We sat down with Vandal center Marvin Jefferson last week, and the Silver and Gold’s big man had some big thoughts for us. So much, that we had to break up his interview into two parts!
Last week, we posted the first half of our interview, as Jefferson looked back at the season that was.
Today, we’ve got the second half — talking to Marvin about the Vandals’ hopes for the coming season, his plans after he completes his senior season for Idaho and his thoughts about the competition in the WAC.
The Vandals’ season tips off this week with scrimmages tomorrow in Coeur d’Alene and Friday in Moscow. The Silver and Gold Game begins at 6 p.m. in Memorial Gym, as part of Idaho’s homecoming festivities. The season-opening exhibition game against St. Martin’s is set for 8:05 p.m. on Nov. 6, also in Mem Gym.
How did your summer go? I understand there was a real emphasis on working together and building the whole team.
I was here the entire summer and didn’t go home once. All the guys were here for most of the summer. We all got together, worked, lifted, studied, it was almost like in season. We were self-motivated and that was the best part, I think. It’s not just the coaches pushing us — we all want to up our game.
A lot of the freshmen came in during the summer, they got on board with the system and we got to know them. Everyone on the team got to know each other — there’s no awkwardness, nobody on the team is left out and we’re real tight-knit.
It’s a step up from last year because last summer nobody was here. Those few extra months with everyone together and playing basketball, it’s going to pay off this season.
What are the parts of your game you want to work on?
Number one, it’s about staying out of foul trouble. I was just talking to Coach Verlin about that in my preseason meeting with him, and I have to do better at that.
Number two, free throws — I’ve been working hard on my free throws. I think I only shot 57 percent last year and that won’t get it done. I’ve been shooting a whole lot of free throws this summer.
Number three, I want to do better at rebounding. Also, I need to just get more mature as a player — be more consistent, take my time in the post and make smarter decisions about when to go score and when to kick the ball out.
What do you like about your game?
You know, I’m real critical of myself. If you ask me, I feel like I didn’t do too well at all last year. The thing I did best last year was get better, I felt like I did a good job working on my game. I need to keep doing that this year.
Who are the toughest big men in the WAC that you go up against?
The thing about the WAC is that there’s a lot of good big men in this league. I can look at every team and see competition in the post.
If you ask me about the players that impress me the most, that I think of as my competition, I’d have to start with Gary Wilkinson (of Utah State). He’s gone now, but he’s one of the best post players I’ve ever played against, in terms of his power and his fundamentals.
Magnum Rolle (from Louisiana Tech), he’s a good player. He reminds me a lot of myself in the way he plays. I like his game and he has some good post moves I wouldn’t mind stealing. I like to look at other players and see what they do better than me that I can also do.
Tai Wesley from Utah State, he’s big but he’s very crafty and skilled. Luke Babbitt (from Nevada) shoots the lights out and he can score on you the post, and New Mexico State probably has the biggest lineup in the WAC so they’re tough too.
What’s it going to be like having depth this year?
It’s going to be kind of weird and a lot of help at the same time. You know, there are a lot of guys who are really good on this team and some will be on the bench a lot more than they like. But at the same time, as far as the team goes, we’ll be a lot more consistent. One guy comes out, one guy who’s just as good or almost as good will come in. We don’t lose much by the starters getting a rest and that’s a big thing for us.
What’s the buzz around campus?
It’s so much better. I feel like last year we had no respect on campus. At the beginning of the year nobody was coming to the games. Everyone got Vandal fever when we started winning, people showed up to the games, the stands were packed and we had one of the best attendances ever in the Cowan Spectrum.
Now, I think everyone’s on board because of what football’s doing. They’re starting it off for everyone by exceeding everyone’s expectations and that makes it that much better. I’m real proud of football and women’s basketball, volleyball — all the sports, everyone’s building their programs really well.
What’s the mood on the team right now?
We’re extremely excited. I mean, with the guys we have and with everyone having a better understanding of our system and a year of experience, I think we can win the WAC Championship. With our talent and teamwork, I don’t see any team beating us to that. As long as we work hard and stay consistent, we can have the best Vandal basketball team in a long, long time.
Does your family ever get to see you play?
Oh yeah, when we played at Fresno and San Jose, I had like 40 people there. I didn’t expect it at all — my high school coach, he brought the whole team down there. My junior college coach and his wife and kids came, people I didn’t even know and of course my whole family — it was a really good coming-home experience.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I’m going to work my tail off this year and do as good as I can. I’m aiming for the highest level, hopefully someone will notice my effort and maybe I can get drafted or sign a free agent contract in the NBA.
If not, I know for a fact that I can play overseas. I’m going to go wherever basketball takes me and make a career out of it. My major’s psychology but my passion is basketball, so I’m going to take it as far as I can go. Hopefully this is just the beginning for me.