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Q&A With Wesley Matthews

09/10/10
  1. Written by: caseyholdahl  / avg. rating: 5.0



    Wesley Matthews may only have one year of NBA experience under his belt, but watching him during his first days in Tualatin playing at the team's practice facility, you would swear he's been in the league for far longer. From tutoring rookie Armon Johnson on the intricacies of perimeter defense to calling a foul on himself after what looked like a clean block, the second-year guard out of Marquette conducts himself with the quite confidence of a 10-year vet.

    After one of his first workouts at the practice facility, Matthews sat down with Casey Holdahl of blazers.com to discuss the offseason and what traits he brings to Portland.

    Casey Holdahl: What has your offseason been like since signing?

    Wesley Matthews: Same as before signing, just working, staying in the gym. I'm excited, trying to stay in shape.

    Casey Holdahl: Have you been working out with anyone in particular?

    Wesley Matthews: With my trainer back home in Madison. His name is Seneca Blue. He's done a lot of good stuff for me. He was my AAU coach growing up. It's hard to find people that really have your best interest at heart and I know he's one of them.

    Casey Holdahl: AAU coaches kind of get a bad rap sometimes.

    Wesley Matthews: Sometimes you get lucky. I've been blessed to have the circle that I have around me. It's been great.

    Casey Holdahl: What have your first impressions been now that you're in town and working out with some of these guys? I assume you probably knew some of the guys already.

    Wesley Matthews: I didn't! I didn't know anybody. But it's fun, I'm enjoying it. There's a lot of talent, a lot of youth and just hunger.

    I'm just keeping my eyes open, absorbing everything and trying to be a leader as much as I can, even though I'm on a new team. Just being me, playing the game and trying to find where I fit in.

    Casey Holdahl: Speaking of being a leader, I saw you over on the far court working with Armon. Looked like you were showing him some defensive positioning.

    Wesley Matthews: Yeah, just some tricks that I learned over the year. Eighty-two plus game including the playoffs, you tend to pick up stuff. Armon, he's the kind of player who really wants to be good. Really, really wants to be good. When his number is called he wants to be ready. He's trying to pick my brain like I did with others, and like I continue to do.

    Casey Holdahl: You were in quite a different place last offseason. Has your approach changed at all this offseason now that you're not playing for a contract?

    Wesley Matthews: No, because last year, it wasn't about the money. The money is great. I'd be lying if I said I don't care about the money. Of course, everybody cares about money! It's the foundation of how you survive. But for me, it's just that I want to be great. I want to be as good as I can, so my work ethic has increased even more. Just getting a taste of it last year, I want to be better than I was.

    Casey Holdahl: What kind of pickup player are you? How would you describe your game in these informal runs?

    Wesley Matthews: Kind of observant. Sometimes I'm a bystander, but I wanted to come in with this new team and let everybody know that I can play, and that I want to play and I want to do everything to help this team win. I'm not trying to go out there and do too much but at the same time I don't want to be laid back. So I'm kind of torn because I want to be assertive, I want to be aggressive, I want everyone to know that I'm here to play and I'm here to help this team and I love winning.

    Casey Holdahl: Are you torn because you're the new guy and you don't want to step on toes? Explain that.

    Wesley Matthews: Just being new, while at the same time always being a leader. I've always been a leader and it's tough coming into a new team where they have an established all-star and a lot of great talent around him and here you come trying to lead. You don't want to have people think 'Well, who is this guy?' But I don't get that vibe at all from anybody. B-Roy has been awesome. He's a cool dude. The whole team really. Everybody is just great. I think that they see from playing against me last year that I'm a competitor.

    Casey Holdahl: Do you think having played against these guys and their knowing what you've did in your first season gives you some credibility?

    Wesley Matthews: I think so. As ballplayers, you respect work, you respect hustle, you respect grind, you respect heart and toughness. That's what I've always played with. I think that kind of carries over with my reputation.

    Casey Holdahl: I see you've got this article here from ESPN about your rise from an undrafted free agent. You surprised at all that people are so interested in your story?

    Wesley Matthews: A little bit, yeah. A little bit. I've always just been playing. Basketball has just been basketball. And now people are really intrigued and really excited. I don't really try to take the time to sit back and admire everything because when you do that I feel like you get passed. You let off a little bit. I just want to keep my head forward, stay humble, stay grounded and just keep working.

    Casey Holdahl: You've mentioned leadership a couple of times. Was that something the team talked to you about before they signed you?

    Wesley Matthews: Yeah, they liked it. They liked that I played with toughness, played with heart, played defense, do all the little things that's necessary to win. Those are attributes of a leader. There's many attributes of a leader and they saw those qualities in me. When they sat down and talked to me and got to see the kind of person I am, I think some additional qualities stuck into their minds, that I'm really about winning by all means.

    Casey Holdahl: You look at this roster and it's got quite a few guards, guards that can play. Some might say there's too many guys at that position. Do you view it as a competition?

    Wesley Matthews: I think it's a positive. I guess it depends on how you look at things, but I think it's a positive. We're going to need each other. Eight-two plus games is a long time. We're definitely going to need each other because everybody brings something different. When we get into camp and really click and really get into preseason and if we're hitting on all cylinders with all these different bodies and different talents and skill sets, that's a weapon. That's very dangerous.

    Casey Holdahl: You mentioned in the ESPN article that you felt like you pressed at summer league last year rather than letting the game come to you. Are you worried about that coming into a new situation here or do you feel like you've established yourself?

    Wesley Matthews: I just let my heart and toughness take the lead and everything else will follow suit. You go out there, play hard, play tough, play as a team and everything else will fall into place. I'll learn this offense. The guys trust me right now. I'll learn when I can pick and choose when to go, when to attack, when to shoot and be able to make plays knowing that, on the other end, I'm always going to be on point on defense.

    (Armon Johnson walks by)

    We already talked about you boy!

    Casey Holdahl: Are you one of those guys who plays defense and just lets offense come or are you still kind of thinking about what you're going to do to score?

    Wesley Matthews: I let the offense come, but at the same time, some people say they don't think about offense. Of course you think about offense. It's a necessary part of the game. I kind of let it come to me but when it's time to attack and make plays I'm confident enough in my ability that I can do that.

    Casey Holdahl: You also mentioned in the ESPN article that you "retired" your mom. Did she want you to do that?

    Wesley Matthews: Yeah, yeah she did. It's an amazing feeling. She did so much work for me, sacrificed so much. To be able to say 'Here you go. Rest, relax.' She still hasn't relaxed. She doesn't really know how to relax but to know she doesn't have to go to work, that's a good feeling.

    Casey Holdahl: What are you looking forward to most with training camp coming in a few weeks?

    Wesley Matthews: Just meshing. Hopefully we can get this chemistry going right away. I know it's already a pretty close team and I hope I can add to that and see where we go from there.

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