Hatch ready for bigger leadership role

Last year, Andrew Hatch established himself as a leader for the men’s basketball team. As a freshman, Hatch was named a team captain and backed up the title, earning CCAA Freshman of the Year honors while posting averages of 8.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. The Tritons set a new UCSD mark for wins in Division II with 11 and Hatch now embarks on a new season, surrounded by nine new teammates, as he tries to continue the improvement of the young Triton squad. He took a break from his daily routine of kicking ass and/or taking names to answer some questions about himself, the team and the upcoming season.

Guardian: In a typical week, how much time do you devote to basketball?

Hatch: I’d say about four hours a day, so 20-25 hours a week. That’s about three and a half hours practicing, give or take an hour lifting weights.

G: What is a coach Bill Carr practice like?

H: Coach Carr practice start with defensive drills, breakdown drills, shooting, guards on one side, big men on the other side. Defensive drills again, go through the plays for about another 30 minutes, and then you end with everyone on the line running.

G: So the emphasis in training is primarily on defense?

H: Yeah. We’ve always been more focused on defense, but even more so this year, because we’re a lot bigger this year and we realize we can stop people on defense.

G: Have you found it difficult to balance grades, basketball and the social life a UCSD student so desires?

H: Not really, considering this is how it was in high school. You just have to come in with the mentality of school first, basketball second. During the season, you don’t really have much of a social atmosphere anyway. It’s pretty easy. Just gotta find time to study when you can. Do the best you can.

G: What is your greatest strength on the basketball court?

H: I think my leadership qualities and bringing down the ball and telling people where to go. As a point guard, you’ve got to know everyone’s position on the court, so even if I never play [center], which I never will, I’ve got to know where everyone will be.

G: Which area needs the most improvement?

H: I think my offensive intensity. Sometimes I get into the leadership qualities of telling everyone else what they need to do, but I forget what I need to do myself and when I can take it to the basket and get points easily. I tend not to do that. But I’m focusing on that more this year.

G: You were a team captain last year. Was there a specific moment you remember stepping up to become a leader? How were you able to assert yourself as a freshman?

H: I think that moment came during the fifth game against Chapman. I remember coach saying, ‘Andrew, just go to the basket. Forget the plays, just go to the basket.’ I just told everyone, spread out, I’m going to the basket, nobody is going to stop me here. I think that is when I really became the captain of the team. This year, we really haven’t established who’s captain, but it’s just going to be who can step up in the game and show they have the leadership qualities.

G: What is your leadership style?

H: Lead by example. I’m going to go out there and do my best, and hopefully everyone else will too. Not necessarily yelling at people, because that doesn’t seem to work. Just go out there, play hard, and hopefully people will follow you.

G: The team enters the season with seven returning players and an incredible nine newcomers. How is team chemistry so far?

H: You know what, it’s a lot better than last year. Off the court we get along better, we hang out twice a week together, which we never did last year. Last year, we kind of had a division in the team with the younger guys and the older guys. This year everyone is more together and we’re very team-oriented and we just seem to like each other a lot more.

Look for the rest of Joe’s interview with Hatch in the next issue.

G: Does the fact that the current team contains seven freshmen and only one senior have you worry about experience and maturity?

H: Not necessarily. Last year, we had older guys, but we still lacked chemistry and leadership abilities. This year we all get along a lot better. Plus, we have people, like Robby [Peters, UCSD guard], who have been playing for three years. This is my second year now. It seems like we all just know what we need to do to win and we just go out there and do it.

G: Will the youth of the team now help in years to come as you grow together and continue adding pieces to the puzzle?

H: Definitely. I think what Coach was trying to do by recruiting so many people was prepare for the future. He’s not forgetting about right now, he’s establishing a team. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.

G: Which non-returning player from last year’s team do you feel was the biggest loss?

H: I’d have to say last year’s captain, Parker [Berling, former UCSD forward]. Parker is just such a great athlete. This would have been his fourth year playing and everyone kind of looked up to him. He was 21 and he was like the only player returning from last year. Everyone just looked to him as a leader. I know I did.

G: Can you discuss why Parker didn’t return this year?

H: It’s just hard going from one coach to another coach. He got used to the system under [former UCSD men’s basketball head coach Greg] Lanthier. Carr is a lot more strict than Lanthier, from what I’ve heard, and Parker just didn’t want to play anymore.

G: On the flip side, which newcomer will have the biggest impact this year?

H: We have two newcomers, actually we have a lot of newcomers, but there’s two specifically. There’s a freshman named Darryl [Lawlor, UCSD forward] and he has just been turning it on big time during practice. He was a little nervous his first game against UC Santa Barbara, but he played well. We also have Henry [Patterson, UCSD forward], and he is a monster. 6’5, 220, great athlete, and he’s really going to help us a lot once we hit league. Both of those guys are going to be great this year, because now we have that size, we have that strength to bump people around inside and get rebounds, and I think that’s something that we lacked last year.

G: One of the aspects of UCSD that has garnered some attention is the lack of support and spirit for Triton athletics. What do you attribute this to?

H: I attribute that to the last two years of us not performing that well. Obviously, if we win, people are going to come out to watch us and support us. It’s our job just to play; we can’t really worry about people coming out to watch the games, even though we wish they would. I think we’re going to be a lot better this year, and we’ve just got to play better, win some games, establish a winning streak, and then definitely people are going to come out to see us play.

G: How would you go about improving school spirit, keeping in mind that the A.S. council is strongly opposed to nudity?

H: [Laughs]. That’s full frontal nudity, right?

G: I think they’re opposing most nudity right now.

H: Well, I think we can still take off our shirts. People can body paint us as much as they want. We’re always open to just taking off our shirts. That’s part of what this team is about.

G: Currently, the NCAA requires that all Division II schools offer at least $250,000 for athletic grants, and UCSD remains one of the largest schools in the division not offering the minimum. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph Watson currently has a waiver for this school year, basically meaning they don’t have to give you any money. Do you feel screwed at all?

H: I’m honored to play at a school without scholarships, but then again, we need the scholarships. Yea, I feel screwed. All of the athletes try really hard – from softball to baseball – $500 would help.

G: Currently, the proposed plan for the athletics money would give every athlete $500, as you mentioned. Do you feel that is the best use of the money?

H: Yea, we’re all working hard out here. I don’t think we should get more than anyone else, or somebody else should get more. If they have enough to give everyone $500, they should give everyone $500.

G: Your teammate A.J. Maulhardt stated that the $500 scholarships being proposed would not have an impact on recruiting athletes who are being offered substantially more money by other schools. Do you agree and did you personally turn down bigger scholarships to come play at UCSD?

H: I turned down Ivy League schools, I turned down Naval Academy, Air

Force Academy. But $500, that’s a start. It would help in recruiting people, because it would open a lot of doors. Once they give us that option of offering scholarships that means Coach can go out and ask for money from private donors and that would help a lot. That $500 is the start, gotta get that first.

G: What was the deciding factor in you coming to UC San Diego?

H: Close to home. My parents can make it to all the games. I really didn’t want to play on the East Coast; it’s too far from home.

G: What factors would you use to attract recruits?

H: Sh[oot], we live in San Diego. It’s probably got the best social life. We’re in La Jolla, one of the richest areas in the country, five minute walk from the beach. It should sell itself.

G: During high school, you competed on AAU teams with UCLA’s Jordan Farmer and the Miami Heat’s Dorrell Wright. How did playing with and against that level of talent affect your game?

H: It definitely got me used to playing at a high speed. When we play Division I opponents I don’t get that nervous, because I’ve seen that level of competition before. It’s all about confidence once you get out there.

G: Any other names you’d like to drop?

H: Arron Afflalo, UCLA. Kenny Brown, Stanford. Ok, I’m good.

G: The Triton’s first four games this year are all vs. Division I opponents. The team began their season with an exhibition game against UC Santa Barbara, and next will travel to play Gonzaga and Eastern Washington before opening the regular season at Cal Poly. What do you gain in facing such strong competition so early?

H: You gain confidence. Go out there, play hard, think you’re playing hard, and get thrown around by bigger guys. You go into the regular season and you feel comfortable. We’re not playing against the Gonzagas every game, so when playing against a team like that you see what offensive sets work, and those will probably work during the season. Plus, we’re going to be playing in front of 7,000, so after that, playing in front of 500 doesn’t seem like such a big deal. You get the jitters out, which is especially important for the freshmen.

G: Following that string of D-I opponents, you stay on the road for the next eight games before your home opener on January 3rd. Is it difficult spending so much time on the road?

H: Playing on the road is fun. You get to go out, play in front of a hostile environment. Then we get to come home and we have like 11 games at home, so we should do pretty well then, after getting the hard games out of the way.

G: Does the fact that your extended road trip ends in Hawaii make things more manageable?

H: A lot more manageable. A lot more. It’s a business trip, but it’s a lot different than going to Chico.

G: What offensive and defensive style has Coach Carr implemented in the UCSD men’s basketball program?

H: As opposed to the Lanthier system, we’re more disciplined. Offensively, we come down and we run sets as opposed to just a motion play. We’re moving the ball more, trying to get people open shots, get the ball to Robby and Clint[Allard, UCSD guard] who can pull from three-point range. And defensively, we’re bigger with guys like AJ and Henry on the inside, making it easier to control people. We’re going to play a lot more zone this year, because we’re bigger and we can get more rebounds now.

Basically, it’s just a very formal setting, not just throwing the ball out there and saying ‘Go!’

G: You and Coach Carr are both now entering your second seasons at UCSD.

How would you characterize playing for Coach Carr? How has his coaching style differed from that of your past coaches, Tom Gregory and Ken Quinn?

H: Coach Gregory and Coach Carr aren’t that different. They’re both very strict, and that’s probably why it’s been easier for me to adjust, as opposed to Parker last year. Coach Carr seems to be focusing more on the individuals we have now. Last year, he didn’t know any of us so it took some time to get into a swing, but this year it’s much more geared towards the players we have.

G: When did you first become involved in basketball? What drew you to the sport?

H: My dad played basketball in high school and college, so right around the age of 7 or 8 when I was taller than all the other kids, he told me I was going to play basketball. Unfortunately, that height advantage didn’t continue. I didn’t like soccer, the shorts were too small. Football, I didn’t like getting hit. Basketball felt like the only thing for me.

G: What is your greatest basketball memory?

H: Hitting a shot to beat undefeated Glendora during my senior season in [Ayala] high school.

G: What would you say is the hardest loss you suffered on the basketball court?

H: Senior year, losing to Long Beach Poly in CIF [playoffs].

G: What did you learn from that loss?

H: Gotta go out there and play every minute like it’s your last game.

G: Who was your favorite basketball player when growing up?

H: I was always a Laker fan, so I’m going to have to say [long pause] I remember [former Laker small forward] Cedric Ceballos being tight back in the day. That was the team. I’m a Kobe fan now, hate Shaq, hate the Heat, but back in the day… Cedric Ceballos, definitely.

G: That was the team with Divac and Nick Van Exel, good team.

H: They were awesome.

G: The NBA has recently implemented a new dress code for its players. What are your views about the dress code and does Coach Carr have any influence upon your daily wardrobe selections?

H: Coach doesn’t influence our daily wardrobe, but on the road we do have to dress appropriately. In the NBA, I do feel the dress code is kind of censoring them, taking away freedom of speech, geared to take away the hip-hop generation from basketball. I think it’s pointless in the NBA. Guys are making so much money by then; I don’t think it really matters.

G: What do you plan to use your political science major for?

H: I plan on going to law school after, becoming a lawyer. I want to go to Columbia after I graduate to get my law degree.

G: Any pre-game rituals or superstitions?

H: I always listen to Lauren Hill before a game, the whole CD – Unplugged – it calms me down before a game. Some people listen to rap, but I can’t do it. I need to get calmed down.

G: Would you say the interview thus far has been great, or the greatest interview of all-time?

H: It’s Joe, it’s the greatest interview of all time.

G: Good answer.

H: Thanks.

G: Last year, the Tritons beat former CCAA champion Bakersfield, the first such victory for the Tritons over the team. Who do you feel is the toughest opponent in the CCAA this year?

H: I’m going to have to go with Sonoma State. They returned a lot of their players. They’re beatable, but it seems like every other team in the conference lost a lot of their players.

G: Last spring, I asked Coach Carr what he believed was a realistic goal for the team this year and he responded that he thought this unit could win the CCAA and that was the goal. Do you agree with that assessment?

H: Definitely agree. We are going to win the CCAA.

G: How many years in a row?

H: How many years do I have left?

G: Three, including this year.

H: Three years in a row. I’m going to say four. Four years in a row.

G: Do you have an individual goal for the season?

H: Definitely increase my assist to turnover ratios. Win games, not necessarily individual awards, but just improve as a team.

G: Finish this sentence. In ten years Andrew Hatch will be _______________.

H: A big time lawyer.

G: Ok, let’s finish up with a quick word association. I’ll say a name, you say the first thing that pops into your head. Got it?

H: Alright.

G: Clint Allard.

H: Shooter.

G: Odioh Odiyeh.

H: Rebounder.

G: Henry Patterson.

H: Good friend.

G: Bill Carr.

H: Coach?

G: Jessica Alba.

H: Sexy.

::High five::

G: Evan Demkiw.

H: Great ball handler.

G: Robby Peters.

H: Great, great shooter.

G: Andrew Hatch.

H: Team leader.

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