Bryce Taylor Interview
By Aran Smith
[img_assist|nid=3655|title=Bryce Taylor|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=468]Aran Smith: In the Pac-Ten Conference final against USC you shot a perfect 11-11 with 7-7 on 3s for 32 points. You were really in the zone. Describe that game a little, and what that feeling is like.
Bryce Taylor: Well for any scorer really, once you make a few shots you start feeling good about yourself. For me I just got some good looks and then I was just trying to play within the flow of the game, not force it much and I just continued to knock down shots and played based on the way the defense was playing me. Everyone was clicking that game, Aaron (Brooks) was playing great, Martin (Leunen) was knocking down shots so we just got in a great rhythm, we played team basketball and I was just in one of those zones where I was knocking down my outside shots and that opened up some drives for me.
You made it to the Elite Eight where you ran into the eventual champion Florida Gators, can this year’s team get even further?
Yeah. We have the players on this team where it’s not going to be because of the lack of having talent but I feel like if we build up team chemistry and continue to play our style of up tempo ball where we like to push it ahead and drive and kick and play to how our team that suits to our players like Malik (Hairston), Marty (Leunen) and Tajuan (Porter) where we can just knock down our open shots. You know kind of play how the Phoenix Suns play, you know we’re probably going to go small again. I feel like if we play well together, and defend well enough, anything’s possible. But it’s definitely going to be tough because the Pac-Ten is stacked this year.
Your Dad, Brian Taylor had a 10 year NBA career, how has that helped you in your career so far?
Well he’s taken me from a young age and just taught me really the fundamentals of basketball. That’s where the love of my game really came from is my father. Just getting me out there with me and starting from scratch teaching me the little things, from shooting the ball with proper technique, stuff like that. You know he’s just been there guiding me the whole way offering me advice and he calls me after every game with advice to let me know what he feels I can improve on. He’s definitely the biggest influence on my basketball career.
Talk a little about your teammates, you have 4 of 5 starters back from last season, how is the team shaping up?
Well everybody has started to look really good. Our coaches are pushing us to the max right now because we have a lot to live up to after the year we had last year. So we’re not going to let it slip due to a lack of work so we’ve been on the track twice a week. We’ve been in the gym you know the 2 hours per week that the team is allowed to (with coaches) and then we get in and play open gym pretty much every day on our own when we aren’’t doing team stuff. So, Marty’s starting to look really good, he’s shooting the ball confidently and playing tough. Malik’s coming back and getting into good shape. Tajuan’s starting to learn that point guard role not having Aaron Brooks to feed off trying to get everyone involved. But I feel that 5th spot is open to whoever earns it.
Tajuan Porter is known mostly as a scorer with Brooks at the point last year, can Porter step in and handle the PG position?
That’s going to be the big question everyone is asking. But just having played with him this summer and right now in the fall I think that he’s definitely going to be up for the challenge. He has the ball handle skills and vision to get it done. Plus the style of play is going to help him out too, because we get the ball out of the point guards hands early anyways. We kick the ball up the floor, and once we get it up the floor he kind of turns into a scorer pretty much anyways. That’s not going to be a real worry for us because we feel that if teams try to press us, we havea point guard that came in by the name of Kamyron Brown and myself that can help out with just getting the ball up the floor. And then once that happens we get into sort of a motion offense where everybody can score.
Malik Hairston stayed off the court during the summer, what was the reason behind that?
Well it just came down to his health. They’re trying to get him back to 100%. That’s something that has bothered him in the past is just some small nagging injuries that didn’t allow him to play up to his maximum ability. But he’s back now playing with us and he looked great today. We just got done playing. He’s working his way back, so us four guys are definitely going to determine what kind of a year we have, and Malik’s going to be just as big a part of that as everybody else.
Aaron Brooks won rookie of the month for his play in the Las Vegas summer league, how good a pro will he be?
Man, that guy's great! Just the way he plays, I’ve never played with anyone like him. Because even at his small size, he can get to the rim at will. And he has so many shots and floaters that he can get his shot off with. He’s in a great situation in Houston where he’s not going to have to do too much scoring because they have T-Mac and Yao and everybody down there. But as a point guard he can get the ball to other people and make the proper play. People tried to knock him early here in his career for not being a true point guard but when plays need to be made he can make them. If they double down on Yao or T-Mac, he can knock down that open shot. So for me, I feel he’ll be in the league for a while as long as he’s blessed with health. He’s in a great situation.
With Aaron Brooks off to the NBA, is this your team now? Will it be your responsibility to shoulder a lot of the scoring load with his departure?
Yes. I feel it’s been a natural progression for me to step into that leadership role. I just feel that I demand everybodies respect with my hard work. I’m starting to be a lot more vocal than I have been in the past. Because it’s my opportunity to do it. I’ve seen a lot of great players do it in the past in the Pac-Ten. I’ve seen Salim (Stoudamire) do it, I’ve seen Brandon (Roy) step up and you know a lot of other players too, Channing Frye, guys step up in their senior years and take more of that leadership role. And you know, you take the blame when your team loses, and you give credit to everyone else when your team wins. That’s just how it goes for guys that step up into that leadership role. I’m definitely looking forward to it because it’s something that’s going to be a challenge for me. But it’s not going to be just me it’s going to be Malik and Marty as well.
What are your goals for the season both personal and for the team?
Well personally, I don’t ever really set statistical goals or anything like that, I just try to play within the flow of our team offense and just try to play my game. I feel like I have enough talent, and enough tools to put the ball In the hole. And for me, a lot of the struggles earlier in my career for me came from playing selfishly. But the more I just played smart, and I watched film to see where I can get shots from and I saw a lot more success come from that. I just try to play at my speed and when the shot is there, take the shot, and if somebody is closing out on me, I drive to the basket and try to make a play when I finish above the rim or pull up or dish it off to an open player. So just reading the defense and reacting and everything else will take care of itself.
Is the Pac-Ten the strongest conference in the country this year?
I’m going to say it is, just because I’m a West Coast guy. Having played here three years and seen players come in, I know we have great guys coming in this year so, with OJ Mayo and Kevin Love and all the big names coming in, it’s definitely not going to be short on media attention. But I do feel like we have the best teams and players.
You play in one of the oldest and most historic gyms in the country (80 years), describe playing at the Mac?
Oh Mac Court is unreal because you got diehard fans that were with us even when we were struggling. We got the Pit Crew It’s just a great college atmosphere to play in, you couldn’t ask for a better place. Especially if you’re a West Coast guy, you can’t ask for a better atmosphere. The Pit Crew is the students and alumni for both basketball and football, people who just love Oregon sports.
In your freshman and sophomore seasons, you had maybe the most impressive set of dreadlocks in college basketball, was it strictly aerodynamics, or did you get some pressure from the coaches to shave it off?
Well me, I’m more of an individual in kind of having my own style, style of dress and style of music that I listen to. My hair just kind of went with that. But for me I had a bit of a struggle my sophomore season I was injured for about the last third of the season and I was just going through some rough times so I just wanted to cut my hair off and get rid of the attention that came with it because I was being too much identified with my hair. Instead of being identified for what I was doing on the court.
Now you mentioned music, what kind of stuff are you into off the court? Movies/music?
I’m a big Kanye West guy. As far as rap music goes. I like to listen to different types of music, rock and reggae. Actually, we have a concert coming here this weekend with Little Wayne and Sean Kingston coming here on Saturday so it’s probably the biggest show that’s ever going to come here as far as rap music, so I’m excited to go to that.
You tried out for the USA Team for the Pan American games, what did you take from that experience?
It was really competitive. You find guys that are as athletic as you are and as hungry as you are, so it’s a great way to see where you stand with those guys. For me it was great going up against guys like Wayne Ellington, Shane Foster and Alonzo Gee. Guys that will probably be going to be in the NBA one day, and some of the big names in college basketball. It was competitive but at the same time it gave me confidence to know that I was just as good or better than the guys I was going up against. It also gave me things that I could go home and work on to improve my overall game.
What area of your game have you focused on the most this off-season?
Well I’ve tried to add more of a midrange game. One and two dribble pull ups. For me, just because I found myself shooting mostly catch and shoot threes or taking the ball all the way to the rim so I try to add one and two dribble pull ups to my game and just sticking to what I do well. and working on my weaknesses like trying to dribble the ball better with both hands, finishing with both hands. Making sure I’ve got my jumpshot and my catch and shoot so that it’s automatic when they leave an opening. Playing to my strengths making sure I’m in as good of shape as I can be, because conditioning has been something that has helped me take my game to the next level. Seeing my opponent get tired and then having that extra push at the end of a game. So just little things like that and making sure I’m in the best possible shape I can be going into the most important year of my career.
What do you feel you need to show scouts this year to be a first round pick?
I need to do what I’ve done well up to this point in my career but build off of that. Show that I can lead my team to wins and shoot the ball consistently from outside. Take the ball to the hole and finish strong above the rim. And like I said mix it up, mix in some mid-range when there’s a bigman down there and not necessarily force it, so just show that I have the overall skill package and just continue to work on my defensive intensity. For me it’s just important that we take care of this team and make sure that we win games, as far as NBA, everything will take care of itself.