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Thursday September 16, 2010 2:53 PM

Ready To Thrill


Q&A with Houston Rockets' rookie Patrick Patterson

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - With the start of Rockets training camp rapidly approaching, the Toyota Center practice court is the place to be as players start ramping up the intensity level in an effort to make sure their games are good to go. You see a sharper focus during the various training drills players perform and the competition taking place during the daily scrimmages is certainly heating up as well.

So with the guys getting ready for the 2010-11 season, it's time for us to do our part as well. And what better way to do so than to catch up with the various members of the team to find out what they've been up to this summer? Today Rockets.com sat down with lottery selection Patrick Patterson.

JCF: Your rookie season is about to begin. How has life changed the most since you were drafted and became an NBA player?

PP: The amount of time I have to myself outside the gym, whether it’s after a workout or weightlifting. Let’s say we workout for four hours – then you’ve still got the rest of the day to yourself. You of course have the option of coming back to the gym or working out more or getting up a bunch of extra shots, but you still have so much free time to yourself.

Back in college, everything was scheduled: you had classes in the morning, then you have to lift, then you’ve got practice, then study hall and you don’t get done with everything until about 8 o’clock at night, so you’re pretty much busy the whole day. So one of the things that’s really shocked me so far is the amount of time I have to myself – so much free time, so many extra things you can do and so much time to be by myself.

JCF: So what do you do with all that extra time? Because there are obviously productive ways you can use that time, but also some people have issues when they have too much spare time on their hands.

PP: I come back to the gym, get up extra shots and do cardio – just little stuff for my body. I also go to the movies.

Then one of my good friends back home, he does boxing. I’ve been talking to my Kentucky teammates like Daniel (Orton) and DeMarcus (Cousins) and they’ve been boxing, too. So that’s something I want to look into as well. Boxing is good for cardio, so if it’s a possibility and won’t hurt me or affect the way I practice and workout, that’s something I definitely want to look into.

I just want to stay busy rather than sitting at home on the recliner just watching TV.

JCF: What movies have you seen lately that you really enjoyed?

PP: Takers. And I still have to see The Last Exorcism.

JCF: Do you like horror movies?

PP: I love horror movies. I’m a big Freddy fan. I love all of them, especially the classics. Even though the new one has better visual effects, I’m still a big fan of the old ones.

JCF: Was that something that you liked even as a little kid?

PP: It actually started off when I was growing up. The first horror movie I saw wasn’t even a horror movie – it was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. My father was outside and I was in the basement where it was dark. I had this video cassette of Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits, and I was watching all of them when the next thing you know Thriller comes on, and when the people rose from the grave, I ended up jumping behind the couch and hiding behind it because it was so scary. But then I kept watching it until I finally toughened up, and ever since then I’ve loved horror movies.

JCF: Wow, so how old were you when this Thriller experience took place?

PP: I was about 7 or 8.

JCF: And that was sort of the genesis of your affinity for horror movies?

PP: Once I got over that, I started falling in love with the blood and the guts – just all of that stuff. I’m a gore fanatic, so the gorier the better (laughs).

JCF: That’s crazy. I never would have guessed. So do any of those movies actually scare you?

PP: No, I don’t get scared.

JCF: So you’ve never seen a movie that’s actually scared you?

PP: Not since Thriller. That’s the only one.

JCF: Well I don’t really know how to top that. So let’s get back to basketball for a bit. You’ve had a chance to do a lot of scrimmaging at Toyota Center the last few weeks, how do you feel that you’re fitting in and who has really stood out and impressed you?

PP: I definitely feel like I’m fitting in. I’m just trying to get used to the guys, get a feel for them, how they play, how they like to attack and how they like to move away from the ball. I feel like I’m doing pretty good. Hopefully I’m making an impression on them and letting them know that I can play, that I can hang with them and that I can contribute to the team.

One of the guys who has surprised me the most would have to be Chuck Hayes. He’s obviously known for his spectacular defense. He’s a big body and he’s hard to get around. So everyone knows about his defense. But watching games, it doesn’t seem like he does much on offense – every now and then he’ll make an offensive move and he’s the king of finishing on the other side of the rim.

So a lot of people see that, but not many see him actually getting the ball and scoring the ball 8 straight times in a row from the post making moves, the way I’ve seen it this summer. I didn’t know he had that type of offensive game, that type of repertoire down low on the post. So that’s something that definitely shocked me, his overall ability to score all over the court. He was even shootings 3s and he hit a game-winning 3 over me, so his ability to score has really caught my eye.

JCF: Well I’m sure since Chuck is a fellow Wildcat you were probably more familiar with his game and reputation than other rookies might have been. But when you saw him for the first time, saw this 6-6 guy you tower over, did you think you’d be able to take him no problem?

PP: Definitely. You may look at him and think, “This guy’s short, I can go over him or around him because he doesn’t look that fast or that quick,” but when you step on the court and actually go up against him, you find out quick that your assumptions are wrong because Chuck has got some fast feet on him. You may be able to go over him but you aren’t going to get that close to the basket because he’s going to push you all the way out.

My impressions when I first got here were that I thought I could just keep jumping and shooting over him but as I learned, he pushes me all the way out to the free throw line because he’s so strong and his body is so wide. So it’s definitely something he’s been helping me out with and teaching me, in terms of how to move around defenders, and how to better utilize my offensive skills.

JCF: Everyone has commented about how receptive you are to the learning process. So how much has it meant to you to have a guy like Chuck who has so much knowledge to share?

PP: When I first got here, I knew that Chuck was someone I wanted to be my mentor, someone I wanted to look up to and look forward to as someone to get advice from. When I got here I talked to him right away just because he went to Kentucky and we have that history together. He plays basically the same position I do, he’s been in the league for quite some time, and he’s been through the highs and lows. He’s been through the hardships and he’s put a lot of hard work in, so he knows what it takes to stay at this level, and he’s someone I definitely look up to and someone I definitely look to for help.

Same with Shane Battier when he gets here – he’s the same way. He’s been through a lot and put so much work in in order to stay where he’s at right now, so he’s someone I’m going to look up to as well.

That’s one of the things I love about this team: we have people with experience under their belt, and so many great guys who are willing to help.

JCF: One of the first things that stands out about the Rockets’ roster is its incredible depth, with the team going at least 2-deep at every position. I know it’s early and training camp hasn’t even started yet, but have you thought at all about what you want your role to be when the season starts?

PP: Not much. I know we have so much talent on this team. We have so many great players on this team. We have depth at every position, like you said. My role, what I want to be is a team player. I want to play, but if I don’t play, then it’s what’s best for the team.

I want what’s best for the team in order for us to get to that ultimate goal which is a championship. So I just want to be a team player, do whatever is necessary and asked of me. I’m working on my overall offensive game and my defense, I’m working on my face-up game from the floor, and I’m just leaning on other teammates for advice to help me get better. I want to be someone who contributes and does what’s asked of him, and just play hard every time I’m on the court.

JCF: What are your goals for this season?

PP: This season I want to make it to the Rookie-Sophomore Game. I want to make it to the playoffs and make it to the championship. For myself, at some point I want to start a game. Whether it’s just one game or more, I do want to start at some point. But that’s only going to come with hard work and just proving to the coaches that I’m ready to play and that they can rely on me.

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