One-on-One with Whit Gilfillan

Oct. 30, 2003

Finishing up his sophomore season with the men's water polo team, Whit Gilfillan is finally excelling in the pool again after offseason knee surgery. The two-meter standout finished second on the team in goals last season with 33 and has sparked the team's offense since his return. Gilfillan sat down for a few minutes Tuesday to chat with Sports Editor Brian Betz about his rehab efforts, the team's chances for a bid at the WWPA's, and even the ongoing news surrounding his Los Angeles Lakers.

BB: How are you doing since the offseason surgery you had on both your knees?

WG: They're 100 percent now. It took a while. I'm doing full workouts, I haven't seen any problems. There's no pain at all so it was a success.

BB: How long did it take to get 100 percent?

WG: About two months.

BB: That's it?

WG: It was a pretty minor surgery, it wasn't orthroscopic. I didn't tear anything. They wanted to clean it out, scrape some stuff out.

BB: Have you felt set back at all because of it.

WG: Last year I was, definitely, because I wasn't able to do full workouts. This year it's been fine, the only thing that's been giving me problems has been my elbow.

BB: What's wrong with it?

WG: I hyper-extended it during the preseason and it's an injury that just takes a long time to heal. But it's gotten a lot better in the past month or so.

BB: So you finished second on the team in goals last year with two bad knees?

WG: Well, I wasn't doing any leg workouts that we do and I wasn't running. At my position at the set, I've always got a guy trying to push me out and I'm trying to push him away to get as close to the goal as possible. And since I wasn't doing leg workouts, I had to make do. A lot more upper-body to make up for it.

BB: Reflecting back on last season, did you think you'd make the impact you did?

WG: I didn't know what to expect. When I got here, the old coach had left and no one knew who the new coach was going to be. No one knew anything. And then we got Keith [Wilbur] who's the best coach I've ever had, who's turned our program completely around. It's like night and day.

BB: How so?

WG: He just developed us into a great team. He helped us come together. We're all like best friends. You come onto this team and you have 15-20 of your best friends for life. It's like a frat almost.

BB: What are some of the strongest aspects of your game?

WG: My size, that's my biggest plus. I have abilities to match up with the bigger guys on the other team at the set.

BB: How does that size translate exactly?

WG: It's like wrestling. If you can hold your guy in a certain spot it makes it a lot easier to score or create.

BB: Do you have any dirty tactics that you use?

WG: Ha, ha, no comment.

BB: Has your role changed since getting Dan Figoni and Kenny Flanagan-De La Hoz back?

WG: Definitely. Those guys can take a lot more of the weight, they create a lot with their drives and Figoni's shot. It opens the rest of the pool up. Last year we'd get pressed real hard and didn't have anyone who could make things happen like they can.

BB: You end with No. 5 UCLA and then UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis. What are you most looking to get out of those games before the WWPA's.

WG: End strong and finally beat Davis.

BB: When was the last time you beat Davis?

WG: Year before I was here.

BB: What realistic seed do you guys think you'll be going into the tournament?

WG: We hope to be, well we hope to go. If we do, I'd hope we'd be around fifth through seventh. That would give us a chance to pull some upsets.

BB: So you're from Pasadena. You got anything to say about Los Angeles?

WG: Go Lakers. I'm a huge L.A. sports fan, it's the city of champions.

BB: You guys. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

WG: Uh, I think that the four hall-of-famers are going to do really well for us this year. Double three-peat.

BB: So what do you think about the whole "Shaq and Kobe hate each other" thing?

WG: Free Kobe. I think they need to stop fighting, but it takes the light off the Kobe case.

BB: Do you think it's a ploy against the media?

WG: I think it could be. But Shaq for president.

BB: I know Monday was your birthday, so I've gotta' say happy birthday.

WG: Thanks.