Q&A with Patrick Steeves
The sixth-year graduate student forward will be relied upon to lead the Colonials this season
A season ago, Patrick Steeves was a fifth-year college student and newcomer to the GW men's basketball program after completing his undergraduate degree at Harvard and transferring to continue his education and playing career. Now, Steeves will be relied upon to help lead a program which features nine newcomers, including four freshmen, in his final collegiate season. The Montreal native came on strong in the final two months last year, reaching double figures eight times, and hopes to build on that momentum going into 2017-18. Steeves recently caught up with GWsports.com to discuss his thoughts on the team and what role he'll play.
You’ve said you're excited about this group – why?
PS: I like the energy we have. Our practices have been high level and energetic. Maurice’s personality is to be super fired up about everything and I think we have a lot of guys that tap into that. I think that’s huge, especially because the month of October is a grind. Practicing for hours, not playing anybody else, just competing against each other. I think it’s easy for young guys to just put it in cruise control and try to get through the month. With our team we have so many new guys and we’re going to implement some new stuff that even the old guys have to catch on to. We can’t be in cruise control. We can’t do that. We have to be in sixth gear the whole time. I think setting that tone and feeding off that energy is something we really need to focus on this month.
What are some strengths of this team from what you’ve seen early on?
PS: If you look on paper we’re pretty young but Yuta and I have a ton of experience. He’s about to turn 23 and I’m in my sixth year. Having us two at the helm and setting the tone for the younger guys is a big strength of the team. I think we’re very athletic this year. If we learn how to play defense smart, because I think a lot of teams when you put in run and jump defense you can sometimes play too fast. I think if we can find the right tempo for us and play very athletic and put pressure on teams but do it in an intelligent way, I think we we’re going to be very hard to score on.
Is there a particular area you expect the team to focus on this season?
PS: We’ve done a great job getting in shape, and we’re still going to get better and better but now we can focus more on the mental aspect of the game, especially putting in the new plays for all the incoming guys and also the new sets we’re running with the returning guys. Just learning to play as a team; some of us have played together. You can see in pickup, it’s obviously a little bit easier to play with guys like Yuta, Jair and AT because we already know each other’s game. I think just getting on the court with some of these other guys and learning their tendencies will help us gel as a team.
Last year this team relied heavily on Tyler Cavanaugh’s scoring, so how do you go about replacing it?
PS: I think one way we can do it is with our defense; I think our defense can score a lot of points for us. Not necessarily with steals, but having big time defensive possessions and then pushing the ball. I think we’ll be able to score more points and play faster than last year. The other guy that has to pick up slack is Yuta. He stayed both summer sessions and has been working his tail off. I think he’s going to have a huge year. I know I’ve got to step my role up on the offensive end too. I’ve been working a lot on my jump shot this summer trying to get it back to the Harvard form.
Every year, half the teams across the country lose their best player. A lot of those teams are still going to be very good; there’s going to be other players that step up scoring wise, contributing wise. You just have to find out who those people are but I’m sure we will.
Toning your body up and getting in elite shape was a priority for you in the offseason. How and why did you do it?
PS: I think it was a big change of mindset. I’ve always been health conscious with the things I eat, getting enough sleep, but I took it to another level this summer starting when I was in Boston for my internship. Coming back, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to my diet and what I eat, and a focus of the coaches this preseason has been getting us in shape so we can play an up-tempo, faster pace of play. Just running on the treadmill as much as we have does a lot. I’m the same weight as last year and I still have my strength, but I feel a lot more mobile.
Do you think about a number that you want to average from a scoring standpoint, or does that not enter into your thought process?
PS: I don’t think so. I think in this program and with this coaching staff, a much more important number is what we want to hold teams to. Last year we focused on that and this year I’m sure we will again. You’re going to have rough shooting days here and there. On any given night you’re going to play well but not make shots, but you can still win those games if you get defensive stops, which you don’t need to be in the zone to play defense. You just need to care and lay it all out there.
You’ve been speaking up much more and being a vocal leader. Is that a role you embrace?
PS: I think we need that this year with all the young guys we have. We don’t have time for them to learn from their own mistakes. They need to learn from the older guys, letting them know when something’s not ok. Letting them know what kind of culture we have here. It's my last season, so these guys should know when I yell at them or get in their face, it’s not because I have something against them, it’s because I want to have the best year possible, and I want them to have the best year possible too.
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