Tony Parker talks on Tuesday:
Q: we’re here with Tony Parker. So just talk about it felt to kind of play such big minutes the other night.
TP: oh, it was good. To get into the game. Help my teammates. I knew Travis [Wear] was out so I knew I had to come in and step up. We had a tough time guarding the 2 bigs. USC’s got 2 great bigs. The guy from India [Omar Oraby] and [Dewayne] Dedmon. They really played well. But it was just a matter of me just playing, getting a feel. Larry [Drew II] wanted to run the pick-and-roll so we ran it, and it worked for us.
Q: do you feel like things are starting to come together for you? Is this the best you felt since you got here?
TP: yes. It’s getting close to tournament time so all of us are just trying to pick it up. With Trav out, we really had to step it up. The freshmen, they’ve all been helping me and telling me what to do and what not to do so it was kind of easy for me to just come in and play right away.
Q: Larry said he’s had to remind you a lot in practice just to use your size. Is that something you feel like you’re a little more comfortable doing now?
TP: oh yeah. Larry’s so small so his vision of a big man is totally different. A lot of thing he says about using the body is usually a foul, but Larry’s a great guy. It’s just funny. It’s fun playing with Larry. He’s a really good guy. He really knows how to pass the ball. And he loves running pick-and-roll with me because he just feels like I’m a real center. And he feels comfortable with giving me the ball in the post rather than the pops. So he just always tells me, “just roll, roll.” So, I mean, it’s cool. Larry’s a great guy.
Q: seems like you guys had a real connection in the last game. He was really getting it to you inside.
TP: yeah, he did the same thing in the Arizona game when I played. It was just a matter of picking up basically where we left off because he loves the pick-and-roll. He loves to run flat because he’s so fast. He’ll work against Jahii Carson too. Jahii Carson’s fast. So it’ll be fun to see those guys go at it. And he just loves it. So I wanted to run it for him, and he just kept calling me up to do it so ran it so he could.
Q: what do you think the biggest adjustment’s been for you from kind of high school ball to playing college?
TP: more of the defensive aspect. You do a lot more on defense than in high school. There’s a lot more technicalities. And with the shot clock, you don’t play defense as long. So I mean, it’s quick, but you have to judge really really fast.
Q: what are you looking for on the pick-and-roll? [audio difficulties]
TP: when we set the screen on the pick-and-roll… I really love when the big helps. When he helps, it’s easier to get my layup off but when they switch, it’s really easy. Utah switched and I ran with Larry and we scored.
Q: ‘SC switched.
TP: ‘SC loves to switch because Dedmon can guard almost all 5 positions so it’s easier to score on the smaller guys. So when they switch, Larry loves it. His eyes light up, and I just know exactly what he’s going to do.
Q: how are you feeling mentally? A lot was made a couple of months about where you were.
TP: oh, no. I’m fine. I’m totally fine. I’m doing great right now. It’s fine. We’re hitting the home stretch. Hopefully we get into the NCAA Tournament. We could have a lot of fun.
Q: has it helped kind of with the team playing a lot better over the last couple of months kind of dealing and adjusting to college and that sort of thing?
TP: oh yeah. It’s been great. Season’s going to have its ups and downs. So us just sticking together and just playing hard is what we’re really trying to do, and it’s working for us.
Q: Kyle [Anderson] said you guys all used to come into the gym and shoot together. All the freshmen. What was that like, kind of when you were going through that down period and all you guys were in here kind of getting up shots but you weren’t playing as much?
TP: I mean, it was cool. I had the muscle aches so I shot the best. Don’t tell them I said that. Me and Jordan [Adams] go at it. In warmups sometimes, we shoot against each other. It’s all fun. We love to shoot with each other. We get better. We have fun. It’s pretty cool.
Q: especially with Travis out, do you guys have a sense of how much you need to lock down on [Jordan] Bachynski and how much he did against you guys in the last game? is that really the focus?
TP: um, yeah. He can’t do what he did for them. He’s a great player. Bachynski. He’s a definite pro. He has a great left-hand jump hook, and we’re all right-handed so guarding the left-hand post is kind of different. He uses his size really well. He’s 7’2”. Second in the nation in shot blocks. He’s a pretty good kid. It’s going to be hard to stop him. But you have to contain him. You have to get physical with him. Hopefully that works, and we’ll try to see what we can do.
Q: is that a big test for you? Just… especially with what Larry said, maybe being a little bit more physical and getting used to that, going up against a guy who you need to be more physical with, is that a big test for you?
TP: yeah, it is, it is, but it works in my favor. Because he’s tall and long, and I’m kind of shorter and wider so it’s a little bit easier for me than it is for him.
Q: Coach [Howland] said you guys were a bunch of gym rats. Do you get the sense that as long as you put in the work, it’ll pay off sooner or later?
TP: oh yeah. I’ve been playing basketball all my life. Basketball is for me. I have to be in the gym. It’s fun. We get paid to come here and play. Do what we can. It pays off. We come here. We play hard. All the fans love us. That’s our pay. And it works out for us. To see guys. To see kids come around and walk around. We don’t need money or anything. It’s just to see kids come happy and watch us play and I feel like if we put the work in, they’ll keep coming.
Q: Coach Howland said he kept telling you, “your opportunity’s going to come, your opportunity’s going to come…” Do you feel like maybe right now, we’re in the middle of that opportunity? That it’s here for you take advantage of?
TP: yeah, it is. It is. Kind of. Sort of. But I mean, it’s just about being here for my teammates and playing hard. If I play 5 minutes, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, it’s all the same thing. If we win, I’m perfectly fine.
Q: how much easier was it for you on Sunday? It was kind of the most extended minutes you’ve gotten. Instead of just maybe coming in for 3 minutes and then coming back out for another 2 minutes.
TP: yeah, it was cool. I’ve played basketball before so I was playing. Keep playing and if he wants to pull me out, that’s perfectly fine. I’m perfect with Coach Howland so it was great. I got to play with my guys. It was fun.
Q: how much easier is it to kind of develop your rhythm though when you can stay in for 5 to 8 minutes rather than getting 2 minutes at a time?
TP: it’s way easier. You get a little looser. You get a little comfortable. That just comes with the game. You start to get the feel for it, and I think that’s what really happened especially for me in the first half.
Q: since you guys split with ‘SC, does that make it a little easier with your girlfriend?
TP: yeah, we actually went to rival high schools in Atlanta. So her high school, we played them in the championship. Played them like 4 times one year. It’s always a sold-out game. So she always has her trash-talking so you just live with it. She’s not as bad as Christina [Marinacci], Dave [Wear]’s girlfriend. That’s all good, but when we beat them in football, there was a lot of trashtalking going on.