Aug. 8, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Jason Rich earned All-ACC Freshman Team Honorable Mention honors by the ACC Area Sports Journal after a strong first season at Florida State. He displayed the talent and poise as a freshman which will make him a starter in the ACC during the remainder of his career as a Seminole. Rich visited with seminoles.com and talked about the upcoming 2005-06 season, what he has done to improve this summer, the differences between playing in high school and college and the leadership role he will take on as a sophomore.
What do you feel is your best attribute as a player?
My best attribute as a player is that I am a team player. I feel like I can take a leadership role with my teammates and that I can do everything the coaching staff asks of me. I pride myself on doing all of the little things when it comes to being a member of this team. It may be picking up one of my teammates if he is having a bad practice. I feel like it is the responsibility of a team leader to pick his teammates up to make sure that he doesn’t continue to have a bad practice. Those are things I feel are important to the overall success of a team. Those types of things go a long way to having a season where you can reach individual and team goals.
What are your expectations for yourself as you enter your sophomore year?
My own personal expectations entering my sophomore year are high and I have some very realistic and reachable goals for myself. I think we have a team and a number of returning players with experience and we need to take advantage of that experience. As individuals, we have taken advantage of this summer to improve not only our individual games but our team game. I am not in the position to predict wins and losses or how well I think we are going to perform, but we are definitely expecting a lot more from ourselves on the court and in the classroom. In particular Isaiah Swann, Ralph Mims and Al Thornton have made strides and have worked hard to improve their games. Ralph has gained a lot of confidence, Isaiah has become more comfortable on the court and Al is well on his way to realizing his potential as a player.
What one area of your game do you feel as though you need the most improvement?
The area of my game that I need to improve on the most was shooting the basketball – particularly 3-point shooting. Following my freshman season that was something I decided I really wanted to put more time into. I put up a lot of shots this summer. The most in one single day I put up was probably close to 1,000.
What are your aspirations for your career here at Florida State?
My aspirations for the remainder of my career for myself and for our program as a whole are to become a national contender. I want our program to gain respect and be considered one of the great programs in college basketball. We have the coaching staff, the talent and we are at the right university to accomplish those goals. We are a very talented team and we have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.
How much of a transition is it from high school basketball to basketball here at Florida State? Was it difficult?
The biggest difference between playing in high school and playing in college is understanding the intensity of the game and playing to that high of a level every day in practice and in each and every game. I had to learn how valuable every possession is. As you get more involved in the game and begin to understand it more, you begin to realize how the game is played. You begin to learn things like moving without the ball and the intensity you have to bring to each play are the things that make you a winner. The coaches continuously teach us to get better and help us grow here at Florida State. Those types of things have been a big part in helping me begin to mature as a player. In high school, I didn’t feel that same pressure.
What are some of the things Coach Hamilton and the coaching staff helped you improve on during your first season at Florida State?
The main things that Coach Hamilton and the coaching staff helped me to improve on during my freshman season were moving without the ball. They helped me continue to develop my basketball knowledge and increase my understanding of the game. They also taught me how to play within the system because that system is one that works. We have all learned, as players, to put total faith and trust into what the coaching staff is teaching us.
How much of a leader do you want to become in the locker room?
I feel I need to be a leader for this team and I feel every member of this team needs to be a leader. I think my teammates realize how hard I work and respect that. Being a leader is not easy but I think I am up to the challenge and can be a person who helps lead this team. A leader is something that we need to be successful. If you bring the attitude that you are going to be a leader, you can be a leader both on and off the court, in the restaurants, in the apartment and on road trips. To be a leader you have to handle your business by setting an example to all of your teammates.
During the off-season, do you like to relax and get away from the game or do you concentrate on practicing more and improving?
As far as relaxing and getting away from basketball, I made a choice to focus on basketball this summer. I made basketball my job and my relaxation. I got away from the game when the season was over for a little while. That time away allowed me to recharge my batteries and helped me get the passion for the game back into my system. I felt like that passion was somewhat sucked out of my body after last season and I wanted to get it back. I really didn’t spend that much time away because I love this game. I also need to work hard to be a better player. Becoming a better basketball player is my passion.
What school do you get most excited about playing?
Playing is exciting for me so I get excited about playing our next opponent. The school I most get excited about playing is North Carolina. Our game at Chapel Hill during my freshman season was a very fun game for me. When you take a look at the history of that program and what they have accomplished they are one of the top programs in the country. It is very exciting to play North Carolina. It felt great during that game in Chapel Hill to be winning at halftime. I wished we could have closed it out because games are 40 minutes long and you don’t get anything for winning the first half. It was a great learning experience and we have to learn how to play at that level if we want to be at that level.
Who is the toughest player you played against during your freshman season?
The toughest player I played against during my freshman season was B.J. Elder of Georgia Tech. Not only is he a strong player but he is a very smart player. He is a very physical guard who uses his screens well, shoots the ball well and is a smart basketball player. Anytime you are playing against such a smart player it makes your job a little bit more difficult. I learned a lot from playing against him and need to incorporate some of the things he does into my game.
What is the biggest reason you chose to come to Florida State?
The biggest reason I chose to come to Florida State was to help build this program into a national contender. I want to help change the mindset and make this a winning program. It would have been easy to go to a school where they win all the time but I have never wanted to be an average player. I want to become a better player by helping my team and my schools become a better program. I feel that with the talent here and the players here that we are going to become a program of national significance.
How big of an influence on your career has your family – parents and brothers – had?
The biggest influence on me and my life have been my mom and my dad. I am the youngest of nine and I have never heard my parents complain about anything. My dad worked for 35 years and I never once heard him complain about going to work and getting his job done. I’m sure he has dealt with different trials and tribulations but I have never once heard him say `I quit.’ He provided for our family and now he is retired. My mom has made countless sacrifices for me throughout my life and helped me get to where I am today. My brothers also made huge sacrifices for me and I wouldn’t be here today without them. They put their lives on hold for me to help me do the right things and get to the right places. They have all helped me reach all of the dreams I have sought so far in my life.
What type of internship are you working this summer and what kind of experience are you gaining?
I am interning at Capital Preferred Insurance this summer in the information technology department. The company is run by one of our former players, Byron Wells. Is has been a great way for me to meet new people, experience new situations and be in the working world. I have been able to learn a lot about computers that I did not know. I have been working with the company computer system and have learned how to install software and troubleshoot when that software doesn’t work as it is supposed to.
What are your plans for life after basketball?
My plan for life after being successful with a basketball career is to be a businessman with a network of companies. I would like to be able to put myself into position to work hard and be successful and be able to live a good life.
Do you do anything before a game to pump yourself up?
Before the game, the most important thing I do is prepare myself mentally to compete against the opponent we are about to play. I like to find an inner focus in order to get myself ready to give everything I have during that game. That’s the way I have always approached games and that I get myself prepared to play.