Time-out with Niyi Harrison
By Kaitlin Fuelling '13
As the men's basketball team prepares to play Gonzaga up in Spokane, www.SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) sat down and talk with sophomore Niyi Harrison (NH) about his season so far. A forward from Milpitas, California and 2009 Bellarmine Prep graduate, has averaged 4.1 ppg and 3.3 rpg. Last year as a freshman, he averaged 7.6 ppg and 4.6 rpg. He's averaging 5.5 ppg and 7.3 rpg the last four contests.
SCU: How is your game developing?
NH: My play lately has picked up, probably because I have been practicing a lot harder. The harder I practice, the better I play and that has been showing in the last couple games. I would like to keep that rolling.
SCU: Why do you think you have been practicing harder? Is it coming easier to you? Do you understand more, or just more motivated? Did you talk to anyone about it?
NH: I would say I am a lot more motivated. Towards the beginning of the year I would practice hard but sometimes I would take a play off and that definitely showed up in my game when I wasn't performing to where I expected to. That is just the worst feeling when you know that you aren't playing to the level you should be playing at.
I talked to Coach Scholl and to Coach Keating about it and my teammates. My dad especially helped me through it. I definitely used a lot of different sources to help me pick up my play. I feel like it is paying off right now.
SCU: How has your experience this year as a sophomore differed from your freshman year?
NH: As a freshman, you don't really have any expectations and you don't really know what you are getting into. Sophomore year, you know what you are getting into, you know what you need to do, what you need to work on and you have more responsibilities to the team.
SCU: What was your favorite part of your freshman year?
NH: My favorite part would have to be traveling to all the gyms and playing against the best players out there. In high school, there were some good games, but some weren't that competitive. Out here in WCC, every game is competitive. I just love to compete.
SCU: Did you always know you wanted to play college basketball? What do you see yourself doing once you graduate?
NH: Yeah, ever since I started to play around seventh grade, sort of late, but once I started playing, I knew that was my goal. I would always be looking on the websites to how people got recruited and was excited to be a part of that process.
I absolutely would love to see how far I can take basketball, if I could do that for the rest of my life that would be great. Of course, I am in the Leavey School of Business, so keeping options open, but I would love to play basketball as long as I can. My mom and dad enforce the idea of education. They have preached it to me ever since I can remember.
SCU: What do you see as your weakest part of your game and how are you trying to improve? On the flip-side what do you see as your strength?
NH: I would say the weakest part of my game is that I get really caught up and speed up in the moment of the game and probably make brash decisions. I am trying to improve by just getting more and more reps and more comfortable with the things the team expects me to do. The more I do, the more comfortable I get and the calmer I will be in the game.
As for my strength, it in a way would be the same thing that I get so caught up in the game; my energy sometimes is just off the charts. If I could harness that power, it would be great. The world would be complete. [Laughs]
SCU: Do you have any pre-game superstitions or routines?
NH: No, not really. I listen to music, but pretty much everyone does that. I listen to music; take a nap before every game, nothing out of the ordinary.
SCU: Is there anything you would like to do here at Santa Clara as a college student that you may not be able to due to your sport?
NH: I would love to go abroad. I really want to go abroad, but there is no way that is happening unless I find something over the summer. Even if I find something over the summer, that is the time where you work to get better; you have to work out all the time. I don't know where I would go, all over: Italy, Spain, anywhere.
SCU: What is your favorite movie?
NH: I have a lot of different favorite movies, the Rush Hour series. I love Inception, hands-down favorite movie. I love Seth Rogan movies like Knocked-Up and Funny People. I love movies in general; I am going all the time to rent new ones.
SCU: What is your favorite food?
NH: It would have to be a tie between Mexican and Chinese food. I love both.
SCU: What is something that people don't know about you?
NH: Probably my taste in music. I feel like I listen to a lot of things that other people don't listen to. Artists like Blink 182, Sublime, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire. Most people expect me to just like rap, R&B and stuff like that.
Santa Clara will play against Gonzaga this Thursday at 6pm.