In 2005-06, Head Coach Bill Carr’s second season at the helm of the UC San Diego Men’s Basketball team, the Tritons turned in a Division II best 15 victories and surprised the CCAA with a fourth place finish. The squad will be looking to better those results this season and one of the key components of Carr’s third club is junior guard Clint Allard. The 6-1 graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose is averaging a team high 16.3 points and four assists through the first six games. He’s also dished out 18 assists and is shooting a sterling .557 from the floor (.650 beyond the three-point arc). Just coming out of final exams, Allard took time to talk about his sport, his game and this year’s Tritons.
Q-Last year’s team produced the most wins since the UCSD program moved to Division II in 2000-01. Has that heightened the team’s expectations as far as the 2006-07 season?
ALLARDóDefinitely Last year was a positive step forward for the program, but we know that we have to continue to build on that success. Every other team is going to be giving us their best every night now that we are recognized as a tough game, but if we play like we’re capable, I think we can meet our team expectations of winning the league, going to the NCAA Tournament and seeing where we can take it from there.
Q-What was the highlight of last season from your perspective?
ALLARDóWinning six of seven games toward the end of the season was a high point because we were really rolling as a team. The one game I could pick out as memorable was the Cal Poly Pomona game at home in front of a great crowd where we won in overtime. It felt like the fans didn’t sit down the entire game.
Q-What are your expectations for the team in 2006-07?
ALLARDóMy expectations for the team are high. We have the ability to beat every team that we have left on our schedule and, in my opinion, there is no reason that we shouldn’t as long as we bring maximum intensity and focus every night and realize we are better as a team than we are as a bunch of individuals.
Q-The team has three veteran guards, yourself, senior Robby Peters and junior Andrew Hatch. What different things do each of you bring to the court?
ALLARDóRobby is the best shooter that I have every played with and that is obviously his strength. But, he’s worked on his whole game and has become a much better defender in his four years.
Andrew is hands down the best on-ball defender on the team. His strength helps him control the other team’s guard as well as protect the ball with confidence when our team has it.
I like to think that I bring the ability to slash to the basket and create a shot either for myself or a teammate. All three of us bring experience and leadership that helps our team stick to the game plan.
Q-The team has been without Hatch and fellow starter Henry Patterson since the start of the regular season. What is their status and how will their return help the team?
ALLARDóAs far as I know, Henry will miss the Hawaii Pacific game and then be back. Even though he has been injured, he’s been working very hard to stay in shape and I think that when he returns, we can expect him to be the high percentage scoring threat he was last season. His presence will undoubtedly attract focus from the other team’s defense.
Andrew will be able to start working back after we return from our Christmas break, Dec. 27 and we hope he’ll be ready to go very soon after. Andrew’s return will bolster our backcourt depth and our entire defense as well as provide another vocal leader on the floor.
Q-How would you handicap this year’s CCAA men’s basketball race?
ALLARDóThe coaches’ poll selected Humboldt State to win the league and though they had a slow start in the league’s opening weekend, they are probably still the team to beat.
Cal Poly Pomona is off to a fast start and they return a pretty solid lineup from top to bottom, so they will be a team to reckon with. San Bernardino and Bakersfield are traditionally solid and always seem to reload with high level talent.
I truly believe that we are at least as good as any other team in our league if we play as we are capable. We hope to be at the top of the standings when the beginning of March rolls around.
Q- This is your third season under Head Coach Bill Carr. What are his strengths as a coach? How has his coaching style evolved since he arrived?
ALLARDóCoach Carr’s biggest strength is knowing what it will take to win. Team defense is the key to victory in the CCAA. Coach stresses that and makes sure ours improves every single day.
The veteran guys joke that Coach Carr has gone soft and is not as isolated as he was in his first year, but I’m pretty sure that was by design. The team had to gain coach’s respect before we were able to open up two-way lines of communication. But, since we’ve begun to earn his respect, he has been much more open to suggestions, whether it be basketball strategy or where to eat on the road.
Q-What part of your game did you work on most in the off-season? What do you expect will be the results of that work during the season?
ALLARDóThis off-season, I worked on improving my in-game skills, meaning I tried to practice the shots that I was most likely to get in games, and I tried to work on my skills like there was always a player defending me.
Another part of working on game skills was getting comfortable playing with my teammates over the summerólearning where each player likes the ball and what their strengths are. I expect to be ready for anything a defense throws at me and I also think I will gel with those teammates that I worked with over the summer much more quickly.
Q-Do you follow the rest of the basketball world? If so, what teams and individuals do you admire and draw from?
ALLARDóI am a basketball junkie. I check scores every night and love to watch games, especially college basketball since it is more of a team game and each game means more.
My favorite player is Jason Kidd. I’ve watched him since my Dad took me to one of his games in high school. I just think the way he makes his teammates better and how he is so versatile are to be admired.
I’ve also really enjoyed watching the mid-major teams beating up on high level Division I teams because there are no egos on those teams and everybody shares the ball.
Q-If you could play a week for any basketball coach, who would it be?
ALLARDóI would like to see what it would be like to play for Gonzaga coach Mark Few. He seems to get so much out of his players and consistently beats teams that seemingly outmatch his.
He talked to us after we played them last year about needing to have a “swagger” when you play basketball, to know you’re the better team and I think that confidence is something he instills in his players.
Q- Who would be your teammates in a “dream” three-on-three lineup?
ALLARDóI would love to play with other guys that are great passers, like John Stockton, and guys with size that move very well without the ball, like Grant Hill in his prime.
Q-You graduated from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose where a number of other recent UCSD athletes also attended? What’s the connection between Mitty and UCSD?
ALLARDóBoth are very similar in the sense that they are competitive schools that are challenging academically but also have great pride in their athletic programs. These similarities made UCSD an attractive choice for us Mitty graduates.
Q-Outside of basketball, what do you enjoy about San Diego?
ALLARDóI mean, what’s not to love about the location and the weather here in San Diego? I fell in love with the school the first time I walked around campus. I also enjoy the diversity on campus. I am great friends with a large number of athletes, but I also try to keep in touch with my freshman year roommates who are a great group of guys.
Q-How do you balance class work, basketball and a social life?
ALLARDóI think athletes have an advantage. In my case, basketball keeps me disciplined and on a strict schedule. You know you have to get your class work done in less free time, but the discipline basketball provides allows me to be successful in school.
As far as social life goes, that is also intricately connected to athletics. I like to go to the other athletic events, hang out with other athletes and I would not have it any other way.
Q-What do you hope to do after you graduate from UCSD?
ALLARDóMy UCSD degree will leave me with lots of options but I’m not at a point where I’m ready to decide what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I just know that my time at UCSD is going to have me well-prepared no matter what direction I go.
Q-Basketball-wise, what do you want to accomplish before you leave UCSD?
ALLARDóAll of my goals are team-oriented. I would like to go deep into the NCAA Tournament and see what march madness is all about. As a player, I just would like the guys that are left when I’m gone and the coaches to be able to tell future players that I played hard every day, set a good example and was there at the starting point for the UCSD men’s basketball program to become a national powerhouse.