Andrew Zimmermann: It's just I guess something he kind of let me do as a senior leader. Last year, we talked a lot about Matt Howard at Butler, kind of being just a guy who gets things done. Didn't really care about looking good, looking pretty. It was kind of like a game that was messy but he just got things done. And so I think that's kind of what he saw this summer - kind of letting me be that guy, and that's the way I play. So he kind of let my appearance follow that route, just as a symbol to guys that we're not here to be cool, we're not here to be the pretty boys; we're here to get work done, and that's kind of the look, I guess.
TB: When do you plan on shaving the beard? I've heard your girlfriend and mom are not fans…
AZ: So I'm going to trim it down. It probably won't disappear, but it will be clean-trimmed. I'll probably go to the barber and have him make it look nice. But I think as long as I have the hair, the beard will probably stay.
TB: So after the season?
AZ: Yeah, after the season, I'll trim it down quite a bit so that it's a cleanly-kept beard.
TB: You've shown off the mid-range and three-ball a lot more than in years past. Have you been given more of a green light, or have you just gotten more comfortable from that spot on the floor?
AZ: It's just a comfort thing; something I've been working on. In high school, I didn't really shoot a lot outside - I know I could, but it wasn't a part of my game. So all four years of college that I've played, I've tried to develop it more and more. And it's something that finally I'm feeling more and more comfortable; I get a lot of shots up in the summer and the off-season. So I've just been more comfortable taking that shot when it's open.
TB: You're the second WCC transfer on the Cardinal in the last few years, making the drive 30 minutes north from Santa Clara. What was the biggest adjustment for you as a transfer?
AZ: So the biggest adjustment is two-part I guess. The school part is that you build a friend group as a freshman - you build a group of freshman friends, you build your class friends, the people who are in your major, and when you transfer into a new place, a lot of those friendships and relationships are already established. So having good teammates and also some transfer friends really helped me transition in that sense. But as people graduate, I'm starting to realize how much I miss those connections that you make early on as a freshman. And then the second part, which has to do with basketball, is just the game is different every night. In the WCC, there's good competition, but it's not as competitive every night with every team, and so every day you're going to see a 6'10 guy, a 6'8 guy who is big, strong, athletic. In the WCC, you might see a 6'7 guy, a 6'6 guy that you go against. So there are different advantages and disadvantages that you have to deal with as a post player, as a perimeter player, but just the competitiveness on a nightly basis in the Pac-12 is a lot different.
TB: You got a pretty big opponent as well in Cal. What would it mean for you to end your Maples career with a W?
AZ: Anybody that we would have played would have been a big game for me personally, because I want to leave a legacy and I think the part that starts to leave that legacy is winning out your last game at home and trying to do something special in the tournament. So I think most importantly, not looking at the opponent or who it was, it's just trying to set that legacy starts with winning the game on Sunday and going into the Pac-12 tournament and trying to finish out strong and make something happen. It's also a big thing because they're coming in trying to have a chance to share the Pac-12 title. As being our rival, you don't want to let someone else celebrate on your court, and that's kind of a chance for them to celebrate if they would win. They'll know whether they'll be playing for the championship or not based on how everybody else finishes out, mainly Washington. We don't want them to be celebrating on our court. This is Stanford, this is our court. No matter who it is, nobody is coming in to our court celebrating a Pac-12 title.
TB: What did you learn about them from the last time you guys played in Haas?
AZ: Like all the teams in the Pac-12 - very physical, they're aggressive, they have a lot of senior players or older players who have a lot of experience - Harper Kamp, Jorge Gutierrez, even Justin Cobbs, who was at Minnesota before this, Allen Crabbe is playing really well for them this year. It's about really just going out and being mentally and physically tougher. Last game, we were right there; we had a chance to really make a run at the end of the game and unfortunately, they were the ones that had the mental toughness and the ability to pick up their game and they were able to pull away. I think we've grown a lot since then; we've seen a lot of growth mentally from guys, so it's just about going out there and executing. And I think with what it means being a senior, having it be our last home game, I think some of the younger guys see that and hopefully we're all able to step up and really execute.
TB: That win would put you guys at 20 for the season and 10 in conference, the first winning conference season for Johnny Dawkins. How much of an eye do you have on the postseason brackets and where you might end up?
AZ: I don't think we pay any attention to that because we know winning will take care of it all. A couple of games ago, we realized that if we wanted to make the NCAA tournament, it meant winning our conference tournament. So we tried to put ourselves in the position - alright, we're playing for the bye, now we missed out on the bye. Alright, we're playing for building momentum. And deep down, we knew it's going to come down to winning the Pac-12 tournament to be able to go to the NCAA tournament. And besides that, we're not really looking at anything else. Like I said, it will take care of itself. I think with what we've done so far, we've done some good things to maybe get looked at for the NIT or some of the other tournaments, but that's not where our focus is right now.
TB: You probably lead the conference in charges drawn per minute, or are right up there at the top. I know Coach Dawkins says "I've never seen anybody get hurt taking a charge", but was there one in particular where you remember being like "damn, that wasn't pleasant!"?
AZ: So I never bring this up to Coach, but I've had two instances. My freshman year, I took a charge on Jon Bryant during one of our practices.
TB: Oh, that couldn't have felt good.
AZ: Yeah, for the people who don't know, he's 6'11, 300-something pounds, and I ended up missing eight games of the season because I herniated a disc in my back. So that's one instance, and the other instance was in the Oregon game; took a charge - it got called a block, I thought it was a charge; referee discretion I guess - and had to leave the game because I had jarred my hip or aggravated a previous injury. It's nothing to me; I would rather take the charge than not, and it's just a part of the game.
TB: I saw your Cardinal Channel feature "A Day in the Life," which featured you in the lab as a biology major. As a Spanish major myself, all of that is over my head…so in layman's terms, what would you like to do with your biology degree?
AZ: So I would like to go to medical school. My whole life, I've really been fascinated by the human body and what it's capable of doing, and what we're capable of having an impact on. You look at where research is at, especially with me being in the research labs, I kind of see where the research is going in terms of studying cancer, studying neurological disorders, and I think in the next 20-30 years, along with the advancement of technology, we're going to come up with cures for diseases that have kind of been age diseases- as you get older, you get these diseases. And once we start curing these diseases, it will be interesting to see how much longer we live, what new things come up and so I just want to be medically on the front line of that, and then possibly combining that with a business degree, to be able to combine the business aspect to be able to push the field in that direction.
TB: So are you planning on going to medical school next year, a couple of years down the line?
AZ: So I want to play overseas for a while just because I've really dedicated a lot of my life to basketball, and I've always had to do it in combination with education. And I know once I stop playing basketball competitively, I'll never be able to go back, and I know that once I start education - really going back to school - that's going to be the end of being able to have some freedoms to do certain things. So I really want to use the gifts and talents that I've developed, and the skills, to kind of explore and experience new cultures and travel and things that I haven't been able to do with basketball so far; just explore those options first and then start medical school maybe two or three years down the road.
TB: What is a favorite memory or two of yours during your time under the guide of Johnny Dawkins?
AZ: Obviously playing in New York this year, having the chance to play Syracuse in the championship game and really feeling like we could have won that game. Obviously it could have been better - if we had won, it would have been an even greater memory. I remember two years ago, playing UCLA and USC here and sweeping them at home with two really close games. We really handled UCLA - I think we won by ten. And then had USC and we were able to win even though they had a buzzer-beater attempt. It was just really hard fought and it was just the feeling we had after that - everybody was just really together to get those wins. And the last one would be the Washington win last year, beating them at home. The fans were great; it was just an amazing environment and to be able to get a win against a ranked opponent in our conference that we had struggled with to that point, that was great.
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