Shaw plans to make some noise

By Gus Bode

Junior Jamaal Tatum has grabbed the headlines with some impressive offensive showcases for the Salukis men’s basketball team. Fellow junior Tony Young is always recognized for his defensive pressure, while sophomore skyscraper Jamaal Foster has made his presence known with his shot-blocking defense.

Sophomore Matt Shaw, on the other hand, has been relatively silent on and off the court. Often unheralded, Shaw provides the Salukis with a consistent wide body in the post and has posted numbers good enough for second on the team in rebounds (4.8 per game) and third in scoring (8.8 per game). Without his contributions, SIU may have had less to show for the young season than a mediocre 2-2 mark.

The Daily Egyptian spoke to the starting forward recently to find out more about his changed role on the team, the start to the season and a disappointing trip to Alaska for the Great Alaska Shootout.

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Daily Egyptian:Four games, a 2-2 record. Is this the start to the season you expected?

Matt Shaw:I don’t think so. I thought we’d start off a little bit better, obviously. We can’t harp on that now. We have to focus on what’s ahead of us on our schedule.

DE:How would you describe the 1-2 outing at the Alaska Shootout?

MS:It was out of character for us. We didn’t really play like we usually play, like we should play. We have to put that behind us now and focus on the games ahead of us.

DE:Did you and the rest of the team take the loss to Division-II Alaska Anchorage personally seeing as it was a D-II team?

MS:Losing to Division-II is obviously an upset. We’re going to take it hard regardless of whether it’s a D-II or D-I or whoever we lose to. We just had to bounce back and work even harder because it’s not going to get any easier for us.

DE:With players like Lamar Owen and Josh Warren gone, how do you think your role has changed for this year?

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MS:It’s not just me. It’s all the big guys, everyone’s stepping up to take on a bigger role.

DE:Have you approached this year differently than last year?

MS:Not really, I try to take the same approach to every game. Be humble and be confident and go out and play hard every game.

DE:What are some of the main things about your game you’ve worked over the summer?

MS:Putting up a lot of shots, working on my jumper, a little bit of ball handling, post moves obviously, just a little bit of everything.

DE:You’ve been working on your outside shooting game. Are you looking to venture out to the three-point line much this season?

MS:A little bit, if I get a chance. I’m not going to focus on that alone and let that be the only part of my game. I’m just trying to add a little something extra to what I’ve got.

DE:So you won’t hesitate to take that shot?

MS:No, no. Not at all.

DE:At 6-foot-7, you’re far from the biggest job in the league. How do you compensate for that when you go against guys who are two, three, even four inches taller than you?

MS:We work a lot in the weight room, which is a big part of our success down low. Working hard on the weights, getting strong. Being able to move people out of the blocks regardless of how tall you are. It depends on how strong you are.

DE:As a sophomore, you’re already one of the more experienced members of the team, which shows how youthful the team is. Is that an advantage or disadvantage to this team?

MS:I think it can be both. It can be more of an advantage because we have guys who have experience in big time games like Jamaal (Tatum), Tony (Young) and myself and some of the other guys. We bring a lot of energy with us being young.

DE:It seems you’re one of the more quiet and soft-spoken members of the team. Has there ever been a time you’ve been really vocal on the court?

MS:Yeah, at times. You can’t ever hold back all your emotions. It’s an emotional game. You have to be able to let it out regardless of what happens. I try to be vocal with the young guys sometimes to assume more of a leadership role.

DE:With all these long road trips, do you ever play any practical jokes on your teammates?

MS:No, I don’t play any. And they usually don’t get played on me. I’m not much of a jokester. It’s usually between (Tatum), Kyle (Smithpeters) Mike (Dale) and Tony.

DE:What’s one joke that sticks out in your mind?

MS:Not food fights, but there’s some feuds with some food. I’ve seen steak fat rubbed in people’s faces – which is definitely not friendly.

DE:What’s the main difference between this year’s team and last year’s team?

MS:I’d say obviously the people on the team. We’ve lost seniors, but people on the team have stepped up and taken on new roles.

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