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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Q & A with Chase Budinger

Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Former Arizona men’s basketball forward Chase Budinger has begun his second season playing for the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Through three games, Budinger is averaging nine points and three rebounds per game. The former Lute Olson recruit talked with the Arizona Daily Wildcat about playing in Houston, Texas, his offseason and his style of play.


Daily Wildcat: I know you’re a few games through the season, but how’s it going and what are you guys looking to accomplish this year?


Chase Budinger: We have a lot of high hopes this year. Our goal is definitely to make a deep run in the playoffs. We feel we’re a very good team … we feel we’re a very deep team.


DW: For you personally, entering your second year, what’s the mentality like for you and how different is it from last year?


CB: It’s a lot different. Coming into my rookie year, you don’t really know what to expect at all. This year, I’m going into the season knowing what to expect. In the offseason, you’re able to train on your weaknesses and you can train to prepare yourself for that upcoming season. And just coming into this year, I just feel more confident than I did last year, because I know what to expect and know how long the season’s going to be. There’s going to be ups and downs, and the biggest thing is you’ve always got to stay confident.


DW: What were you doing in the offseason? Were you training, were you resting?


CB: I was training a lot. I was mostly here in Houston, and I was also back home in San Diego training as well. My biggest thing was trying to add some strength. I felt I kind of got bullied a couple times last year. That was my main emphasis coming into this year, was not to get bullied, especially in the post. I feel I’ve done a pretty good job of that in practice and in the games so far. That’s helped already.


DW: Were you training with (Budinger’s trainer) Trent Suzuki?


CB: Yeah, when I was in San Diego, I was training with him.


DW: What type of stuff were you doing with him?


CB: With him, I just continued the Rockets training structure that I had. I wasn’t home for very long. It was only about three weeks. So I had a program with the Rockets I was doing, so I just did the same program with Trent (Suzuki), and he modified some things, but pretty much stuck with that program.


DW: As far as your role in the team this year, obviously you’re a guy who’s made his living moving off the ball really well, catching and shooting. Can you talk about how you developed that part of your game?


CB: How that developed — good question. I just feel like I’ve always been good at that. I’ve always been good at playing off the ball and finding gaps to get in. Coming off of screens, I feel like I’ve always been good at that. Once I got into the NBA, it got kind of easier because you’ve got guys like (Rockets guards) Aaron Brooks, and Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin who are able to draw a lot of attention.


DW: So there wasn’t any one player that you looked at?


CB: No, there wasn’t any one person that I tried to modify my game after. It kind of just happened like that.


DW: Yao Ming is back from a foot injury. How does that change things for you and your other teammates who are playing with him?


CB: It really hasn’t changed too much. I wasn’t able to play with him last year, so all I heard last year was, “”Oh, it’s so great to play with Yao, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.”” So this year … it’s great playing with him, because he draws so much attention. He draws double teams which lead to wide open jumpers. And he’s such a good passer as well, so when you pass to him, if you’re able to cut and find an opening, he’s going to find you. It’s just been a pleasure playing with him, and he’s just such a great player (laughs).


DW: How’s it been settling in Houston?


CB: I love Houston. Houston’s been a great city. It’s warm, I like that part. Right now, I’m living in an apartment, same one as last year. It kind of just grew on me. I have it all furnished and everything. I just like it down here. It’s very southern, the people are really nice and it’s a great city. One of the best things is they support their sports down here and they love the Rockets.


DW: Speaking of Houston, have you talked to (Houston native and former Wildcat) Nic Wise lately?


CB: I talk to him here and there. Time zones are completely different over there so sometimes we’ll kind of cross-match on Facebook, and I’ll be able to talk to him and stuff. I’ve just been hearing good things about him. He’s doing really well over there. I think he’s averaging 18 points over there. He’s been playing really well, and I’m happy for him.


DW: I have to ask you, with all this talk on Miami, what are your thoughts on the big three and that whole situation?


CB: Well, they’re going to be a good team. Having three guys like that on one team, yes, it does spark a lot of interest with the media and everything like that. They’re going to be a very good team and a tough team to beat. As far as my standpoint and the team’s standpoint, they’re still another team and we need to focus on ourselves.

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