Q&A: Junior forward has shown extra edge, willingness this season
Danrad “Chicken” Knowles, of the UH men’s basketball team, is a laid back guy, but don’t let his demeanor fool you.
At times, he’s labeled as a calm player, but for Knowles, it’s just his real-life demeanor that sometimes translates to the court. Rather than coming out and dominating against his opponents, Knowles prefers to remain relaxed and let the game come to him.
Last season, Knowles started all 30 games at center, but has transitioned to playing mostly power forward this season.
In a December game against Louisiana State University, however, Kelvin Sampson made the decision to start Knowles at center, and he put on a show, as he was one rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds in their win.
The Cougar recently had a chance to sit down with Knowles to talk about his play of recent and how he’s adjusting to his new role on the team this season.
The Cougar: How did it feel when Sampson named you starting center against LSU?
Danrad Knowles: To be honest, I didn’t know how to feel about it. I just wanted to win…but that game was actually a personal one. I’d always wanted to go there, and they never recruited me, so it was a little personal.
TC: That game showed that the competitive and dominating Chicken Knowles is in you. Do you think that you hold back at times?
DK: Sometimes less is better. Some guys try to over-do it, and they actually do more damage than good, whereas I just try to stay in the system and do whatever is asked of me and not try to over-do it or over think anything. I never want to force anything.
TC: At the preseason press conference, Sampson said to the media “Chicken has to get better.” Did that light a fire up under you?
DK: He says that all the time and says that I have to be more confident and believe in myself a lot more, and he’s right. He told me that throughout the entire LSU game, to believe in myself, so I just came out swinging.
TC: He has also, at times, called you soft. Does it affect you when he calls you soft, and do you try to change his opinion?
DK: He says a lot of stuff. I get mad, but I think he does it on purpose because it brings out a different side of me. He says I’m like a different player when I’m mad…It works because some of the things he says make my entire mood change.
TC: I know that you want to play overseas once your career here is done. Are you looking to pick it up even more and become more of a stand-out player?
DK: I just do whatever coach asks—the little things. Offensive charges, rebounding, blocking shots and playing defense. If he wants to come to me offensively, I’m going to give him what I have. That’s what he did in the game against Southern Methodist University. He came to me and said ‘do something, make something happen’. And that’s what I gave him.
TC: Last season, around this exact same time, you were looked at to be the team’s go-to guy, and now that conference play has picked up, he’s asking for that again. Is it flattering?
DK: It says a lot, but last year was a different team. We have a lot more offensive talent and weapons this year, and that’s why I don’t try to do too much offensively.
I try to just feed off of everyone else instead of going and getting it on my own. If someone drives, I relocate, and they pass me the ball, and I finish around the rim. That’s really what I’ve been trying to do all year.
TC: Last year, you started all games playing at the center position, and now you’re doing a little bit of both—the power-forward and the center. Which are you most comfortable with?
DK: To be honest, it’s really the same. Both positions are strong, all the guys are about 40 pounds bigger than me and probably have two inches on me, but that doesn’t matter, because you still have to fight with everyone.
TC: What do you think you still need to work on?
DK: Defensive rebounding is probably my biggest problem (as well as) locating the ball. I’m pretty good at offensive rebounding.
TC: So the plan in this next stretch of conference matchups is for you to come out and play angry?
DK: I have to now, or coach is going to really get after me. He knows what I can do, so I have to be more consistent with my effort. These next few conference games are important, so I have no room to be calm and quiet. I have to be intense.