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Q&A With Jeff Pendergraph

09/15/10
  1. Written by: caseyholdahl  / avg. rating: 5.0



    As training camp nears, members of the Trail Blazers have returned to Portland in preparation for the 2010-11 season. Jeff Pendergraph, entering his second year in the NBA after four years at Arizona State, is one of many players who have found their way back to the practice facility. Casey Holdahl of blazers.com caught up with Pendergraph after a recent workout to discuss the offseason.

    Casey Holdahl: What have you been up to since summer league?

    Jeff Pendergraph:
    Nothing much. Kept working out a little bit with (Bill) Bayno and Kaleb (Canales), worked out with Andre (Miller) and Elliot (Williams) down in L.A. Then just been enjoying family time before I had to come back to work. I've been back about a week, a week and some change.

    Casey Holdahl: How was this offseason different for you than this offseason?

    Jeff Pendergraph:
    I don't feel like there's as much pressure. The big thing was this time last year I was on crutches. My surgery was just about a year ago. I was on crutches right now last year, laying in a bed doing rehab worrying about whether I was going to play basketball at all. So that's the big difference.

    It started in summer league, wasn't as much pressure, felt like I knew the game more. It felt like I had a major advantage over all the other guys playing that were rookies and guys that didn't play as much in the league or played in the D-League. There's no experience like playing in games, having to go through all that stuff and playing with the real vet guys, all-stars. I think that helped me be a little more at ease and not go as fast, but still be able to play as hard, be more efficient with my game.

    Casey Holdahl:
    So you get done with summer league, then you go back to Cali?

    Jeff Pendergraph: Yeah, I went to Cali. I didn't go anywhere. No vacations. Everything was either Portland, Cali or Vegas for summer league.

    Casey Holdahl: How did you end up working out with Andre and Elliot?

    Jeff Pendergraph: They were down in L.A. Dre was down there and Bobby was there. Bobby (Medina) called me, said 'Hey, we're in L.A.' I'm like 'Alright, you guys are almost an hour and a half away.' Just drove out there anyways every day, get in as many workouts as I can. Working out with Andre and Bobby, it's good to get structured stuff than just going to the gym and putting up shots. It's a lot better.

    Casey Holdahl: Anything in-particular you've been working on this summer?

    Jeff Pendergraph:
    Everything thing has kind of been overall skill stuff. A lot of stuff me and Bayno have been working on, more face ups, being more comfortable facing up, getting to my backdown moves. A lot of stuff that LA does, but more -- I don't want to say aggressive because LA is aggressive and physical -- but it's different. I play different than he does, but trying to add that, how he plays, face up, go drive and be able to play off that kind of stuff while still maintaining how I play, my aggressiveness, my mentality while trying to add some of LA's game too. Just a lot of stuff. It's been fun.

    Casey Holdahl:
    How do you see yourself progressing this year? Have you set any personal goals?

    Jeff Pendergraph: Right now, I'm starting with training camp. From there you can ask me and we'll see how it goes from there. It's training camp, so I want to go in there and kick butt. Not even just to fight for playing time because of course you want to do that, but more that I think it will help us get better as a team.

    We need to push ourselves now and try and get mentally and physically ready for that long season and playoffs. We want to be mentally prepared for game 83, 84, 85, all the way through the 90s. We want to be ready for those. I think it starts in training camp, so I think it's my job to help get everybody ready, play as hard as I can, push everybody, push myself. I get better, the other guys get better. It's like a win-win.

    Casey Holdahl: How would you characterize these informal runs?

    Jeff Pendergraph: They're fun. It's good to get going. Everybody is starting to get a feel for everybody else. The older guys are getting a feel for how Elliot, AJ (Armon Johnson), Luke play. And then those guys are getting used to how Brandon, LA, Jerryd, how they play and what to expect when training camp starts. It's going to be a lot more amped up when training camp starts because coach will be here and it's more structured. Getting a feel for everybody, start building that chemistry and that camaraderie earlier.

    Casey Holdahl: What have you thought about the rookies?

    Jeff Pendergraph: They're good. I think it's crazy that they're all left handed. All three of them.

    They're good though. Elliot is really fast. He's got crazy athleticism. AJ, he's a dog man. He plays his heart out. He don't back down from nobody. He just wants to please. He wants to get better, he wants to do good and do it by any means. And Luke, that kid is just a talent. He can score. He's a lot bigger than you think. He's a pretty solid built kid, can shoot the heck out of the ball. He's athletic too. Real smart.

    Guys are really good and I think they'll they'll fit in really well and pick up stuff really fast, be able to help out.

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