Dec. 15, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma guard Steven Pledger is off to an incredibly strong start in his junior season and is a big reason why Lon Kruger's Sooners are 7-1 heading into Saturday's All-College Classic game against Houston.
Pledger leads OU with his 17.9 scoring average and ranks second in the country among guards in field goal percentage with his sizzling .577 mark. He also ranks fourth in the Big 12 Conference in 3-point field goal percentage (.472), sixth in 3-pointers per game (2.4) and eighth in steals per outing (1.6).
From Chesapeake, Va., Pledger is scoring almost twice as many points per minute this season than last, and already has three games of at least 20 points (the same number he had all of last season). SoonerSports.com caught up with him after practice on Thursday to ask him about his hot start to the year, as well as about several other topics.
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Q: Percentage wise, you're one of the best shooting guards in the country. To what do you attribute your success this year?
A: "I think it comes from just putting up a lot of shots on off days. This past summer I put up a lot of shots. Even when I went home I still continued to get a lot of shots up so I could stay consistent. I would put up about 500 shots a day and I still have to do that so I can keep that consistency."
Q: What do you think is the biggest difference in your game from last year to this year?
A: "Being patient. Being patient is something that I have learned to do. Also, I do whatever I have to do to get open and knock down shots. I really work around my teammates to get open and catch defenders not paying attention. Doing things like that and being patient are what have really helped me get good looks."
Q: What are the keys to being a great 3-point shooter?
A: "Again, I think patience is something that you have to have. You can't just go out and shoot 3's all of the time. You have got to be able to start by getting your shots off some other ways, like getting to the free throw line or getting layups and stuff like that."
Q: Why did you choose No. 2 for your uniform number?
A: "I used to wear No. 11 in high school just because it was my number ever since I was little. But, right now there are two main people, or girls, in my life: my mother and my little sister. So the No. 2 represents the two of them."
Q: How has the transition to a new coaching staff been for you personally?
A: "At first it was a little tough and I was a little resistant, but now it is definitely coming along. I really like getting up and down (the floor) quickly, and (I like) how we play hard on defense. Our defense spurs our offense so we can get up and down the court and score fast. I love playing like that."
Q: Who were your sports idols growing up?
A: "Ray Allen was definitely one of my sports idols growing up because he was a big shooter, too. He comes off screens and does what he has to do to get open. He is one of the best shooters ever. I most definitely try to mirror my game off of his. I also try to learn about patience from Joe Johnson and from Carmelo Anthony a little bit, too."
Q: What is your favorite basketball memory here at OU?
A: "When we played at Iowa State last year, that was just a really big win for us and I definitely just felt it that night. It was really just one of those games where you just feel it and can go out there and play hard."
Q: Do you have any game day superstitions?
A: "I keep the same regimen every game day. We come in and go through our shootaround like usual, but I do not eat (the team's) pre-game meal afterward. I go home and just go to sleep and don't eat at all before games."
Q: How do you like practices being open to fans?
A: "It's really cool to see different people who are interested in seeing what we are doing and how successful we are. It's just really cool and fun to have fans there and support us during the week."
Q: Who are the guys on the team you hang out with the most and how would you describe your relationship with them?
A: "I hang out with Sam Grooms and Andrew Fitzgerald the most, definitely. They are wild. Everything with them is just funny and every moment is a good time. Fitz is more laidback funny and Sam is just wild funny. We really just watch TV, movies or play video games and do the most random stuff. Whatever comes to mind, we just do it."
Q: There seems to be a nice buzz about Wyoming transfer Amath M'Baye. What can OU fans expect from him next year?
A: "He is a workhorse. He is a guy who is going to work every moment in the game. And what's great about him is he does the little stuff, too. He is not just there to jump and shoot a little bit, but he works hard to do all of the little things right."
Q: If your mom walked through your apartment door tonight and offered to cook you anything for dinner, what would you choose?
A: "I love anything with chicken and I haven't had that in a while. Chicken and mashed potatoes and some southern food would be what I would choose."
Q: What do you miss most about Virginia?
A: "I really miss my closest friends. I have about 10 close friends back home and I miss all of them. Everyone is doing their own thing now. I don't get to see them that often because I rarely get to go home. We just keep in touch over Twitter and Facebook."
Q: If you could play a pro sport besides basketball, for what team would you want to play?
A: "Right now it's looking like baseball because baseball has a lot of money in it. I would probably want to play for the Phillies because they are one of my favorite teams. Ryan Howard is one of my favorite players, but I like the Yankees too."