Q&A WITH GARY HARRIS: SPARTANS SHOOTING TO WIN IT ALL IN 2013-14 SEASON
Gary Harris had a tremendous freshman year at Michigan State in 2012-2013. The Fishers (IN) native was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, becoming the first Spartan to win that honor since 1986. Harris was a second-team All-Big Ten selection and was voted MSU Team MVP by his teammates after a season where he averaged 13 points a game for head coach Tom Izzo.
NBE’s Matt Whitfield caught up with the rising Spartan star at the recent Kevin Durant skills academy where he Harris talked about what it is like to play for Coach Izzo and Michigan State and also about the Michigan rivialry and the motivation that fuels his off-season seeing the Wolverines come just short of a national championship a season ago.
Read on below for our Q&A with MSU sophomore guard Gary Harris…
Matt Whitfield (MW): How do you like this camp so far?
Gary Harris (GH): It’s great. I love it. I had a good first day. I’m just thankful to be out here with some of the best players in the country and one of the best players in the world in Kevin Durant.
MW: I noticed you and Glenn [Robinson] are pretty cool. How was it seeing the other team in the state of Michigan make it to the final last year?
GH: Oh man, it’s tough. I mean especially them being our rival and seeing them go that far. That’s just motivation for this year, what they did last year, and hopefully we can do it this year. It’s not going to be easy but I feel like we have the right pieces. We’re just going to have to put in a lot of work in the off-season so we’re ready once the season comes.
MW: What are you expectations for this year’s team?
GH: I’m shooting high. I know our team’s goals are high. We feel like we want to win a national championship and we don’t want anything less than that. I mean, Final Four, that’s great, but we want to win it. I feel like if everybody comes with the right attitude each day in the off-season and regular season that’s a realistic goal.
MW: Obviously Michigan-Michigan State is now a pretty big rivalry in basketball once again. Do you think it’s one of the bigger rivalries now in college basketball?
GH: Oh definitely, especially with the team that Michigan has. They have a lot of good young guys. We have a lot of good young guys. We kind of split the series last year and we’re definitely going to go at it, especially in the environments both playing at the Breslin Center and the Chrysler Arena. It’s going to be a big rivalry no matter what just because it’s in the Big Ten and it feels like all Big Ten games are rivalries now-a-days because of the strength of it last year, so I’m looking forward to it and it’s going to be a fun year.
MW: What have you been working on this summer?
GH: Everything; my ball handling, my shooting, strength – especially in my shoulders trying to get those stronger so I don’t have to worry about anything that happened last year. I’m also working on my conditioning so I can be in better shape later in the season and later in games. And just my all around game.
MW: What’s it like playing for Coach Tom Izzo?
GH: Oh man he’s great. Coach is going to be demanding, he’s going to push you to the limit but you know it’s worth it. The guy knows what he’s talking about and if you listen to him god things will happen.
MW: Was Coach Izzo a big factor in you choosing Michigan State over Indiana?
GH: He was the factor. Tom Izzo is recognized as one the best coaches in college basketball and he’s definitely going to be a Hall of Fame coach. And the opportunity to go play for him at a friendly atmosphere like they have at Michigan State I feel like was definitely the right choice.
MW: Are you guys playing any big teams this year out of conference in any tournaments or anything?
GH: I know we play Kentucky the first game of the season in Chicago. North Carolina comes to us in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and I’m sure [Coach Izzo is] going to have more stuff up his sleeve like he always does every year.