervous. I always get butterflies and sometimes still do get butterflies, but as soon as the game starts that all fades away."

How big is it to have Gani Lawal back?

"That is big. I think with Gani coming back because if he would have left, I will not say we would struggle, but with him coming back, it is kind of like a relief. You know Gani is going to give you all he has every time. On the offensive side, he just a bruiser. You always know what to expect from Gani. I think it will be a very big help."

Did you think he was coming back?

"I had my doubts and I was hoping and wishing the best for him because everyone wants to go onto the next level and make some money playing this game. I was hoping that he did, but I was like yes, he can come back and help us win the championship."

Can you tell me what the goals for the season are as a team?

"We try not to think long term, so basically everything is short term. We want to get in the best shape we can for when the games come so we have enough energy for the game. We take it one day at a time. We want to be in the best shape we can and be mentally tough."

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