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Powell Previews 2013-14
Courtesy: Mark Soltau  
Release: 11/05/2013

STANFORD, Calif.- Senior forward Dwight Powell was selected the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player of the Year last season. He was the only player to earn a spot on both the Pac-12 All-Academic Team and All-Pac-12 First Team.

The 6-10, 240-pound forward from Toronto, Ontario, Canada averaged a team-high 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds. He produced 10 double-doubles, had nine games of 20 or more points, and scored in double figures 27 times, posting a career-high 29 points against Denver.

In July, Powell led Canada to a fourth-place finish at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia. Now, the Senior CLASS Award candidate is poised to lead Stanford back to the NCAA Tournament.

Three days before Stanford's season opener against Bucknell, Powell recently sat down with Mark Soltau of to talk about his game, his team, his head coach, the fans and what the Cardinal hope to accomplish in 2013-14.

- - - - - - - - - - You had a busy summer playing for Team Canada. How did it help you as a player?

Powell: “It was a great experience. We went to China for about two weeks and played against some high-level competition. And that was in preparation to go to the World University games in Russia, which was a phenomenal experience. First and foremost, just practicing with high-level guys from Canada and working with great coaches. You got a chance to get a different perspective on your game and hear pointers, a lot of which were in line with what the coaches here say. It was good to hear that constructive criticism to help you get better."

- - - - - - - - - - Were you trying to improve any specific part of your game?

Powell: “Not particularly. I wasn’t really too sure where they would play me. I ended up being a lot more of a low post scorer, a lot of inside stuff. Going in, I was working on all facets of my game like I do every summer. I kind of went in there just trying to find out where I could help the team the most.”

- - - - - - - - - - You have many upperclassmen returning this year and optimism is high. Talk about the mindset of the team, especially the seniors.

Powell: “We definitely feel that way. It’s our last chance and we want to try and leave our mark and leave a legacy. We’ve gotten a lot out of this program and we want to give back as much as we can. Winning is the best way to do that. Guys are excited, they’re motivated and they’re focused. I feel like the team is closer than ever – on and off the court. We’re just trying to build that camaraderie to an even higher level. One of our main focuses has been paying close attention to detail in all facets of the game in practice and preparation for practice … everything that leads up to the game. We want to take that to an even higher level of intensity during the game as a result of that preparation. We had a lot of close losses last year. Hopefully, we can embrace a closer attention to detail and come out on top, because a lot of times those games come down to one or two possessions with eight minutes left in the second half that may not seem as important as they actually are. In terms of momentum swings, possessions, possession arrows, different guys getting going, diving on that one loose ball instead of bending at the waist, that can be a six-point swing.”

- - - - - - - - - - Media who cover the Pac-12 picked Stanford to finish sixth in the conference. Can that serve as motivation for the team?

Powell: “To be honest, we’re not interested in rankings or looking for motivation. Obviously, it’s put in front of our face, so we’re going to see it. We have a chip on our shoulder for a lot of other reasons. We have motivation that’s a lot stronger and deeper-rooted than the rankings they give us in the pre-season. We have a responsibility to prove where we want to be. I think that’s part of the reason why our senior class is so motivated because we’ve had to learn the hard way that respect isn’t given. We have a lot more fire burning within us that’s pushing us to be where we aspire to be.”

- - - - - - - - - - If you could reach out to the Sixth Man Club and students for more support, what would you say?

Powell: “If I were to speak to them, I would probably say this is what we wake up thinking about every single morning and what we go to bed dreaming about every night. I can’t think of one person on the team or the staff that’s involved with this team that doesn’t dedicate their entire life to this program and to this sport. And if you can relate to that in any way and you can appreciate that, then I think that you would enjoy seeing us express that during the 40 minutes that we get twice-a-week. A lot of blood, a lot of sweat, a lot of tears, a lot of fight, and a lot of sacrifice go into the preparation for these games. I think it’s important for the fans to see that because it’s a different side of us that they may not know, for the guys who see us in class or see us around, to see us fight for what we love and do it representing this school. I think it can bring a lot of people together. It’s going to be fight every game and we’re going to play with passion.”

- - - - - - - - - - Is it too early to tell what kind of personality this team will have on the court?

Powell: “We’re going to take care of the basketball and value every possession on the court. You’ll see a lot more intensity from our side.”

- - - - - - - - - - You could have opted to turn pro and not return for your senior season. What made you stay?

Powell: “The end of last season was disappointing and some of the games that we let slip. The decision for me was that I hadn’t accomplished all of the things I wanted to accomplish. I felt like there was business that needed to be handled here, both on and off the court. It wasn’t a complicated process. I just made the decision and that was it. We have a lot of goals set and a lot of things that we need to get done as seniors and a team. And I want to finish my degree in science, technology and society.”

- - - - - - - - - - You are a fiery player, but have sometimes struggled with foul trouble. Is that an area you worked on?

Powell: “Yea, definitely. A lot of that comes down to positioning. If I’m in the right position a half-step earlier than I was last year, I can take myself out of lot of those situations where I don’t commit cheap fouls.”

- - - - - - - - - - What is it like playing for Johnny Dawkins?

Powell: “It’s great. You can hear the passion in his voice every day. He really cares about how we do individually and how we do as a team. I think that helps push a lot of guys to be better, especially knowing that he’s been there and done it. Obviously, he was a great, great college player. But he’ll be the first to admit that he’s had times when he’s been down and times we has not played to the best of his ability. He knows what it’s like to be a collegiate athlete at a great institution, so he can relate with a lot of things that we’re going through. He’s very good at communicating what we need to get done.”

- - - - - - - - - - What does this team need to accomplish to make it a successful season?

Powell: “Our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament. If we don’t, that would be an utter disappointment for us. As far as pressure is concerned, I hope there is pressure on everyone. Pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think pressure can produce some amazing things. Setting lofty goals and understanding you don’t have 10 years to get it done can bring a lot out in people.”



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