Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hooping With: Jeff Merchant, Horace Greeley Basketball

ZS: what's your role on this team being a senior and a veteran and what does coach (Dave) Fernandes expect from you?


JM: As a senior, veteran player and captain, my role on the team this year is to lead by example. To go 100% every day in practice and at games to help implement good work ethics in some of the younger players on the team. This season Coach Fernandes expects me to help bring the team together as a vocal leader both on and off the court. Furthermore, my coach expects me to put up big numbers and help carry the team to as much success as possible.


ZS:  what's been the biggest adjustment from sophomore to junior to now senior year how have u grown each year?


JM: The biggest adjustment I made from sophomore year to junior year was definitely maturity. The summer going into my junior year I matured a lot as a person which resulted in me taking the game more seriously and me beginning to realize my potential. During the fall of my junior year I spent a lot of time developing my body physically, and aspects of my game that needed work.


 I worked out at a training facility call LIFT located at SUNY Purchase twice a week which helped me get a lot stronger and more in shape. That fall I also worked out with Brad Ceisler twice a week. We did a lot of work on improving my mid-range shooting and ball handling skills, which have paid off tremendously. From junior year to senior year, the biggest adjustment I’ve made has been stepping up as a scorer and leader.


 I’ve become more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor looking to attack the rim, and defensively looking to grab every rebound possible. Furthermore, I continued to lift this fall at LIFT and just grew into my body which has helped my game a significant amount.


ZS: Several people throughout your career told you that if you become more aggressive you can be a constant double double threat throughout Section 1.


How have you taken it upon yourself to get stronger to the point where you can rip down 24 boards in a game?



JM: Anyone who has seen me practice can tell you I’m always jumping. Dunking whenever I can and just jumping up to the rim constantly. The past two off-seasons, I’ve also just spent a lot of time developing my body through lifting and really have just grown into it. Junior year, everything just kind of cliqued due to my outlook on life maturing. I took the game more seriously and found success last season, and I plan on continuing to be successful this season.


ZS: What's the identity of this year's team and what do you hope to attain?


JM: The team is young and relatively inexperienced as there are only four seniors. Individual player development and team development are important goals for this season. We hope to build a group of players who are more seasoned and have spent additionally time playing together as a group to facilitate and further improve records in the future. This year I hope to help my fellow teammates develop and function as a unit, have fun and win as many games as possible.


ZS: what's the NCAA interest like right now and ideally where do you see yourself the next level?


JM: I had interest from a series of D3 schools, however I decided to pursue mostly D1 schools as they are more consistent with my interests. I intend to play club basketball in college and may possibly try and walk on the school’s varsity team where I am accepted.

ZS: What's your relationship with (former Greeley star) Matt Townsend like and how has witnessing him make it from Greeley influenced you to work harder?

JM: I have an excellent relationship with Matt Townsend. In middle school I spent most everyday of my summers working out with Matt in the Shot Doctor’s (John Goldman) driveway. I got to witness first-hand the work ethic of one of the best players in Greeley Basketball history, and it rubbed off on me. For hours Matt and I would dribble through cones and work on our moves.


Matt was my role model growing up and seeing him make it from Greeley really influenced me to work hard every single day. I couldn’t of asked for a better role model.


ZS:  If you could write your own script, how would you want your career to culminate and what would you want to be remembered for?


           JM: If I could write my own script, I would want my career to culminate with a successful senior season. My idea of a successful senior season is achieving personal success, along with helping lead my team to as many wins as possible. Additionally, I want to help bring my team together to become a family and help my younger teammates develop as players. I want to be remembered for my vocal leadership on the court and my diverse play style. For my ability to defend, assist, score and motivate. In the end I want to help influence younger players to work harder, and have a good time doing it.