After playing in just 10 games during an injury-plagued freshman season, junior Christian Hatch has started his last 35 games for the UC San Diego Men's Basketball team and is one of the key players for a program that appears to be on the rise. The 6-foot-8 Henderson, NV native is averaging a team high 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and posted a double double of 24 points and 14 rebounds in an early December contest at Cal State Monterey Bay. He's made an impression on Head Coach Chris Carlson. "Christian is a hard worker who's done a really good job in the weight room and committed himself to what we're trying to do here," said Carlson. "He's been through a lot and was kind of thrown into the fire last year but he's really grown and has turned into one of the better big men in our league." As the team headed into the NCAA-mandated holiday break, Hatch took time to talk about his progress and that of the team, as well as the outlook for the future.
Q-Have you been surprised at all by the team's strong start this season?
HATCH-I am not at all surprised by our start this season because everyone on our team did a great job in the summer and pre-season preparing themselves for the upcoming year. Everyone's hard work has showed in the games up to this point and I think we will only improve from here.
Q-In your mind, what elements have been the most responsible for the success the squad has had?
HATCH-The most striking thing that stands out to me is our team's balance. We have three of four guys in double figures every game and anyone on our team has the ability to have a big night, which makes it difficult for an opposing team to plan their defense.
Q-After an 0-2 start, UCSD got its first CCAA win last week. In a pre-season poll, the conference coaches picked the Tritons to finish 11th. Where would you place your team and is that prediction a motivator?
HATCH-I know everyone on our team believes we are better then the 11th spot, but we don't let it bother us and just use it as motivation to go out and try and prove everyone wrong. As the old saying goes, "it's not where you start it's where you finish."
Q-You missed much of your freshman season with a shoulder condition. Did anything positive come out of the time you spent on the sidelines?
HATCH-As unfortunate as that shoulder injury was, I think in a way it was a great learning experience because it gave me a better appreciation of how fortunate I am to be playing the sport that I love. I found out how quickly it can be taken away, and I now try to have a sense of gratitude each time I step on the court.
Q-You started all 25 games as a sophomore and every game so far this season. Where did you feel you made the most improvement last year? At the end of this season, where do you expect you'll be able to say you've improved the most?
HATCH-My sophomore year was all about gaining experience with playing at a higher level and gaining chemistry with my team. This year I'm hoping to improve on my rebounding and defense, which are things that can always get better.
Q-When you're on the court, what are some of the things you try to concentrate on, offensively and defensively?
HATCH-The thing I always try and focus on is just playing as hard as I can at all times. For the most part, a lot of little mistakes can be made up for as long as you are going all out every play.
Q-You listed Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki as your favorite NBA player? What is it you like about his game? Is there anything that he does that you try to integrate into yours?
HATCH-I've always respected Dirk for having an all-around game. He is a 7-footer but can step outside and shoot, take guys off the dribble, and he grabs a lot of rebounds, so he is difficult to guard. Any big guy, including myself would benefit from being able to do those things.
Q-What are the things you like most about playing college basketball?
HATCH-The greatest thing I've experienced with college basketball is the friendships I've made with my teammates. I consider each one of them family, which would be hard to find doing anything else.
Q-The average fan just sees the 40 minutes the team is on the court each night. What are some of the behind-the-scenes facets of being a college player that those on the outside would be surprised to know?
HATCH-Most people don't realize the time commitment that it takes to be a college player, especially at a high-academic institution like UCSD. We have to balance the workload of school with the time spent being a full-time athlete. I think most athletes would agree though that it is more than worth it.
Q-What qualities do you look for in a good teammate? Who on the current team best exemplifies those traits?
HATCH-Being a good teammate means being unselfish, willing to help each other out at all times, and being able to forget about individual achievements for the good of the overall team. What is great about this year is I can't think of a single guy on our team that doesn't display these qualities.
Q-If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
HATCH-One thing that I am always trying to work on is to not let things get to me as much while I am playing. Sometimes I let things like a missed shot or a foul call bother me, and I need to be able to just forget about it and focus on the next play.
Q-Besides simply teaching the X's and O's, what impact does Head Coach Chris Carlson have with his players?
HATCH-Coach Carlson as well as Coach Olen and Coach Allard are great at motivating the team and pushing us to do our best. You can tell they want to win just as much as we do and it is rewarding to play for coaches like that.
Q-You're from Henderson, NV. What attracted you to UC San Diego and how does the lifestyle here differ from what you were used to?
HATCH-I actually lived about 15 minutes away from the UCSD campus until I was about 11 years old so it was sort of like coming home when I decided to come to school here. Also, the coaches and players that I met while being recruited were more welcoming then any other place that I encountered so it was an easy decision when I was given the opportunity to go to school here.
Q-Off the court, what are some of the things you enjoy doing?
HATCH-I am pretty much your average college-aged kid when it comes to hobbies and interests. Most of my roommates would probably tell you that my favorite thing to do is take a good nap, and they would probably be right.
Q-You lived in the dorms as a freshman. What was the most unusual thing that happened there during the year?
HATCH-Staying in Asia Hall 300 my freshman year was, without a doubt, the most eventful year of my life, so it's very difficult to pick one thing out to talk about. There was always something going on. I would wake up to go to practice and there would still be people up from the night before playing video games. There was always something to do in the dorms.
Q-You're a psychology major at Roosevelt College. Where do you hope to go with that?
HATCH-While I am still relatively undecided when it comes to life after college, I do hope to go to graduate school of some kind. Business or law school are currently my top two choices, but based on my history it is very possible that could change by the time I graduate.
Previous Q & A Articles
Blake Langland (Men's Swimming & Diving) November 27, 2011
Sarah McTigue (Women's Soccer) November 8, 2010
Brandon Yee (Men's Soccer) October 11, 2010
Bryce Madsen (Men's Water Polo) September 23, 2010
Annette Ilg (Women's Soccer) September 9, 2010
Ricci Luyties (Women's Volleyball Head Coach) August 24, 2010
Kevin Messey (Head Athletics Trainer) July 7, 2010
Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010
Christine Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010
Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010
Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010
Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010
Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010
Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010
Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010
Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010
Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010
Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010
Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010
Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009
Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009
Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009
Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009