August 2, 2010

Harrison Ready to Crash Boards Again This Season

Interview by Student Assistant Carolyn Linck '11

            After a strong freshman season that landed Niyi Harrison in the top 10 of four categories in the Santa Clara freshman records, including sixth in rebounds and fifth in blocked shots, the 6'7" forward looks to improve even more for his sophomore year.  Recently (SCB) sat down with Harrison (NH) to discuss his transition from high school, his goals for the 2010-11 season and how he's helping the freshmen get adjusted to life at SCU.

SCB: What was the transition from Bellarmine to Santa Clara like for you last year?   What are the advantages and disadvantages of being so close to home?
NH: It wasn't an easy transition. Getting used to playing with people who were stars at their individual high school was difficult. It took a while to get used to that because in high school you maybe have one or two good players, but here everyone – even the guys coming off the bench – are good players.

I feel like there's only advantages to being close. I'm far enough away from my parents to have my own space but if I need to go home or want to go home I can do that too. I can go home and do laundry or get lunch with my parents but it's not like they show up without calling. They're cool enough to give me my own space.

SCB: How is preparing for your sophomore season different than preparing for your freshman one?
NH: Coming into my freshman season I was coming in blind, I didn't know what to expect. Because we were so young none of us really know what to expect and the season didn't really turn out how we wanted it to. But this season, because a lot of us are coming back we know what to expect. Now I know what I need to work on to develop in order for this team to be successful.

SCB: What parts of your game are you trying to improve this summer?
NH: I've been working really hard this summer on my ball handling and shooting. I feel like we have more players on this team this year so there's going to be more competition. I'm just trying to get better at everything, to become more well-rounded player.

SCB: What are your personal goals for next season?
NH: I really want to lead the team in rebounding. That's one of the goals I've talked to Coach Keating about. I also want to play a bigger role on the offensive end of the court.

SCB: How do you think the additions of John and Yannick will impact you and Marc?
NH: You can already see the impact this summer. With more post players here you can't slack at all. There's someone there to take your spot so now we're all working harder. It's really competitive in open gym.

SCB: How competitive is practice now?
NH: Open gym and even workouts, lifting, is a lot more competitive because there's more players and our strength coach really encourage it. The coaches instigate little competitions between us. It just makes all of us that much stronger, that much better.

SCB: How are you helping the freshmen get settled in Santa Clara?
NH: Just being a good teammate, a good friend and reaching out to people. Like if I'm going to do something, I'll invite the freshmen along. It can get kind of lonely in the summer because there aren't that many people around so it's the perfect time for us to bond as a team.

SCB: What are you doing for fun this summer?
NH: Just hanging out with teammates and friends who are still around campus -  nothing special really.