In order to win a bet with Isaiah Thomas, he asked me to mention his Twitter page. The first of them to 500 followers wins, and the other has to shave his head. You can find MBA’s Twitter and become a follower here.
Here’s what Matthew had to say when we spoke:
Montlake Madness: Tell me a little about what you’ve been up to this summer?
Matthew Bryan-Amaning: Well most of my summer, I was back on campus at UW, taking a Swahili class and working out with the guys. Since I’ve been home (in the UK) I’ve been working out with old teammates that are either in college in the states or playing overseas in Europe.
I also played in a basketball tournament called “Midnight Madness” which has been one of my favorite events to play in since I was young. I also got to go to Lebron’s preview of his new movie “More Than a Game” and talk to him, and hang out with him a little.
MM: Did Lebron give you any advice?
MBA: He saw me play a little and just said “the sky’s the limit,” and to keep working hard, because I’m in a good situation. And, he said that he will be watching and following my progress. I also got to talk to LeBron’s high school coach, Dru Joyce, who remembered me from high school and the Nike All-American camp, and he said the same sorta thing, and said that he would be in touch when i get back over to the states.
MM: Can you give me your impression of your play last season? What do you feel good about? What do you wish you had done differently?
MBA: Last season, when i was hurt, being a cheerleading type was different for me, since I’ve never been hurt to the point where I HAD to sit out a game. When I slowly got better, I could see that the team atmosphere was just a bunch of guys that didn’t really care about points as long as we got the W at the end of the day.
This was evident when teammates were happy with my production towards the end of non-conference and the beginning of conference. (Note: MBA had his best stretch of the season during this time.) I was just happy that we were still winning and that I was on my way to being part of a special team.
People don’t see everything we do on a daily basis, and because we were so deep, that just made practices so much more intense. And, if it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t have been where we were at the end of the Pac-10 season.
Obviously, I wish my numbers stayed the same as they were early, but I had little injuries that I’m not using as excuses, but definitely affected some of my production. I’m just planning on using it as a learning experience and trying to build on my strides forward for next year.
I’m just trying to stay consistent throughout the year. People don’t understand how difficult it is, and knowing I have the abilty to score on most bigs in the country, I’m staying positive toward myself and self-confident.
MM: What was the high point for you last year, as far as self-confidence? And what was low point?
MBA: The low point was when I was coming back off injury, because everyone had seen a change in practice and stuff since my freshman year, and it was hard not being at full health through the whole season. I had the main injury at the beginning of the year, then sprained my foot during conference play, which didn’t help.
The high point was midway through the non-conference games, I guess, where i was averaging around 15 points and 10 rebounds through about five or six games. I didn’t even know I was averaging that much until I saw it on a playback of a game on FSN. Also, some of the conference games, such as Arizona at our place, where i only had around 9 points or so with about 6 boards and a couple of assists, but i only played something like twelve or fifteen minutes. It’s good knowing that I can produce against bigs as high as Jordan Hill’s caliber on any given night.
MM: So, this season, there are a lot of expectations that you’ll be a huge part in replacing the production of Jon Brockman. How does it feel to have fans and media debating whether you’ll be able to anchor the team’s frontcourt, which some have called the team’s weakness coming into the season?
MBA: I think it’s good to have fans believing that i have the ability to help fill Jon’s shoes, but me and Jon are two very different players, so it’s not like now that Jon’s gone, I have to change my game to substitute for what we’re missing with him leaving. I’m just going to keep doing the things I do but with better production.
Obviously, when you have guys that can score like Isaiah, or pass like Abdul, or even play D like Venoy, you’re going to be seen as one of the weaker parts, but I’m not going in there thinking that way. I’m going into the season as an underdog, and me and my teammates in the frontcourt have been working hard to not only prove people wrong, but not to let everyone write us off just yet.
We’ll publish part II of the interview very soon, and hear from MBA about what parts of his game he’s been working on, who he thinks would start for the Dawgs if the season started today, and what he sees for his future after UW.
Thanks for coming!