A Diamond in The Rough
By Emery Rudolph
In an exclusive interview with The Spectrum, Bulldog's Basketball Guard Matthew LeGare discussed with Spectrum Sports Editor Emery Rudolph his experience with the team, his relationship with Coach D'Alessio and his plans for possibly leaving for another collegiate team.
The Spectrum: You were a high school phenomenon to say the least. When you committed to Bowie State did you anticipate a lack of playing time your freshman season?
LaGare: Well, when I committed to play for Bowie State, Coach Dacquon told me that the first two years would be a learning process and my time would come. From what I understood, after my red-shirt year and freshman year I would get on the floor for at least a couple minutes a game to gain some type of experience.
The Spectrum: As time went onto your sophomore season your minutes did not increase, did you at any point doubt your abilities as a player on the collegiate level?
LaGare: Man it was rough for me. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me or anything because even the best players in the world went through the same type of stuff I did and overcame it. I can remember even back to my red-shirt year, practicing three hours before practice and staying after practice for a couple hours to work on my game. I wanted to quit everyday but something inside me, I don't know what, told me to keep pushing and pushing that maybe one day I will get on that court. Coach Luke told me numerous times that I will never play for Bowie or ever get on the court. I used that as motivation. As time progressed, and I didn't really see any difference with playing time, I started to believe him. I remember thinking, "What's the point even trying? No matter what I do or how hard I practice ain't [expletive] going to change." So I did doubt myself as a player tremendously because I couldn't see the hard work paying off.
The Spectrum: I remember when you were all of 150 pounds in high school. Since then, your work ethic in the weight room and on the court has been incredible. Can you think of any good reason why you were not getting time on the court?
LaGare: I can only think of experience. Cory Stevens and Andrew Engel do have experience over me, but other than that I don't see a big difference. Coach Luke in my opinion favors them over me. With them being at Bowie I could never get on the court. I couldn't really get on-court experience because I was the third string point guard and the only way I could get on the court is if we were up by 50 points and if you came to the games lately that will never happen. If you are a walk-on player you will never see the court. I love them to death but Bowie isn't the place for me.
The Spectrum: If you could compare your player-coach relationship to one in the NBA, what player and coach combination would it be?
LaGare: I don't really watch the NBA like that but our relationship is okay towards one another I guess. It just felt like he wanted me there just to be a practice body and because I had good grades.
The Spectrum: Was your lack in minutes the reason for leaving the team? If not, what in your opinion honestly was?
LaGare: Honestly, minutes and other things made me quit the team. Bowie is a major recruiting school for basketball. Since I've been here, I've just seen first-hand that he just replaces everyone. He already has another guard coming in from UMES. He led the division in scoring so you do the math. With his favorite guards Andrew and Cory coming back next year. They are going to be seniors...and he favors his seniors. Like I said, you do the math, I'll be watching on the sidelines eating popcorn.
The Spectrum: Last season the team went 22-8 (CIAA 13-5). Now in this 2008-09 season they are already 11-10 (CIAA 8-6). Do think your departure from the team has lessened their level of play?
LaGare: You could say I kept everyone laughing at something in practice. I was always the one getting yelled at for EVERYTHING no matter what it was, I was getting yelled at before anyone else. Ever since I left everyone has said practice has never been the same and it just feels dead in practice. I don't know I guess I just had so much of a passion for the game that everybody saw that and could feel it when I played. If I wasn't in any of the drills I was always on the sidelines working on my ball handling, shooting, anything to try and get better. Just like he would put me in the game for 5 seconds I didn't give a [expletive] I just wanted to be on the court. It didn't matter to me. I remember one game I was in with 2.5 seconds. Coach Luke put me in the game and I got the ball, got fouled driving to the lane, and made both free throws. Normally, a person would be mad if they got put in the game with 2.5 seconds and would just hold the ball, but not me. Two seconds is a lot of time. [LoL]
The Spectrum: In your opinion, where do you see this Bowie State basketball program about five years from now?
LaGare: I honestly see the Bowie program with new coaches like the football team and hopefully better. I hope they will become more loyal to their players instead of recruiting all of these one and done players who never been in the system. Then taking all the players who earned their stripes by being there for a couple years.
The Spectrum: What exactly are your basketball plans now that you have you left the Bulldogs squad?
LaGare: Well, I've been lifting and I put about 20 pounds on now. I'm at 180 pounds, but I want to be around 195 pounds and remain quick. I have a couple guys helping me out with a couple schools such as Quinnipiac down in North Carolina, West Virginia Tech, and maybe Coppin State. I really just want to go somewhere where I can play my game how I've been playing it all my life. I guess at Bowie they didn't really like it and I can't blame them. Bowie somehow, someway, has made me a better player than I was.
The Spectrum: Are there any other things that you feel you need to get off your chest or just simple last remarks?
LaGare: I want to thank Bowie State for giving me the opportunity to be on the team and making me who I am today.