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Back in June I caught up with Mizzou guard Kim English to get his thoughts on the upcoming season, the incoming recruits, and how he's progressing as a player.  Since the basketball season officially tips off tonight I figured I'd post the Q&A again.

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Originally posted on June 5, 2010

Mizzourah: I’ve heard you’ve been working on your midrange game a lot this summer. How’s that coming?

English: “Last year I took a lot of shots I didn’t want to take. I forced things a bit. Now I’ve realized if I improve my ball handling I can get by guys. But when I can’t get by them, now I can just stop and shoot over them. It’ll be nice to have a little midrange game to be able to do that. Sam Cassell has been up to the gym I play at a few times this summer. I’ve been working with him, trying to learn from him, because in my mind he has one of the best midrange games of all time.”


You're known for having a great work ethic.  What motivates you?

"Whatever I do, I want to be the best at it. I want to win a national championship. I want to be the best basketball player to ever come through Mizzou. I want to be the basketball ever. Now to some that may seem far-fetched, but that’s why I’m working. I’m workin’ to be the best. It may sound like a lot, but it’s true. If I shoot for that, even if I don’t necessarily make it, I’ll still be in some good company."

“I want to win a national championship. I want to be the best basketball player to ever come through Mizzou… I’m workin’ to be the best.”

 - Kim English

 

Is winning a national championship a reasonable goal for this year's team?

“Yeah, it’s reasonable. We have a good chance for a lot of reasons. We’re a talented team and if we play the right way we definitely have a good chance.”


The incoming recruiting class has been a popular subject for fans this summer. What are your thoughts on the incoming guys?

“What they did in high school is good and great and all, but they haven’t played a second in the Big 12 yet. I don’t really get caught up in recruiting.  We have a lot of talent coming back and we’re going to be a good team.  They’re going to be a part of that obviously.  Hopefully they come in and take heed to the upperclassmen.  They need to learn the Mizzou way and really listen to what coach Anderson is saying.  We play unselfishly, we’re a team.  We don’t get caught up in stats or individual stuff or anything like that.  We play tough defense for 40 minutes.  Eventually instinct should take over.  We just try to be humble and listen to everything coach tells us.”


Talk about the relationships Mizzou athletes have with one another. It seems like a lot of you are friends away from your respective sports.

“We’re all really good friends. We all eat together, we go out together. We’re kinda outcasts if you will. At Mizzou you’ve got all different types of groups. You’ve got the Greek people, the people in clubs, the rec sports players, the researchers and then it’s us. We’re kinda unpopular but popular at the same time. It’s weird because it’s not like high school where you know everyone. At Mizzou, people will come up to you and you don’t necessarily know them.”


How do you feel about being so well-known in Columbia?

“I try to stay humble.  I think I keep everything in perspective.  Some people get to Columbia and start to think they’re a big deal.  I come from a big city so I can keep everything in perspective.  I was in New York City this past weekend and not a person in Manhattan had any idea who I was, so I keep everything in perspective.”


Do you think the football and basketball teams feed off of each other’s success or are they completely unrelated?

“Definitely. It’s a competition, but it’s a good type of competition. Like at Kansas the football program isn’t as good as the basketball program. I mean the basketball team at Kansas is one of the top 5 programs of all time. The football team isn’t. So that might create tension within the program. At Alabama for example, it might be vice-versa.”

"At Kansas, the football program isn't as good as the basketball program."

- Kim English tells it like it is.

“At Missouri, you’ve got a football team that won the Cotton Bowl in 2008, and then a basketball team that has won 54 games in the past two years. We’re both successful programs and getting better, so it’s fun. We go and tailgate at their games and they come to our games. I know right where they’re sitting so I’ll look up at them sometimes during the games. We push them to be the best they can be and they do the same for us.”


What are your thoughts on the fan support at Mizzou?

“At Mizzou, the fans are fanatics. The football team loses two games in a row and everyone is ready for it to be basketball season. Well then we go and lose to Nebraska and everyone is saying, “Oh, I can’t wait for spring ball,” but that’s the nature of the beast and you gotta love it.”

Mizzou should draw bigger crowds in 2010-2011.


How much do the losses of JT Tiller, Zaire Taylor, and Keith Ramsey hurt this year's team?

“I mean it’s huge. In my opinion, losing Demarre, Leo and Matt was rough but as far as making up for that, that was easier. We had guys that could step up and fill their scoring void. Maybe, not the rebounding and the interior defense, but we knew we had good players who could step up and fill their scoring hole.

With this year’s seniors we’re losing three crucial, crucial blue-collar guys. You can’t put into words what they did for the team. You just can’t say enough about what they did. They were three truly team guys. It’s going to be tough to replace that blue-collaredness approach that they brought to every game. You can’t put into words the things that JT, Zaire and Keith did night in and night out. They did things that no one else would. They didn’t have a single care about how many points they had or anything like that, they just wanted Missouri to have more points than the other team. That was huge. Those guys were leaders.”


Give us one player who's primed for a breakout year this year.

“Um… It’s not like that for us. It’s just a team. We don’t have a go-to player. We’re not like that. It can be anybody on any given day. You never know who’s going to be that guy. The thing is finding consistency. Knowing the four or five guys that will give it to you every night. If you’re top three guys are scoring 15 16 and nine, and your bench is giving you seven, seven, and six, we’re in great shape. We don’t want a guy averaging 30 points a game. We just want guys giving a consistent effort and contribution. On our team, guys have roles and they fill the roles that they are good for. Even my six points per game freshman year was important.”


It sounds like you study a lot of past and present NBA players. Who’s game do you try to match the most?

“I just watch a lot of games. In watching games you learn stuff. That’s my research.  I just try to be myself. I want to be Kim English. I still take moves from every player I watch. Kobe, Ray Allen, Stephen Curry, and Carmelo, those are the guys I take stuff from the most. When I become a pretty good player hopefully people will mold themselves after Kim English.”


Wait a sec, “when you become a pretty good player?” What are you now?

“When I say pretty good, I mean an elite player. I think everyone has work to do, even the elite pros. I’m an OK player right now, but I’m working to become better all the time.”