Pondexter Talks About Team USA
July 10, 2009
University of Washington rising senior forward Quincy Pondexter is enjoying a life-changing experience as a member of Team USA at the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. The Fresno, Calif. Native connected with GoHuskies.com for this brief conversation regarding his experience.
For more information on Pondexter and Team USA, visit www.USABasketball.com.
GoHuskies: Tell Husky fans a little about the team selection process and how you felt you played during the Trials. Describe your new teammates and coaches.
Q.P.: 'The team selection process for this great opportunity started back in April when I was invited to training camp in Colorado Springs for a chance to be on the team. Heading to training camp I was very nervous about making the team. Since I had hernia surgery after the season was over, the doctors only released me to be able to play full court a week earlier. So far, I think I've played pretty well. Being a part of team USA, with the great amount of talent we have - it is an honor to even get playing time. Personality-wise all my teammates all are very similar. We all come from being pretty high-profile players at our own schools and its interesting to see and hear that they go through the same things that we do at Washington. Coaches Bo Ryan, Frank Haith, and Rob Jeter have done a tremendous job for us. It is always great to get advice from people that know the game. They have really helped me with my game in various ways and I am looking forward to taking what I have learned back to the UW.'
GoHuskies: How was the long trip to Serbia? When did you leave, how long was the flight? What did you guys do to pass the time?
Q.P.: 'Man, the trip was long. It felt like the longest day in my entire life. We left Colorado Springs at 3:30 in the morning. We left the Olympic training facility for the one hour drive to Denver to catch a three hour flight to Chicago. After a three hour layover there, we hopped on an eight-hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. When we landed in Europe, we then had a four hour layover during which I found out some great and horrible news - that my buddy Jon Brockman was the newest member of the Sacramento Kings and that the king of pop had died. It is still kind of hard to believe that Michael Jackson actually died because we do not have access to television over here, although we do, obviously, have Internet access. Anyway, we finally landed in Belgrade at 3:30 the next afternoon from when we left Colorado! To pass time on the trip, I spent a lot of time sleeping, reading 'Wooden on Leadership' by the great John Wooden and watching a lot of movies.'
GoHuskies: How is Serbia? What have you seen? What's it like? How have the people at the Games treated you guys? How's the food?
Q.P.: 'Serbia has been great. Before I came here I didn't know much about Serbia. But now, I realize it is actually quite similar to Seattle. Nearly the entire time we have been here it has been mostly cloudy with a couple of thunder storms. So I am pretty used to the weather. We have been so busy most of the time we have been here. So, we have only had a chance to go on one tour of the city. The buildings and such are very nice. But, I have been a little bit nervous because we travel around with five armed body guards! The people at the games have treated us great. With those three initials (USA) on your chest we feel like the Yankees or Lakers. People either love or hate you. But, it has been mostly love, thank goodness. Since we are staying in the village with all the other athletes, we eat at the cafeteria. It serves food that I would not necessarily eat in America, but it seems to be getting a little better every day. But, we are all starving for real food! It seems like our entire team has lost weight because most of the guys refuse to eat there.'
GoHuskies: How were the opening ceremonies?
Q.P.: 'The opening ceremonies were great. It was a great bonding time with athletes from all the other countries and we just had a blast. Seeing all the people lining the streets, cheering and booing, was an experience I will never forget. When our flag was presented in the Belgrade arena, we felt like Kobe Bryant must have felt when he was introduced in Denver! We got heavily booed, so we took that as motivation to play harder.'
GoHuskies: What are the fans like at the Games? Photos show a lot of people in the arena.
Q.P.: 'There has been great attendance at the games. Serbia seems to love basketball. The only games I can compare the wild fans, I guess, is when we go to Washington State. It feels like everyone is rooting against you.'
GoHuskies: How do you feel you have played? How do you think stack-up against the International competition?
Q.P.: 'I think I've played pretty well. Coach Bo Ryan has put a lot of trust in me with this team. I'm the guy who guards the other team's best player and I'm expected to score, rebound, and hand out assists to open teammates - much like my role at the UW. The international game is very different. The players are very good and skilled, but I think I've been able to hold my own and more.'
GoHuskies: How was running into guys like WSU's Nikola Koprivica (playing for Serbia) at the games? Did you guys get a chance to chat much?
Q.P.: 'Playing against Nik was a little crazy. I had the scouting report on his tendencies stuck in my head from when we played him during the year in college. So, I tried to help our guys defend him. I was trying to get him to loosen up a little. That is such a great strategy for people that you are playing against. So, we talked for a while on the court about the WSU coaching change and I encouraged him to shoot a three - that he missed badly I might add!'
GoHuskies: Who is the biggest jokester on the team and why?
Q.P.: 'We have a team full of jokesters here. It is hard to really pinpoint one guy that stands out. But, if I did, I would robably say D'Sean Butler (West Virginia) and Evan Turner (Ohio State). They talk the most trash and are just hilarious.'
GoHuskies: What do you see as the USA team's biggest strength?
Q.P.: 'Our biggest strength is really our depth and talent level. On any given night, anyone on our team can have a great game. We have a great balanced attack and we are relatively pretty unselfish - especially for a team of this caliber.'
GoHuskies: What do you think you will take away from the experience?
Q.P.: 'Obviously, I expect to become a better basketball player. But, I also hope I can improve my role on our team as a leader and help establish the feeling of togetherness that we have had with this team.'
GoHuskies: Have you been able to see some of the other USA teams play?
Q.P.: `Really, because of how busy our days are and the times of our games, I have unfortunately not had the chance to see any of the other competitions. I really wish I could go see them, but I always tell the other USA athletes we are there with them in spirit.'
GoHuskies: Have you come across any of the UW tennis players who are also at the Games?
Q.P.: 'Actually, yes! I saw them from a distance because they were wearing Washington tee-shirts in the cafeteria. It just so happened that I was wearing one on that same day. So I walked up and chatted with them, talked about our experiences in Serbia nd how we missed the UW and wished each other good luck. It was really cool to see other Husky athletes so far from home.'
GoHuskies: You've been twittering quite a bit. How much support have you felt from your family? The Husky fans?
Q.P.: 'Man, Husky fans are the best. They have been following my games in any way they can and sending me great support via my only way of communication - the internet. My family is always 100 percent behind me and they send me emails we skype call everyday.'
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