This Cougar Hopes To Pounce on Pan American Games
A native Hawaiian, Derrick Low is surrounded by the beach. Sometimes he goes cliff diving which can take him into some pretty deep waters. Nine days from now, Low hopes to takes to take his biggest plunge of his basketball career - diving into the Pan American Games.
As a junior in 2006-07, Low started in 34 games for Washington State, averaging a team best 13.7 ppg. while shooting 44.6 percent from the field, 39.9 percent from 3-point and 78.9 percent from the foul line. Low's Cougars tied the school record 26 wins set in 1941, as head coach Tony Bennett (who just happened to play in the 1991 Pan American Games) earned six major national coach of the year awards. It was a breakout season for Low as well, the 6-1 guard was named to the 2007 All-Pacific-10 first team, NABC District 14 first team, and United States Basketball Writers Association District 9 first team.
Low took time out from day one of the Pan American Trials at Haverford College (Pa.) to talk with usabasketball.com about the Cougars recent trip to New Zealand and Australia and how they compare with 'the big island' where he is from and about joining WSU teammate Kyle Weaver for some extended competition this summer.
Your Washington State team just returned from New Zealand and Australia with a 4-2 record. How did you feel you did personally?
I think I did pretty well. We played the professional teams there and we won four games. Those two games we lost, we only lost by one point each. Personally, I thought I did well against that kind of competition.
What is the effect from the trip after your State team got to spend more time together?
That was a good experience. When you make a trip like that, it brings the team closer. You have fun together, but competition-wise it's always good. You can only take an international trip once every for years and you get to practice 10 days before you make that trip. Anytime you can start practice early and get some stuff settled, I think that's puts your head just a little ahead of the other teams who didn't make that trip.
Coach Bennett won a number of awards this past season after he guided Washington State to a great season. How was he able to do that in your mind?
The reason why he won all those awards is that Washington State has been the doormat in the Pac-10 for so many years. After Dick Bennett came out of retirement and coached the team for three years, I think the majority of the population thought, ï¿½If Dick Bennett, can't do it, Tony can't do it.' We were fortunate to have some veterans and some skilled players and Coach Tony actually did it. It was pretty much a shock to everyone.
How did that feel to be a part of the season?
It felt great. The main reason why we wanted to be a part of this program was to turn it around, and we believed the coaches when they told us from the beginning that if we were a part of this program, we could turn it around. We believed in them just like they believed in us, and to actually do it feels amazing.
Getting back to your trip New Zealand and Australia, both of those are islands. Is there any comparison between those places and where you're from in Hawaii?
They both have beaches surrounding them, but it's a whole lot different. We only stayed in one part of New Zealand -- in Auckland. We didn't get to explore all the beautiful things that New Zealand has to offer. I'm sure it's very nice, but I guess from New Zealand I was expecting it to look more exotic and Polynesian-type like Hawaii. Hawaiian beaches are warm and nice, but I'm biased of course. I think New Zealand and Australia were pretty cool.
I read a little bit about New Zealand and saw that they are big into extreme sports like bungee-jumping and stuff like that. Did the team get to do any of those activities?
We actually did. We did a bungee thing. It was kind of like a slingshot. We started off on the ground and the wires got pulled tight. When the chords were pulled tight enough on the ground, we got rocketed toward the sky up like a slingshot.
Do you think the trip to Australia and New Zealand kinda prepared you for potentially going to Brazil?
Yes, I think it kinda got us used to their shot clock and international play. Also, I think it gave me and (fellow Pan Ams Trials participant and WSU teammate Kyle Weaver) a head start with our conditioning.
How do you deal with the possibility of extended traveling again shortly after you returned from overseas with your Washington State team?
It's definitely going to be tiring, but this is what we live for. We all grew up playing basketball and this is what we want to do.
Your teammate Kyle is with you right now. How is it going through this together?
It means a lot. I've been to camps and stuff before by myself. It's kind of a weird feeling because you're nervous and by yourself. You don't really have anybody to talk to. With Kyle up here, it's easier because you have someone to talk to, and you know the two of you will get through it.
What does it mean to you if you are chosen to be part of this Pan Ams team?
It's a great honor to be recognized with some of the other high-profile players on the list, getting to practice and compete with them. I think that would be cool to be selected because I don't remember someone from Washington State ever being in this situation, let alone two players from Washington State. To go back to WSU having played on the USA team and representing the USA in Brazil would be awesome.