James Batemon, a senior point guard from Milwaukee, is having another great season for the Lions. He is averaging 16.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.7 SPG. James is top 10 in the WCC for scoring (tied for 7th), assists (7th), steals (1st), and free-throw percentage (7th at .829%). I called up James to see how his final collegiate season is going and to see what he thinks it takes to pull off an upset against Gonzaga.
Arden Cravalho: James, your team was off to a hot start in preseason play (12-2) but started to cool off a bit in conference play (5-6). What has your experience with the West Coast Conference been like this season? Is this conference improving in your mind?
James Batemon: Well, conference has been pretty tough for us as a unit. Still looking for that signature win to get us over the hump and into the top 4. This conference is definitely improving and is tough from top to bottom. There are no easy nights in the WCC.
AC: You took a loss at Gonzaga in the first meeting this season, 73-55. What can you expect from the Bulldogs and what must you do in order to come away with a win against the #3 team in the country?
JB: We must take care of the ball on offense because they get rolling in transition. We also must convert on the offensive end and force them to turn the ball over. Can’t let them get comfortable.
AC: Besides yourself, who should Gonzaga fans be aware of on your LMU squad?
JB: I feel like everyone brings a little something different to the table. We will definitely need all 12 guys to pull an upset off against the #3 team in the country.
AC: LMU is ranked 13th in the nation for points allowed per game (61.8). What does Coach Dunlap preach on the defensive end that has been working so well this season?
JB: The thing he preaches is to give a 100% effort, take accountability, and help the helper. Basically, when someone makes a mistake on defense we need to help each other to limit the magnitude of the mistake.
AC: What is it like playing under Mike Dunlap?
JB: He’s very tough but helpful for all of our guys. He pushes up mentally and physically to become the best basketball players we can be. He challenges us to defend because defense wins games and when you are forcing teams to turn the ball over, you are able to get easy transition buckets and the ball moves a lot more.
AC: This is your senior season. What kind of impact do you want to leave at LMU? What has been your favorite memory (so far) since you’ve been with the team?
JB: Well, I just want to leave behind the legacy that I gave it my all every time I hit the floor. I want people to know that my teammates love me as a teammate and that I did whatever was necessary for my team to have to best chance at winning games.
My favorite memory so far has to be beating BYU at home last year. It was coach’s first major win against the top 3 teams in the conference and it led us in the right direction for the rest of the year.
AC: What would you have to say about the future for this program? What can we expect from the Lions next season?
JB: I can say that even though we are losing three seniors, we still have a lot of talent returning and should be good for years to come. You can expect another top defensive performance next year from that group.
Thanks to James for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with me. TSSF wishes him the best of luck against Gonzaga tonight. The Bulldogs are going for their 15th straight win while the Lions are trying to get a win streak started after taking down Portland on the road last Saturday.
*Arden Cravalho is a senior at Gonzaga University... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho