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Malachi Smith | Gonzaga Bulldogs Guard

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
March 13, 2023 5:39 am

Malachi Smith | Gonzaga Bulldogs Guard

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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March 13, 2023 5:39 am

Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Malachi Smith joins the show to talk March Madness and Selection Sunday.


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Subscribe to NerdWallet's Smart Money Podcast today. Malachi, what was it like for you to be part of the Gonzaga Watch Party and see Gonzaga's name pop up as a 3 seed? It was exciting. You know, all the work we put in, you know, from the summer and, you know, just throughout the year, all the adversity we've been through. It just kind of felt like a reward, kind of, for all the hard work we put in and we had to earn that 3 seed. You know, it wasn't given to us. We had to earn it.

And, you know, seeing that, we were just super excited. And in the West region, where Kansas is the overall number 1 seed, I know Gonzaga has a great tradition of basketball. But your first year with Mark Few, 23 consecutive tournaments under him, he's one of the staples in college basketball. What's it been like to learn from him this season?

It's been great. Like, my game has grown so much. He's worked with a lot of players who have been successful. And being able to, you know, be coached hard by him and being able to, you know, grow as a player on and off the court has been really a good thing for my game. Where would you say is the biggest growth in your game this season with the Zags?

IQ wise, decision making. You know, at Chattanooga, I had to make a lot of decisions for the team. And, you know, I'd turn the ball over or I wouldn't make the right reads at times. You know, this year, my IQ has, I've learned the game a lot better, you know, seeing the game from a different perspective.

And I think it's helped my game a lot. Sometimes I hear from athletes who change roles like you did, going from being the number 1 guy conference player of the year to being a guy who comes off the bench. And their perspective changes, as you point out, because you watch the game in a different way before you get in there than you did when you're right on the court immediately and you're the number 1 option. What was it like for you to change roles and to come off the bench in a way that you're expected to provide instant spark and certainly defense right away as soon as you get in the game? I mean, it just makes you be ready, you know, at the next level.

That's how it is at the next level. You know, you have to be ready whenever your number's called. And my role started as a throwing that came off the bench, you know, so it's something I'm not used to. And at the end of the day, the main goal is to win. And, you know, I feel like with my game, even though I come off the bench, people that know basketball and know how to watch basketball and know what they're seeing, they see the impact I have. You know, numbers don't always have to speak for it, you know, but my game speaks for itself. And anyone that watches Gonzaga knows that when I come off the bench, like I'm providing something for this team. One of the things that I think of when I watch you play or when I hear your name and know your role is about the experience that you bring because of the different places you played, the different situations that you've been in. How much does that experience matter when you're talking about a team that really wants to win a championship for the first time in school history? It helps a lot, you know, being able to have experiences, people having different experiences that can come together, it makes us ready for any moment, even though I haven't been here. I was in March Madness last year and being able to get that experience, I was able to see the atmosphere and know what it's like leading up to the game and being an underdog and knowing how these teams play. So going into it, I know not to take a team like Grand Canyon for granted because we was once that team last year. You know, I was in that role, so I know what they're thinking over there. They're like, this is the chance for us to make our mark. So it's not going to be easy and it's going to prepare us and we're going to prepare mentally and physically to go out there and keep this thing going.

That's a great point, Malachi. We're talking to Malachi Smith with Gonzaga, the Bulldogs, the three seed in the West, and we'll take on Grand Canyon out of the whack in their first tournament game. As you point out, you were on the other side of this where you were with a Cinderella and your team nearly upset Illinois last year.

It was one of the exciting games of that opening round. So can you share that with your team about being on the other side of that? Yeah, you know, I've talked about it on numerous occasions already, but these teams come in like they had to earn their way. And this is their Super Bowl. This is the way for them to get known and get their school on the map as well. And so like last year when we were coming in playing at Illinois, we didn't care about who they had or how good they were. We just cared about we said, you know, we got to roll the ball out there and compete, you know, and that's what this team is going to do.

So, you know, we have enough guys that have that don't take the moment for granted and we're grateful. But of course, having that experience to able to share that with them, that helps put in perspective, like, you know, this is a big game and, you know, we don't want to take it for granted. What do you remember about the emotions of that day? Like leading up to it, it was just crazy. Like I was like the media coverage was different and everyone like it was a lot of pressure and, you know, getting tagged and everything.

And Malachi is going to lead the team that's Sweet 16 and, you know, the player of the year this and, you know, just a lot of like a lot of talking before the game. And I had to like block all that out and it was a lot and I had to learn how to block out, you know, all the media and all the expectations and just go out there and play and try to have fun. And it was a great experience. You know, obviously, it didn't end the way we wanted to, but I was able to go through that experience. And believe it or not, the way the game ended, it helped my game grow because I realized, you know, I'm going to be back in that moment again. You know, not necessarily that shot, but just that game and I need to prepare myself and all off-season. That's all I've been working towards just getting back to this moment. Great motivation.

Malachi Smith with us from Gonzaga here after hours on CBS Sports Radio. Do you remember if you were nervous? Yeah, I was a little nervous, but I'm not nervous because I wasn't prepared.

You know, I'm never nervous to go out there and play when I put the work in. Just not knowing what to expect. Like, man, are they going to be loud? Is it going to be a close game? Like, you know, do they, you know, they watch film on me?

Like, are they going to double team? You know, just not knowing what was going to happen and just watching it on TV my entire life and knowing that, oh my God, like I'm a part of this and like I'm the main guy. You know, that was that was a cool experience. Awesome.

So then you enter the transfer portal. Why Gonzaga, Malachi? I think today speaks for itself. Just being able to have a chance to play for something big and, you know, obviously get your name out there more and have a platform. Being around a group, a great group of guys and have a chance to play for the national championship. I remember last year I asked one of your teammates how he would describe Drew Timmy, who, of course, is the headliner similar to the way that you were at Chattanooga. How would you describe this guy that you've played alongside and with this season?

I call him a character. You know, he's a great teammate, but he just he he could be multiple different people. He could be funny. He could be serious. He could be a jokester like he's he's he's everything.

You know, he's a great guy. So as you head into a game against a kind of unknown opponent, there's a lot of work that will be done. But for success as a team, what's critical for you all to play well in the tournament? We need to come in with the mentality that we're underdogs, you know, forget what we are. At the end of the day, when we play, it's going to be Grand Canyon versus Gonzaga. So, you know, it doesn't matter when you go out there with a chip on our shoulder. We're the underdog and we've got something to prove, you know, and that's how we're going to go out there and play like with the team. That's that's the underdog.

And again, having been in that position before, you certainly understand it. I've heard stories about the fans that follow your team, about the Gonzaga fans. What's your experience been like with the fan base around Gonzaga?

Oh, it's crazy. Everywhere I go, I go to church and they're there in church. So, you know, I'm excited that they're going to build a, you know, we're somewhat close where they can come to Denver and come support us. And, you know, my family's going to be able to come. So it's going to be a great it's going to be a great time.

Oh, awesome. I'm glad your family's going to be able to be there. It's great to catch up with you. Thank you so much for a couple of minutes. Congratulations on making the tournament again in this role where you're a veteran and can really add something different to the preparation. We appreciate it, Malachi. Congratulations so much.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 06:25:13 / 2023-03-13 06:30:06 / 5

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