SportsRoutes Exclusive Interviews: Middle Tennessee State Basketball

Before the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, SportsRoutes was able to land an exclusive interview with Middle Tennessee State’s Director of Operations Jarrod Lazarus.


Spencer Steinfeld: “Not being a big named school, you don’t land the talent that schools like Kansas,Kentucky, and Duke do. How do you view players during the recruiting process?”


Jarrod Lazarus: “ You know, being in 2017, recruiting has changed a lot where there are a talented player. We got very fortunate with three players that can pretty much play anywhere. Reggie Upshaw, Giddy Potts, and Quvaius Copeland are three major players that can play anywhere. So it’s definitely the guys play with a chip on their shoulder. Tyrik Dixon, our starting point guard, wasn’t recruited by Arkansas and different high level schools, but he comes here and leads our team as a freshman and he’s starting in full. So you know the guys have a chip on their shoulder and compete a little harder.”


S.S : “What does playing in this tournament mean to the mentality of your team?”


J.L. : “ Well everyone still has a bad taste in their mouth losing to Syracuse. (beating) Michigan State was great they got the experience, but now this team wants to go deeper. So now it’s first round Minnesota, it’s a 5-12 these guys are locked in and ready to roll.”


S.S : “What are you going to tell your players before the game to get them motivated?”


J.L. : “ Do what we do. I mean, it’s just a matter of playing the way we’ve played all year long offensively, defensively, listening to coach, the schemes that we do, putting the scout right into the game nothing’s gonna change for us just doing what these guys have been doing all year.”


S.S. : “After winning the USA Conference, how do you feel it’s gonna start the momentum for the NCAA tournament?”


J.L. : “Whenever you win a tournament where you play multiple games in a short period of time it’s definitely a grind on everyone  and for these guys to fight through and win it back-to-back years they’re ready. We get a couple days off, great preparation, and get ready to roll for Thursday.”


S.S. : “ What drew you to Middle Tennessee?”


J.L. : “ My biggest thing was winning loyalty to my Head Coach Kermit Davis who is a fantastic X and O. He is one of the best in the country and I was fortunate enough to work with Leonard Hamilton at Florida State. There is no doubt in my mind that Kemir Davis is one of the best Coaches in the Country.”


S.S. : “ After pulling off a massive upset over Michigan State in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, did you see this as a coming out party for your team or did you see this as a Middle Tennessee program that will win in the future and as a sign of things to come?”


J.L. : “ You know people called me crazy a week before when we got selected. Preparation was great for Michigan State you know everyone else thought it would be a blowout and Michigan State would win the whole thing, but our guys were locked in and a 15 to 2 lead to straight the game off and how we played. The brand that we have is special, we’re a Butler, 5-6 years ago, the VCU’s of the world, so there’s no doubt we’re trending in the right direction and we are one of the top Mid-Majors and there’s no doubt we will continue to tread in the right direction.”

Update: 12 Middle Tennessee State defeated 5 Minnesota 81-72 in the Round of 64. Advance to Round of 32 for the second year in a row!

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