Vandal Spotlight: Steffan Johnson

29 Jul

In the 2007-08 season, Steffan Johnson lit up the courts of the Big West Conference as the Pacific Tigers’ star point guard. He earned First Team All-Big West honors, averaging 14.5 points, 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 46.2% from the floor and a solid 41% from downtown. Last year, he ran into some troubles at Pacific and was expelled. He transferred to Idaho to join Coach Don Verlin’s rebuilding program. Teaming with First Team All-WAC point guard Mac Hopson, Johnson could give the Vandals the most feared backcourt duo in the conference.

We sat down with Steffan last week for his first interview as a Vandal.

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Courtesy AP

Vandal Nation: How’d you get your start in hoops?

Steffan Johnson: It was early. I started when I was two years old, thanks to my dad. He taught me the game and I was hooked right from the start.

Why did you choose Idaho?

Well, the Verlin connection helped for sure. (VN: Coach Don Verlin’s twin brother, Ron, is an assistant at Pacific.) I knew they were rebuilding at Idaho and as soon as I started looking to transfer, I liked what I saw in Coach Verlin’s program. I liked the players he was bringing in and I liked that it would be closer to home. I’m from Seattle and now my friends and family will get to see me play more often.

It seems like you and Mac Hopson have a really good rapport on court. Is that something you’ve been working on?

Not really – I think it’s more natural than anything else. I’ve been working hard to know how all my teammates play, and understand our strengths and weaknesses. With Mac and I, I think it’s just good coexistence on the court.

Is there a plan for you and Mac to run together as the starting guard pair?

Whether we go together at the 1 and 2 slots, that’s coach’s decision. There’s no guaranteed starting spots, I have to earn it. We have to wait and see for practice to start.

But if you put us on the court together, we would be an unstoppable force.

What did you do during the redshirt year?

I worked on the mental thing, mostly – not skills, but my attitude toward the game and my teammates. When I was on the bench or in the practices, I tried to point stuff out to the guys – even though I couldn’t play, I wanted to show that I could be a leader.

Do you have a favorite pro player?

I like the playing style of guys like Dwight Howard and Dwayne Wade, the intangibles they bring to the court – but I wouldn’t call them “favorite.” I pretty much like watching any basketball, period.

Your thoughts on Coach Verlin and the difference between Pacific and Idaho?

Coach Verlin drives me to be better – he’s a real player’s coach. He checks up on me all the time, and the staff as a whole is fun to be around. At Pacific, Coach Thomason is a great coach in his own way. But he was very set in his ways and it was kind of stifling. Verlin really listens to his players and bases his system on the style of play that his players bring to the table. He’ll move things around to fit how we play.

What are you majoring in?

I’m a communications major with a minor in broadcasting. I’d like to work in TV or radio when I’m done with hoops, as a sportscaster maybe.

Talk about the expectations coming off last year and the buzz that’s building around the Vandals.

There’s going to be pressure on us – but that’s the kind of pressure we want. Those full grandstands screaming and cheering, that gets the adrenaline going even harder. We want more of it.

Do you have a good sense about the Idaho/Boise State rivalry now?

Oh yeah – I didn’t realize how intense it was. To see our fans show up, how they got on the Boise State players, when they stormed the court – that was actually kind of hard for me. I was sitting there on the bench going “Man, let me get my jersey so I can get out there and play, forget this redshirt thing.” Those games are going to be something special.

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6 Responses to “Vandal Spotlight: Steffan Johnson”

  1. Jim Best July 30, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    How about telling the Vandal fans he got kicked out of UOP for sexually assaulting another student. He didn’t just decide to transfer.

  2. Travis Mason-Bushman July 30, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    Steffan was never arrested or charged with any crime – and, to the best of my knowledge, is not currently involved in any legal process, civil or criminal. It would be inappropriate for me to report such allegations with no way of verifying their credence, or lack thereof.

    That is in contrast to Marcus Lawrence – who, as we have reported, has faced criminal charges here for theft and apparently lost his scholarship status.

    I was unaware that he had been expelled – the article I read reported that he had been kicked off the team, but didn’t comment on his enrollment status. I’ll update the post accordingly.

  3. Nikka Simoni May 17, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    I know him on a Personal bases and would like to put my input on this. He is a very outstanding individual and I know for a fact that he is a man if his word. I played water Polo with Ryan Brown for The Pacific, I back him up 100%. Thank you for saying what you think but it’s irrelevant if you always believe what you hear. IT’s not about who you know all the time it’s about WHAT YOU KNOW, MIND OVER MATTER SO I’M PROUD! KEEP YOUR HEAD UP. I hope to hear from you Mr. Johnson #5

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Vandal Spotlight – Steffan Johnson « Vandal Nation | College Sports Nation - July 30, 2009

    [...] here: Vandal Spotlight – Steffan Johnson « Vandal Nation addthis_url = [...]

  2. On the Record with Don Verlin: “We want to win this league” « Vandal Nation - August 26, 2009

    [...] to what one might expect from a pair of hotshot point guards, Steffan Johnson and Mac Hopson seem to have a real good rapport on the court. Was that something you worked on [...]

  3. Hoops Preview 2009-10: The WAC’s Best Seniors « Vandal Nation - September 29, 2009

    [...] nothing but improve him. A mix of two point guards can sometimes be volatile, but it seems that Mac and Steffan are committed to working together on the floor. If this pairing lives up to its potential, Johnson will be Newcomer of the Year and the Vandals [...]

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