October 26, 2009
Lawal talks about expectations
The Georgia Tech basketball program looked to be set up for a stellar 2009-10 season when they got the best news they could possibly get when junior forward Gani Lawal opted to withdraw from the NBA draft and come back for another season of basketball. Lawal and freshman Derrick Favors give the Jackets one of the best frontcourts in the country. Jacketsonline caught up with Lawal to discuss playing with Favors and the upcoming season.
What are your thoughts on the beginning of another year?
"It is good to be practicing and that means another year is starting up."
What do you think of this new facility?
"It is definitely nice. If you get a chance to look around, it has a nice weight room with state of the art equipment. I am happy that is was built on time. A lot of times they have a target date and they don't quite reach it."
What is it like playing with Derrick Favors?
"I won't say too much about that, I will let you be the judge of that. Everybody knows about Favors and he is a good player who works hard and it will be fun playing with him."
Do you think it will help having another presence down low?
"I know it will help."
How do you two work together down there?
"We are both good basketball players who are going to play hard. I try to do what I can to help our squad."
How much did the talent level of this team play into your decision to come back for another season?
"When I decided to come back I knew I was coming into a good situation with the upperclassmen coming back and with Derrick, Mfon Udofia, Glen Rice Jr. and Brian Oliver. We have a good core of freshmen players, so it is a good mix."
What is it like playing with three ball-handlers on the court?
"Having D'Andre back is big too, I didn't mention that earlier. His senior leadership and the way he knows the system is big."
How big of an impact will Bell have?
"He brings a lot to the team. I am happy he is even able to play basketball and that is a miracle and a blessing in itself. What he brings to this team is something that we missed last year. We really did. I am looking forward to having him back."
Are you looking forward to get some payback on teams this year?
"Very much so, I won't say any names or call anyone out."
What is the biggest area of improvement in your game?
"My free throws and just looking at film, I want to know where to be on the court. I want to be a defensive presence and be in the right spots."
Did you work on your outside shot?
"You always work on that as a basketball player. I think that all basketball players are consistently doing that. I do not threes, but a consistent 15-footer and a shot off the glass will help. I will continue to polish that and it is always a work in progress."
After going through the NBA evaluations, are you working on specific weaknesses that were pointed out?
"Yes, obviously basketball is basketball, but when you get somebody that a GM of an NBA team telling you that, you take it to heart. I take those things and work on them everyday. Things like my free throws and taking my time in the post. Reading defense and being in the right place on defense. I have been breaking them down on film and taking notes how to be a better presence on the defensive side of the ball."
Do you have a newfound perspective on things after going through the NBA machine?
"The bottom line this year is that I want to win and win by any legal means. I do not want to do anything illegal, but going 2-14 is not fun. If my numbers have to go down, who cares as long as we are winning and are a good team. I am at point now as a junior, and we have had two losing seasons since I have been here and I want to turn it around. We have what it takes."
How important is the depth now especially when you want to take a breather?
"It is great. We have all the pieces and we are loaded point blank."
What do the freshmen other than Derrick bring to the table?
"They bring a lot and we still have a lot to learn, but I think Mfon Udofia is going to really come on strong. Obviously, everyone knows about Derrick, but Mfon is going to help us a lot from the point guard position. He has a real knowledge of the game and he has been soaking up everything like a sponge. He will be good to have an extra ball-handler out there let you mentioned."
How important is the outside shooting this year to avoid defenses doubling down on you?
"The outside shooting with Lance Storrs will be a lot better. He is shooting the ball exceptionally well and I am expecting big things from him this year. The outside shooting will definitely be a threat this year. There will not be as many double teams on the block either because you cannot double Derrick and me at the same time. It is mathematically impossible."
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