UR Men’s Basketball is currently 7–0, most recently posting wins over Nazareth College and St. John Fisher College. Last weekend, the ‘Jackets defeated Elmira in the championship game of the Lexington Rochester Airport Hotel Invitational. Senior forward Zack Ayers was named tournament MVP, scoring a career-high 21 points against Elmira, and has proven to be key in the team’s overall success this season.
What worked well for the team last weekend at the Lexington Hotel Tourney?
We have started to click more offensively which has really sparked some big wins. Our defense has also become a point of pride for us. We know that in order to win, we are going to have to hold teams to low field goal percentages and trust each other on the defensive end, and that’s what led to our wins this past weekend.
What do you love about basketball?
Everything. Not just the game itself, but the people that I’ve met and friendships I have made through the years are irreplaceable, and I owe that all to basketball.
What motivates you?
Hanging a banner on the wall, hopefully one that says national champions. I think that this year we have a shot to be a contender deep into the NCAA tournament, and, as a team, we are aware of this and work hard to make it a reality every day.
How do your teammates support you?
I am very close with my teammates this year. It is a really great group of guys who are all extremely supportive. Our philosophy this year, as in the past, is that each shot we take as an individual should be the best shot for our collective team. When we all trust in this philosophy it leads to some really great open looks for all of us and this past weekend I just happened to be on the receiving end of a lot of my teammates unselfishness. They trust me to take the right shots for us just as I trust them to do the same.
How does your coach help the team succeed?
He makes sure we are prepared for each and every possibility that a team could throw at us. We do extensive scouting and preparation for each team we play, and our coaches do a great job learning the nuances of our competitors. The coaching staff is also really good at making us better players as individuals and as a collective unit.
How have you grown as a player over the past four years?
I’ve gained a lot of experience. I think that my experience in games and just being a college student athlete in general have led to a lot of my growth. Being a member of such a strong unit for the past four years has groomed me well to become a leader and someone who knows how to win tough games.
What is your role on the team this season, and how has that changed since you began playing for UR?
This year my role is as a leader more than ever in the past. I’ve earned the right to lead my teammates after years of hard work in this program. I think that I’ve also become a bigger part of this team on the court as my skill has increased each year as well. I’ve got some great players around me, so I don’t feel much pressure at all knowing I have some extremely talented guys always there to pick me up.
What have you learned about yourself as an athlete during your time playing for Rochester?
That I can handle a busy schedule. I’ve learned to multitask and plan my time efficiently due to the challenges of being a student athlete.
What do you hope to accomplish, both individually and as a team, this season?
Individually, I just want to play as hard for my teammates as possible. As a team, I hope that we reach our full potential, and I believe that could result in a national championship.
If you had to listen to one song on repeat for 10 hours, what would it be?
J. Cole, “No Role Modelz.”