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25 August 2008

Malcolm Grant: the Let's Go Nova interview

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
8/25/2008 02:22:00 AM

Malcolm Grant remains a popular player in Nova Nation even after his decision to transfer to Miami this spring.

After Grant's heroics on the basketball court last winter, questions about his benching and transfer have lingered to this day in the Villanova fan community.

Grant agreed to answer a series of questions for Let's Go Nova about his decision to attend Villanova, his season on the basketball court, his playing-time issues, and his transfer to Miami.

Grant's answers in this interview are overwhelmingly positive. There are clearly no hard feelings, and he remains a part of the Villanova basketball family. It's great to see Grant remain positive as he switches gears in his basketball career.

One of the biggest revelations below is Grant's confirmation that his benching had nothing to do with injuries, academics, or disciplinary reasons. Instead, says Grant, it was purely a basketball decision by Jay Wright.

Based on this offensive efficiency analysis by GreyCat showing Grant was by far the best offensive player of the four freshmen, I can only conclude that Wright's decision was flat-out wrong.

But that's water under the bridge. Villanova eventually found success, and Malcolm has found a welcoming new home at Miami and the ACC.

"Read more" below for the full interview. Thanks to Malcolm taking the time to participate and for his thoughtful answers

LGN: You prepped for a year to attend Villanova. What was it about the program and school that led you to wait a year to enroll rather than to play somewhere else immediately?

MG: I went to prep school because I was excited about the year 'Nova just had with Randy and those guys, so when I saw what I was becoming a part of, it was worth the wait.

LGN: Your performance in the 21-point comeback against LSU cemented your status as a Villanova fan favorite. When you checked into the game before the 8-minute timeout, what was on your mind? Trailing by 15 with under three minutes to play, did you still believe the team could come back? And was that last-second shot really a pass to Dante Cunningham to win the game, as others have speculated?

MG: Actually, when I checked in I said to myself we have nothing to lose, I'm going all out, and thanks to God I was able to have a spectacular performance. And no, the last shot wasn't a pass to Dante, actually I was fouled (smiling) but all joking aside, it was a great followup by Dante.

LGN: Did your mid-season benching have anything to do with injuries, academics, disciplinary reasons, or was it just a decision made by Jay Wright?

MG: My mid-season benching had nothing to do with injuries, academics. Nothing of that nature. It was a decision that Coach Wright made and he felt it was best for the team.

LGN: What was the catalyst that turned the team around, from its mid-winter struggles to its place on the NCAA bubble in March?

MG: I think it was when we had a meeting and everybody admitted their frustrations, and we were asked to sacrifice for the better of the team until the end of the season.

LGN: On Selection Sunday, how sure were you and your teammates that Villanova would make the field of 65? Was it a shock to be selected, or were you confident?

MG: I was confident, as well as others. I think some of the older guys were nervous that we weren't going to make it, but we proved we belonged once we started playing.

LGN: How did it feel to go to the Sweet Sixteen as a freshman? Were you thrilled just to be there, or were you a little disappointed you were not allowed to contribute more on the court, especially considering that without your performance in the LSU game, Villanova would have been in the NIT?

MG: It was a great experience to advance to the Sweet Sixteen as a freshman. I will never forget it. Just seeing that crowd and that arena and the media was crazy. [laughs].

LGN: After the season, you decided to transfer to Miami. Was playing time the only reason you left, or were there other disagreements? Did the coaching staff try to convince you to stay, or was it mutually agreed?

MG: The only reason I transferred was because of playing time, nothing else. I still love Villanova and the team and the coaching staff.

LGN: How do you like Miami so far? Do you think the ACC will be more suited to your run-and-gun style? How do you plan to keep focused as you wait another year to gain eligibility?

MG: I love Miami. It's beautiful down here -- really, really hot, and I have to get used to it, but other than that it's beautiful. I love it. I think the ACC will be a great fit for me. I can't wait to play again and show the world that I'm more than just a scorer. I'm going to work extremely hard, as I'm doing right now, so I'm really excited to get back out there.

LGN: Are you still in touch with any of the players or staff at Villanova? Will you follow the Wildcats' season?

MG: Yes, I still talk to almost everyone, except for a few. But I speak with Antonio a lot. Dwayne a.k.a. Weezy F [laughs], Reggie a.k.a. Double R, Shane, and some others. I still speak with the staff. Congrats to my man BG! [Ed. note: Villanova assistant coach Brett Gunning took a job with the Rockets.] Coach West e-mails me to check on me, and I saw Coach Chambers at an AAU tournament. So yeah, I stay in touch.

LGN: What are you goals for your career at Miami and beyond?

MG: My goals for Miami is to transform this school into a consistent elite team. I want to hopefully win a national championship and God willing, play in the NBA one day.

I just want to say thanks for the interview. I still love 'Nova to death. I will be rooting for you guys. All my friends, I love you guys. All the alumni and my teachers, I love y'all too. Peace!

LGN: Thank you, Malcolm.

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At 2:33 PM, August 25, 2008, Anonymous BigTimeHoopsFan said...

Can't believe LGN had the budget to fly down to Miami and interview Grant. Glad to see he is doing well!!! Go NOOOVA.

At 2:41 PM, August 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great interview.....I'm surprised that you were able find him and that he was willing to do an interview based solely on Villanova despite the fact that he was in his new Miami atmosphere

At 2:56 PM, August 25, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

The interview was conducted long-distance.. I didn't fly down to Miami.

Malcolm was great, though. He agreed to do it very quickly and seemed happy about it. He is a great guy.

At 9:54 PM, August 25, 2008, Blogger greyCat said...

Good stuff Pete. Malcolm will be a player I follow as he finishes out his D1 career at Miami. It was good to hear MG's comments as they echo much of what was reportedly said at the banquet at season's end and relayed via coaching/staff comments in the newspaper. It was a tough situation with the talent in the backcourt last season.

I suspect going forward that situations like this happen more often. Clearly the program is attracting top-drawer talent and each candidate may not find they have the opportunity to showcase what they have.

At 10:04 PM, August 25, 2008, Blogger Pete said...

I still don't get it though...

Look at this year's team. We only have TWO ballhandling guards. Fisher and Reynolds. If one of them gets hurt, the other guy will have to play 40 minutes... or else who will bring up the ball.

Redding is a 2g and Stokes is a 3.

So... I still don't get the playing time thing.

At 7:01 PM, August 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how can be coach be so stupid he should not have his job

At 7:06 PM, August 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

tell scotty he need to go back to steve nash camp he is not a pg sorry coach wright try next year without true point

At 7:11 PM, August 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like coach wright is an idiot! How can u have a player with so much talent not even good playing time! Malcolm is the best player on the team and coach wright need to get his head together!lol leave that crack alone!!!

At 2:44 AM, August 27, 2008, Anonymous mr. x said...

he said that it was a decision coach made that was best for the team.. so we can bury the issue.. cough cough pete.. did you ask him if you could fellate him as well?

At 9:38 PM, August 29, 2008, Anonymous WHOKNOWS! said...

great interview pete, it's great to hear malcolm is happy. i only wish he could've played for nova, it reallly doesn't make sense. Why should their best scorer see no minutes? But there's nothing we can do to change that now.

as for those other anonymouses, way to be a negative nancy..

At 1:52 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Dr. Steele said...

It is amazing that the fan base has never figured it out. Malcolm was essentially shown the door not because of Malcolm and not because of Fisher.

Who were we courting at the time? Who did we need to make backcourt 08 room for at the time Malcolm was placed on the proverbial sacrificial altar?

Hint: He wound up going to Memphis.

At 4:25 PM, November 11, 2008, Anonymous Rich said...

considering the Wayns recruitment, Malcolm would have always played third fiddle. HE didn't really deserve that and I think Coach Wright understood that.


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