Clipboard Conversations: Joey Rodriguez, VCU

28 Apr

VCU's Joey Rodriguez says the NCAA tournament opened up doors he never thought would open.

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

Joey Rodriguez was one of the faces of the Virginia Commonwealth team that made it to the Final Four this season. I caught up with the senior to talk about the run, his future plans, going back home to Florida and we dive into some quick hitting questions that you don’t want to miss.

NATIONAL HOOPS REPORT: What’s it like to be a rock star? You are hanging out with the governor. You are going to hang out with the president on May 5. What’s this life like?

JOEY RODRIGUEZ: “It’s crazy. It’s different. It’s definitely different but its fun. A lot of the hard work that I’ve been going through is paying off. I’ve taken the back seat to a lot of people and its been fun. To end you college career in the Final Four is a dream. Its been great.

NHR: The magic still hasn’t worn off though. Basketball has provided you with an opportunity to do a lot of cool things that a lot of people can’t experience. Have you had a chance to pinch yourself and realize that this is all happening?

JR: When you are going through it all, you aren’t really thinking about it. You don’t really realize it when you are in the tournament. Two weeks after it, around now, you realize it all. You kind of go back and look at the YouTube videos and hear comments from people around the city you realize that it touched a lot of people. You don’t realize that when you are going through it all. Now I realize that. Its been great.

NHR: I would imagine now that you guys are going through all of the ripple effect stuff, going on these tours and what not, only strengthens your relationship as a team and as friends. What is this experience doing for your relationships with your teammates?

JR: This does bring you closer. You know we had two NBA guys here before (we went to the Final Four) and a lot of the attention was on them. This year it has been just about us as a whole group, especially the senior class. We know we are going to be in each other’s lives forever now. So that’s great.

NHR: Explain the whole dynamic of your team during that run. What was it like in the locker room? Did you guys have to put the blinders on to life and just focus on the task at hand?

JR: It was almost like normal, to tell you the truth. Against USC, we got a lot of stops on defense and we made a lot of shots. Once we get that win, we knew had confidence because USC is a good team. To tell you the truth, we made a lot of shots. The whole tournament we made a lot of shots. The whole year we had a lot of guys that had injuries and stuff so every time we stepped on the court, we knew we were going to have a chance to win. When you tell that to people, they don’t really believe you but it’s the truth. We knew we were going to win every time out, even against Kansas, Florida State, everybody. We thought we were the better team.

NHR: Tell me your plans now, Joey. Close to graduating?

JR: Yeah, we have three weeks left of school. I will graduate with a criminal justice major. I’m definitely happy about that. Right now hopefully I can play in Europe. I just hired an agent, Andrew Vye with ASM Sports. Its pretty cool doing all of that stuff. If it wasn’t for the tournament, I don’t know how much all of this stuff is happening. Those three weeks kind of changed everything.

NHR: Were you surprised that Shaka Smart stayed at VCU? He had a lot of people come knocking on his door after the tournament.

JR: I really wasn’t. I didn’t want to say anything during the run but I knew he was going to stay. We have good players behind us seniors and good players coming in. These are some talented guys. People will see it next year why he stayed because they are a good group. He spends a lot of time with this team. He’s totally different than most college coaches. He really does a good job working with us.

NHR: We saw Shaka running these intensity drills ruing your run on television. Have you ever busted him with a hard shoulder or got him in the face on accident?

JR: No, never busted him in the face but I have run over him a couple of times (laughing). If you ever talk to him, be sure to ask him about that.

NHR: What about (assistant coach) Mike Jones. You ever run him over?

JR: Mike Jones is the man. We always bust him on being older than everybody. We were at the governor’s mansion today and it’s the oldest one in the country. So, we were busting on coach Jones and asked if he worked on the building 200 years ago.

NHR: You, Chandler Parsons and Nick Calathes all went to high school together. Please tell me you’ve already busted their chops about being in the Final Four in college and neither of those guys did.

JR: Oh you know I did. I actually went to Orlando a week after we went to the Final Four and we were in downtown Orlando and a lot of fans came up to us. Chandler probably thought they were going to come and talk to him but they were like ‘Joey Rodriguez from VCU?!? What an awesome run!’ We were in Florida and that’s Chandler’s stomping grounds so that was pretty funny. It was fun going back. I talk to Nicky every week and he was watching all of the games. Its been great for us three.

NHR: I’m asking every person I talk to on the Clipboard Conversation this question, so if you can, entertain me with this. What does it mean to you to be a competitive player? What does it take to be a competitive player?

JR: I think it means just not worrying about who you are going against. It means coming at them every play, every possession and not worrying about who it is. Just do what you do. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they have done. When I think about being a competitor, that’s what I think about.

NHR: Quick hitter time. I throw out some quick questions, you throw back a quick answer.
NHR: Toughest PG you’ve played across?

JR: Derrick Rose. (Answers quickly).

NHR: Toughest place to play on the road?
JR: Wichita State. Tough place. They were loud. Place is crazy.

NHR: Favorite road trip in league play?
JR: Old Dominion. Everybody hates you at that place and it’s loud. If you beat them, it’s great. It’s almost like winning the CAA tournament.

NHR: What’s the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you that I can print?
JR: Oh man. I’ve heard some crazy stuff. An ODU threw a chalupa at me one time.

NHR: Who do you have in the NBA Finals?
JR: Now that my Knicks are done, OKC. And they will play the Miami Heat.

One Response to “Clipboard Conversations: Joey Rodriguez, VCU”

  1. frojunk April 29, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    For the record, I’ve been a LONG time VCU fan & have seen many excellent players come and go through the years. I hate to admit it, but I sometimes have trouble remembering the overall contributions some of these Rams made after all this time. But that won’t be the case with Joey R. I honestly could see something special in this guy pretty much from the start – and that says a lot given who he played behind / with during his early years, especially. How nice to see him get a chance to shine on the court – and even better to see how special a young man he is off the court! He is truly a credit to his family and a wonderful representative for VCU Basketball – and the University as a whole. Best of luck to Joey & the rest of the senior players. None of you will be forgotten, that’s for sure!

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