You all remember Theo Robertson! 2005-2010 was not THAT long ago. Yes, it was the Pac-10 and yes we had beaten Stanford in like 7 out of the last 8 Big Games when Theo left. But it was not that long ago! So, you'll be happy to know (if you didn't know already) that Theo is back with the team. He is a graduate manager and, as you'll learn below, angling towards a career in coaching.
Perhaps someday Coach Robertson will lead the Blue and Gold into Haas Pavilion! But for right now, he's here answering some of our questions. Many thanks to Theo not only for his awesomeness on the court, but also his awesomeness in answering these questions. And many thanks to Fiatlux for helping organize and coordinate this interview!
The Cal Men's Basketball team (like the women's basketball team) is an exciting team with an explosive offense this season. They have one of the best backcourts in the nation! They have as good a chance as anybody else to win a wide open Pac-12. Get out there and buy some tickets and get out to the games. They have two big games upcoming with UNLV and Creighton!! GO BEARS!
1. In your opinion, how has Cal Basketball changed since the 2009-2010 season?
This is a really broad question, so feel free to concentrate on any particular area (e.g. coaching, team dynamics, support, etc.) I think the biggest difference with Cal Basketball since our championship season in 2010 has been the level of expectation. Our group of seniors took a great deal of pride in trying to raise the bar and set a new standard for Cal Basketball. I think we did that. The expectation for Cal Basketball is to win Conference championships and advance in the tournament year in and year out.
2. You played for both Ben Braun and Mike Montgomery. Compare and contrast.
I had great experiences playing for both Coach Braun and Coach Montgomery. As freshman under Coach Braun I learned how to be successful at this level. He helped me develop the skills necessary to be an impact player. Ultimately, his belief in me was huge in allowing me to grow as a player. It was also great working with Coach Montgomery as well. Obviously, winning a Conference championship was a highlight, but it was a great experience to learn from a coach who has had a great deal of success in this game. Coach Montgomery put our group in a positon to do what we did well and we were able to have some success.
3. Injuries were always a challenge during your college career. Are any of the injuries that you sustained in college still impacting your life now, or are you 100% healthy?
The three hip surgies have been a struggle to deal with at times. Because I had operations on both sides there will always be issues with alignment and things of that nature. I don't have nearly the amount of pain as I did prior to having those surgeries, but I am also nowhere near as active. I try to stay in good shape so as not to overload the joints and keep fluidity within the joint. I would like to play in the ProAm or some competitive league this summer, but the daily grind of trying to play at a high level is not a possibility for me.
4. Describe how Monty changed things around when he arrived at Cal, and how he impacted your development as a player.
When Coach came in he garnered our full attention. We all where aware of the success that he had at Stanford. Additionally, his experience coaching in the NBA was something that we all were interested in as we had aspirations of playing at that level. Anytime coach wanted to reach us he knew exactly what to do. A good story from his Olympic experience, time in the NBA, or times as a #1 ranked team in college would surely grab our attention. Coach has a really good feel for putting players in positions to succeed. His attention to detail in regards to offensive execution was something that I took from him and added to my game. Having lost athleticism due to the hip surgeries, I was able to remain effective and improve statistically because of that attention to detail. The importance of setting up cuts, timing, and angles was always reinforced in practice and adding those things to my game allowed me to be an All-Conference player.
5. Do you see your current position as a springboard into coaching, and do you anticipate making coaching your career?
I think that I am in the perfect positon to begin my career in coaching. In this role I have the opportunity to experience every facet of coaching and administration. I am apart of the coaches meetings on a daily basis and have the opportunity to be on the floor during practice. It has been a unique experience to learn from Coach and the rest of the staff. I'm very observant and am trying to gather as much information as possible during this season. There are not many people out there that have the chance to work with a soon to be Hall of Famer. Coaching is something that I absolutely want to do and I could not be happier with the situation that I'm in.
6. What was your favorite place to play in the Pac-10 and what was your least favorite? Did opposing crowds ever have an effect on your game?
My favorite place to play in the Pac-10 was probably Arizona. You could always count on a sellout and their teams were always really talented. UCLA was always fun because of Pauley Pavilion. I also liked playing at Washington as well because I was extremely comfortable shooting the ball there. Stanford was probably my least favorite place to play. I never had much success there and it always seemed like an underwhelming experience. I must say it was great to get a couple of wins there, especially winning the title outright in 2010. Opposing crowds never affected my game. I put so much work into my game and took pride in being a player whose game traveled. It makes for alot of fun competing in hostile environments, but it doesn't impact what I'm doing on the floor.
7. Who had the most range - Ryan, Jerome, You or P. Chris?
Haha. This is a great question. Ryan has such a great touch for a big. Because of his size he makes 27 footers look effortless. He obviously can shoot the rock as he is going to have a very long career doing so in the NBA. Jerome is one of the best shooters that I've ever been around. I think that Jerome benefitted from having the ball in his hands. He was able to dribble into 3's in transition, which is a much easier shot than a catch and shoot situation where you have no momentum. When PC gets going there aren't many guys who can string them together like him. He has the ability to get HOT, and when he does, he makes any shot from anywhere. I'm going to be a homer here and say I have the most range though. We are all elite shooters, but where I think I have a little separation from those guys is shooting all types of shots with range. I'm confident in my ability to shoot coming off screens on both sides of the floor with the ability to read the screen and flatten if necessary. I'm very comfortable in my footwork in any situation and would want to take the big shot no matter who is on the floor. That being said, I was always shocked if any of us missed an open look. It was pretty much automatic if any of us got a clean look.
8. You were a player during your Cal career who could be counted on down the stretch to close games. What kind of mentality did you need to get into? How did you get your teammates into it to finish games?
It all comes down to competing. That is something that I learned in high school at De La Salle playing under Coach Allocco. I always enjoyed when the game was coming down to the wire in a tight ballgame. Nothing changed for me because I've always understood the value of every possession. I think that I would have been nervous in those moments, or hesitated to take a big shot if I didn't put in the work before to give myself a chance to be successful. There is a calming feeling when you know you've made that particular shot everyday when putting in extra work. As for making winning plays (rebounds, charges, loose balls, def stops), that all comes down to not letting your teammates down. In high school during those moments Coach Allocco always used to say "What will you do for your friends?". I always carried that with me, but it ultimately came down to just competing.
9. Who had the craziest pre-game routine and what was it?
I don't know if we had any crazy pre-game routines. I was always impressed with PC though. He is one of those special athletes that could do anything before a game and still be effective. I remember always needing to eat right before a game or else I wouldn't feel right, but he could eat whatever. Sometimes it would be a Starbucks frappuccino, or McDonalds. You could always count on him going up to catch a lob from Jerome in transition though.
10. Who was the one basketball talent that you were never able to develop, but you wish you had?
I wish I had more of a scorers mentality. I could do alot of things with the basketball, but typically would defer. I cared about winning so much that I was always more concerned with doing the things people wouldn't in order to make the team successful. Often times I think back to my senior season in 2010 and wonder what would have happened if i were more aggressive and looked for my shot more. Would the chemistry have worked? I'm not really sure, but I would take winning 100 out of 100 times anyway.
11. If you could go one-on-one against anybody, who would you choose and why?
I would go one-on-one against Michael Jordan. He is the reason I started playing basketball and I believe he is the greatest of all time. I absolutely love his competitiveness and will to win. He was probably the first great athlete with a sound fundamental base, which made him a ridiculous matchup. It would be awesome to go head to head with him.
12. Who was the best player you went against? How did you prepare for him and how do you think you did?
The best player I went up against at Cal was Brandon Roy. I remember when they came to Haas my freshman year and were ranked #10 in the country. The game came down to the last possession and I was guarding him in isolation at the top of the key. I was pumped that we got a stop and won the game. He was extremely difficult to guard because he had great size for his positon and could make every play. Some players are easy to guard when you know they are just going to do one thing. He was a threat to get to the rim, pull up midrange, or just rise up and pull on you because he had size. What made him even more dangerous was the fact that he was an unselfish playmaker as well. He drew so much attention as was really good at creating an opportunity for one of his teammates. In preparation for a player of his caliber you just have to rely on the information you've received in the scout and be sound. Players like him force you to be fully engaged and conscious about what you're trying to do on every possession.
13. What did you enjoy the most as a student athlete? What would you advise recruits based on your experience as a Cal student athlete?
My favorite part about being a student-athlete at Cal specifically was getting the best of both worlds. I had the opportunity to get a world-class education while also competing at the highest level. Living in the Bay Area is also a huge bonus as well. I would encourage recruits, and even current student-athletes at Cal, to fully take advantage of all that the school has to offer. Sometimes as a student-athlete you get wrapped up in your sport and live in a bubble. It's important to get out and engage with the community. There are some great people, food, and new experiences at Cal that are definitely worth exploring.
14. What was your favorite on court moment at Cal?
My favorite on court moment at Cal was the aftermath of beating Arizona State to win the Conference title. We had no idea that there would be confetti or a ceremony. That was a really cool experience. Individually, even though we ended up losing, a nice moment for myself was sinking a 3 as a freshman to force overtime against UCLA. They were number two or three at the time and the game was for the Pac-10 title. I remember Richard Midgley passing me the ball in transition and I let it go with no hesitation. I gained so much confidence from that moment for two reasons: 1) I made the shot and 2) Richard, who was a senior, deferred to a freshman in that moment.
15. What was your favorite off court moment at Cal?
My favorite off the court moment was graduation. I was able to walk with my best friend, Jordan Wilkes, and it was the culmination of alot of hard work. Earning my degree from Cal was a huge deal and I was excited to share that moment with friends and family.
16. Who was your funniest teammate?
Jerome was probably my funniest teammate. He was always doing some funny impersonations or just being silly. Watching him and Max Zhang interact was always a good time
17. Do you keep in touch with your former teammates?
I keep in touch with all of my former teammates. Jordan Wilkes is my best friend and I talk to him and Omar almost everyday. I recently just saw Leon and it was good catching up with him. As far as the guys from my class I talk to PC the most. I havent even noticed a time difference with him. He is always up. Whether its Facebook, WhatsApp, or Skype, I'm always talking to him. I'll talk to Jerome on Facebook and Twitter. Jamal is good for a Skype conversation. I've seen Nikola a few times as he has been back to the states to visit a few times. We all talk about how we miss playing with each other. The guys that are playing always talk about how it just isn't the same anymore. I have great memories with all those guys!
18. Top Dog or La Burrita?
Top Dog all day! Over Christmas break the freshman always stay at Hotel Durant. Jordan and I would eat there at least twice a day as it was right downstairs. I get a couple different things, but I can easily go with a Top with no fixings. It's that good.