Q+A: Roy Hibbert
The Pacers center talks Parks & Rec, and Indiana’s up-and-coming squad.
SLAM: Getting back to basketball, I really liked the moves that the team made during the offseason like picking up George Hill around the Draft and signing David West. How do you feel about the moves the team made?
RH: The team is, we are extremely young, we’re talented and we added some pieces, some veteran pieces like you said. David West, an experienced low post player whose pick and pop game is excellent. We acquired Lou Amundson from Golden State and he’s a hustle guy who can actually score in the paint and has really good moves that he hasn’t been able to show. George Hill is obviously long, athletic 2 guard who can play the 1. Plus, with this long lockout and the season starting late I think a lot of these older teams will be a step slower so if we can get out the gate and win those first couple games and just use our youth, we’ll be able to stay a step ahead of everybody else.
SLAM: How do you feel about the 66-game season? How are you going to approach that?
RH: I think its going to be more mentally challenging than physically challenging because you have so many games in a row and the teams that are mentally strong are going to be able to figure out who is going to play what amount of minutes in a specific game because you may have three games in a row. Obviously, everybody is going to be tired and that’s going to equal the playing field so that’s why if you are mentally tough that is going to put you over the edge.
SLAM: I wanted to ask you about mental toughness. In your Playoff series against the Bulls, you guys showed a lot of grit and resiliency to hang tough. It was one of the first times I can remember actually seeing a team learn as a series went on. What did you take from that series?
RH: First it was tough late in the season with the experience of going from one coach to the next and by that time we had Frank Vogel and he puts the utmost faith in his players and lets us make mistakes without jumping on us or barking at us. He lets guys make mistakes, get up, and learn. That’s what we did in the Chicago series. We played those guys extremely tough. With the pieces we added now, I think that can get us over the hump. We learned from game to game to what we needed to do. And now that we have our feet wet with experiencing the Playoffs, we can try to go deeper.
SLAM: I know it’s hard to stop a player like Derrick Rose, but was there a specific piece like a George Hill who could spell Collison, that you thought you guys were missing during that series?
RH: I think more than just our players it was communication. We had never been in a situation like the Playoffs before and I have to say the communication factor is huge. Because our guards like Paul George or Darren Collison are guarding Derrick Rose and I’m calling out “Screen! Screen! Screen!” but they can’t hear me and they are getting their heads knocked off by Boozer or Noah because the arena is so loud. So we learned some ways to circumvent those problems and I think all us players learned from just being in that atmosphere in the home arena and the away arena.
SLAM: Obviously the overall goal is to win a Championship, but do you have any particular goals this year for yourself as far as points or rebounds or anything like that goes?
RH: For me, I just want to be a defensive presence. I was in the top three in blocks for awhile there last year but I dropped out of there but for me defense is almost the most important thing, coming from Georgetown with a long line of centers I was always taught to be defensively strong and that offense will come along so I want to be able to block at least block 2.5-3 shots per game and average double-digit rebounds and everything else will just come.
SLAM: I think you guys are a dark horse to make a run in the East this year. I sort of think of you as this year’s Memphis. Is that an apt comparison?
RH: I always wanted to model our team like the Oklahoma City Thunder where we have youth around a superstar. Then you can add pieces. I mean first, there was Seattle and then when they moved to Oklahoma City they weren’t doing well but they have grown. Memphis with Z-Bo and Marc Gasol they were able to go deep into the Playoffs. We just want to model ourselves after those teams and continue to grow.
SLAM: Who is your closest buddy on the team?
RH: Darren Collison. We are very close. We sit next to each other on the plane, we go to dinner, we talk after the games. I went to his wedding this summer.
SLAM: OK, so I want to wrap this up with a bit of a tough question. If you have to choose just one, who do you got? Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones or Aubrey Plaza?
RH: Oh man. I prefer all three.
SLAM: If you had to pick one.
RH: I got to meet Aubrey. I didn’t get to meet Rashida or Amy Poehler, so I have to say Aubrey.