Q&A with Jeremiah Rivers

Jeremiah RiversApparently reporters will have the chance to speak to a few Indiana basketball players each week leading up the Midnight Madness on Oct. 17.

Today we chatted with transfers Jeremiah Rivers (from Georgetown) and Devan Dumes (from Vincennes). They’re the two most experienced newcomers on the team, Rivers having played two years for the Hoyas and Dumes having started his career at Eastern Michigan.

Here’s what Rivers had to say.

When did you get to campus?

About two weeks ago. Came in early, get familiar with Indiana.

Has the team met yet? What have you been up to?

Yesterday was the first day of official workouts. Outisde of that we were just doing what we want on our own. Working out with (strength and conditioning) Coach (Jeff) Wat (Watkinson) if we want, getting shots up and running and conditioning. Just getting ready and getting better.

What was the first day of workouts like?

Bunch of drills. Drills after drills. It was real hard, real fun. Getting the players, the skills right.

Were you out there together?

No, we split it up in different sections. Big men with big men, guards with guards, small forwards with small forwards. It was a good mix up.

What was it like trying to get to know all the new players?

It was great, man. We’re all trying to feel each other out, trying to get ready, trying to understand how we’re going to work together, what’s going to work what’s not going to work. It’s been a good experience so far. It’s been fun.

You have to redshirt. How do you approach sitting out the year?

I gotta approach that as positively as I can. That’s the only way you can approach it. For me it’s just working on my game. Knowing that every day I gotta get better. For me there’s no set backs. Nothing. Everything is moving forward and getting ready to be mentally prepared next year and lead the team to more wins.

Is it difficult to be patient?

I do wish I could be out there. More than anything. I’ve been playing forever. This summer was good for me to be with my family and be with my dad (Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers) a lot. Work on my game a lot in Boston and Orlando.

Do you take on a leadership role with this team because of your experience?

Yeah I do. I’ve been to a lot of places and won. On the road. At home. Had success winning. Averaging 15-20-25 minutes at certain times during the season. Been in the Final Four. So I think in some ways I know what it takes to win. In some ways I have a lot to learn, obviously. Coach Crean is going to help me with that and the team with that.

Did you talk to anybody about what it’s like to play at Indiana?

Honestly, I didn’t really know too much about Indiana. Like I’ve said before, I’m still learning and I don’t know too much about college basketball. I have great respect for Indiana and the tradition and the winning history. Every now and then you see a little interview or commentary on TV with Bob Knight or Isiah and how positively they talk about Indiana and their experience there.

Can you talk about your decision to come to Indiana?

My decision came around the end of May or early June. Really it came between Indiana, Memphis, Ga. Tech and UCF. Those were the four schools I really looked at. I know Memphis has an upbeat style, plays fast-paced, which is pretty much how I’ve been playing all my life. Coach Crean, ultimately at the end of the day, lured me here.

Has coach Crean changed since you first met him?

I don’t think he’s too much different. He’s always been an intense guy. A guy who wants to win. A guy who wants to improve his players. Even when I was little he was like that, letting me go out there to play with the guys or throwing me through a few camps and drills. He was always about basketball and about doing basketball right and pretty much living life right.

When did you first meet him?

I was probably about 7th grade. He came and saw me in the eighth grade because he was with my dad (who played at Marquette, where Crean was coaching) just hanging out and playing golf and having fun and just happened to see one of my games. I played open gym a few times with Dwyane Wade and got to know him a little bit. And Travis Diener. Me and Diener are real cool. M and Wade are a lil cool as well.

What was it like the night the Celtics won the NBA title?

I know for my dad, he was just speechless. It was speechless for me too. Me and my dad went grocery shopping at 4 a.m. because we just didn’t know what to do with ourselves. He was like, ‘You want to go to the grocery story?’ and I was like, ‘Sure, man.’ It didn’t really sink in. It’s just something that every player should strive for, just winning, man. There’s nothing better than that. There’s no other reason to play if you aren’t going to try to win the game. To win a championship, that feeling — I only felt part of it because I wasn’t on the team and I was just one of the family members — I could just see in the players eyes that it meant everything to them.

You literally went shopping at 4 a.m.?

Yeah. Actually, nobody even left the gym until 1:30, 2. So by the time we got home it was 2, 2:30. We were just watching ESPN highlights the whole time. When four in the morning hit, me and my dad were just starving. So he was like, ‘Man, I want some Hot Pockets and stuff,’ and I was like “Man, let’s get some ice cream.” And he was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do that.’ We just went to the Shaw’s across the street on Newbury and grubbed for about an hour, hit the bed for about three hours, woke up around 8 and celebrated the rest of the day.

Did the people in the grocery store go crazy when you came in?

I’m sure just like here, basketball is a heavy tradition and it hadn’t been restored in Boston for a while and (looks to the banners behind him to check) it’s been a while here, as well. When they did win, no matter where you turned, no matter where you go, everybody is supporting you. Everybody wants a piece of you in a positive, good way. So we went in the grocery store and the whole grocery store just shut down. Everybody was clapping. I just kind of stood back and let my dad enjoy it.

Does your dad treat you more like a father or does he coach you a lot?
He does both. He does a good job of playing both sides of that. Obviously, he knows he needs to give me my space but usually I go to him and say, ‘Let’s work today.’ And it’s usually every day, to be honest with you. I guess sometimes he’ll be teaching me and I’ll get a little frustrated with him and he’ll know to push me or to back off. He’s a pro coach. He knows what buttons to hit and what buttons not to hit.

Have you seen anything from this team that would show it will exceed expectations?

I think it’s having an understanding of how hard it is to win, how hard it is to improve but knowing that it’s good, and knowing that you have to do it. Going through all this hard work, going through what coach Crean is putting us through and will be putting us through is going to ultimately pay off. The players are probably further along than everyone thinks but I think right now getting that experience and maturing as a team is ultimately what we’re going to need to help us prevail in some games. I think that’s going to be a big key for us.

What helped you choose Indiana?

Funny thing about that is that (Celtics guard) Sam Cassell was just begging me to go to Memphis. I don’t know why. I guess him and (Memphis coach John) Calipari are cool. He was like “Gotta go to Memphis. Gotta go to Memphis,” and I was like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know a lot about Memphis.’ Part of me wanted to stay in the South because I’ve been raised there my whole life. Ultimately, I would say I had a better relationship with Crean and I knew that the winning tradition Indiana had and the passion Indiana has, I felt that would be real exciting and something I want to be a part of.

How do you approach a team that is full of new players?

You just gotta approach it as positively as you can. Just approach it one day at a time. Approach it like you want to improve for yourself and the team has to improve. Because, you know, everybody has to get familiar with each other on the court and off the court and establish a good friendship with each player. So I think that’s how I approach it, being able to have fun with your team and your coaches and being in a position where everybody is familiar with one another.