Andrew Hatch and the UC San Diego men’s basketball team continues to improve each time out. The 2005 CCAA Freshman of the Year leads the team in rebounding and is second on the team in assists. The Chino Hills native will run the point in UCSD’s match-up against Point Loma on Dec. 13. The Tritons will then play three games in Hawai’i before returning home on January 3. Hatch recently took time to discuss this season and what life is like on and off the court at UCSD.
Q: What do you think of UCSD’s season so far?
HATCH: Defensively, we have done a great job, holding opponents to under 60 points. Offensively we have been struggling a bit. Overall, I think we have played well, but we need to finish games.
Q: What does the team need to do to win these close games?
HATCH: Our intensity needs to be there at the end and definitely rebounding. The last two games came down to the last play and we did not execute, did not grab the last rebound or make the final stand or basket.
Q: Leading the team in rebounding as a point guard... does that surprise you?
HATCH: Being a point guard, my job is not necessarily boxing-out, it is more of going in and getting the loose ball. If everyone else boxes out, then I feel I should be the leading rebounder. The point guard should be the quickest guy on the court, so I feel I should be leading the team in rebounding.
Q: How was it playing in front of the large crowds at Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Cal Poly?
HATCH: It was great. Those large crowds prepared us so that when we go on the road in conference, we will be in a situation that we have experienced before.
Q: Do you see the UCSD basketball program taking steps toward becoming a national power?
HATCH: Definitely. I think we showed that in the first 15 minutes when we played Gonzaga, we surprised them. Even coming back after halftime, the fans gave us some applause because they did not think we could keep up with them. The fans were chanting “San Diego High School” before the game, but by halftime they realized that we could play.
But yes, I see our program improving and we need to keep taking those steps and recruit the best players for our program.
Q: Is the Hawai’i trip all business?
HATCH: When you go to Hawai’i and you are playing three games in eight days, there will definitely be some down time. It is a business trip, but there will be a lot of time to relax. I think this is what we need and also why Coach has planned it like this... to be able to turn it on and turn it off. We will be in a beautiful place and need to have the experience of being able to turn it on when it’s time on the court. This experience will help us throughout conference.
Q: How did your finals go?
HATCH: I think finals were excellent. This is the best feeling I’ve had after a final. I had two yesterday and studied a lot for them. I think I did pretty well.
Q: What is a Coach Carr practice like?
HATCH: The practice starts with defensive drills, breakdown drills, shooting, guards on one side, big men on the other side. Defensive drills again, go through the plays for about another thirty minutes, and then you end with everyone on the line running.
Q: So the emphasis in training is primarily upon by defense?
HATCH: Yes. We’ve always been more focused on defense, but even more so this year, because we’re a lot bigger this year and we realize we can stop people on defense.
Q: Have you found it difficult to balance grades, basketball, and the social life a UCSD student so desires?
HATCH: Not really, considering this is how it was in high school. You just have to come in with the mentality of school first, basketball second. During the season you don’t really have much of a social atmosphere anyway. It’s pretty easy. Just must find the time to study when you can. Do the best you can.
Q: What is your greatest strength on the basketball court?
HATCH: I think my leadership qualities. Bringing down the ball and telling people where to go. As a point guard you’ve got to know everyone’s position on the court, so even if I never play the five [center position], which I never will, I have to know where everyone will be.
Q: Which area needs the most improvement?
HATCH: I think my offensive intensity. Sometimes I get into the leadership qualities of and telling everyone else what they need to do, but I forget what I need to do myself and when I can take it to the basket and get points easily. I tend not to do that, but I’m focusing on that more this year.
Q: You were a team captain last year. Was there a specific moment you remember stepping up to become a leader? How were you able to assert yourself as a freshman?
HATCH: I think that moment came during the fifth game against Chapman. I remember Coach [Bill Carr, UCSD men’s basketball head coach] saying, ‘Andrew, just go to the basket. Forget the plays, just go to the basket.’ I just told everyone, spread out, I’m going to the basket, nobody is going to stop me here. I think that is when I really became the captain of the team. This year, we really haven’t established who is captain, but it’s just going to be who can step up in the game and show they have the leadership qualities.
Q: Does the fact that the current team contains seven freshmen and only one senior have you worry about experience and maturity?
HATCH: Not necessarily. Last year, we had older guys, but we still lacked chemistry and leadership abilities. This year we all get along a lot better. Plus, we have people like Robby [Peters, UCSD guard] who has been playing for three years. This is my second year now. It seems like we all just know what we need to do to win and we just go out there and do it.
Q: Will the youth of the team now help in years to come as you grow together and continue adding pieces to the puzzle?
HATCH: Definitely. I think what Coach was trying to do by recruiting so many people was preparing for the future. He’s not forgetting about right now, he’s establishing a team. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.
Q: Which newcomer will have the biggest impact this year?
HATCH: Tough question. We have two newcomers, actually we have a lot of newcomers, but there’s two specifically. There’s a freshman named Darryl [Lawlor, UCSD forward] and he has just been turning it on big time during practice. He was a little nervous his first game against UC Santa Barbara, but he played well. We also have Henry [Patterson, UCSD forward], and he is like a monster. 6’5, 220, great athlete, and he is really going to help us a lot once we hit league. Both of those guys are going to be great this year, because now we have that size, we have that strength to bump people around inside and get rebounds, and I think that’s something that we lacked last year.
Q: What was the deciding factor in you coming to UC San Diego?
HATCH: Close to home. My parents can make it to all the games. I really didn’t want to play on the East Coast; it’s too far from home.
Q: During high school, you competed on AAU teams with UCLA’s Jordan Farmar and the Miami Heat’s Dorrell Wright. How did playing with and against that level of talent affect your game?
HATCH: It definitely got me used to playing at a high speed. When we play Division I opponents I don’t get that nervous, because I’ve seen that level of competition before. It’s all about confidence once you get out there. I’ve also played with Arron Affalo (UCLA) and Kenny Brown (Stanford).
Q: When did you first become involved in basketball? What drew you to the sport?
HATCH: My dad played basketball in high school and college, so right around the age of seven or eight when I was taller than all the other kids, he told me I was going to play basketball. Unfortunately, that height advantage didn’t continue. I didn’t like soccer, the shorts were too small. Football, I didn’t like getting hit. Basketball felt like the only thing for me.
Q: What is your greatest basketball memory?
HATCH: Hitting a shot to beat undefeated Glendora during my senior season in [Ayala] high school.
Q: Who was your favorite basketball player when growing up?
HATCH: I was always a Laker fan, so I’m going to have to say [long pause] I remember [former Laker small forward] Cedric Ceballos. That was the team. I’m a Kobe fan now, hate Shaq, hate the Heat, but back in the day....Cedric Ceballos, definitely.
Q: What do you plan to use your political science major for?
HATCH: I plan on going to law school after, becoming a lawyer. I want to go to Columbia after I graduate to get my law degree.
Q: Any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
HATCH: I always listen to Lauren Hill before a game, the whole CD – Unplugged – it calms me down before a game. Some people listen to rap, but I can’t do it. I need to get calmed down.
Q: Do you have an individual goal for the season?
HATCH: Definitely increase my assist to turnover ratios. Win games, not necessarily individual awards, but just improve as a team.
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