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Jalen Slawson | Furman University Forward

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March 14, 2023 6:11 am

Jalen Slawson | Furman University Forward

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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March 14, 2023 6:11 am

Forward for the Furman University Paladins Jalen Slawson joins the show to talk about making the school's first March Madness tournament since 1980!

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Amy Lawrence

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Subscribe now on the Odyssey app or wherever you get your podcasts. Now they are dancing for the first time since 1980, which is amazing. Jalen, I saw the video of your selection show party, the incredible crowd, the electricity inside the gym. It was cool for me to see, but you were there.

What was it like to see Furman Paladin's basketball pop up on the screen on TV? Man, it was definitely a surreal feeling, you know, five years ago when I committed here. This was, I don't want to say a dream that Coach Ritchie proposed to me, but it was definitely a goal to work towards that Coach Ritchie proposed to me. You know, when we won the Southern Conference Championship, we were all looking at each other like, God, we just won the Southern Conference Championship, but it wasn't really until last night that it really set in like, okay, like we're going dancing. We took Tuesday and Wednesday off after the championship on Monday. We played, we practiced light on Thursday and we were in pretty hard Friday and Saturday.

And then we enjoyed Sunday. But even through the practices, I still didn't feel like, wow, we're really in the big dance. It seemed like it was a pretty large group of fans behind you. What did it sound like? Do you remember the noise? Man, it sounded like we were in the middle of a conference game, honestly.

It was really loud in there. Our administration did a great job with, you know, promoting the event and our fans did a great job showing up. And, you know, they've been loud and supportive of us all season. You know, we believe we have the best home court advantage in the SoCon. Sunday was just an example of that.

Awesome. For people who don't know, you all had quite a disappointment that led to a 12 months of building toward this. So a year ago, you all lose on a buzzer beater in your conference championship. It's obviously devastating to have it come to an end like that in that fashion, but also Coach Ritchie talking about how it's going to be 12 months of us working toward a goal and not forgetting about this. And then I heard him say, we've talked about it for 12 months.

Is that true, Jalen? Have you all talked about what happened a year ago for 12 months? Honestly, like, no matter where we went, we couldn't get away from it. So it wasn't as much, you know, we talked about it. You know, we talked about we talked about it for a day after obviously on the next morning, and then we talked about it when the season started. Our first official practice, we went back and we watched the last five minutes and we looked at all the mistakes that we made to ultimately give Chattanooga a chance to win the game when we could have pushed the lead out to make it a multiple possession game. But so, you know, after that point, Coach Ritchie said we were burying that and it was either going to be a stepping stone or stumbling block.

And, you know, we use the motivation to work, but it was kind of like an unspoken rule almost that we just didn't talk about it. But, you know, anywhere, anywhere we went, you know, you go anywhere with a permanent basketball shirt on. Everybody's like, wait, didn't that shot going against you guys last year? Wasn't it, y'all, where they hit that shot? I mean, last year, right after the tournament, it was spring break, a couple of me and my teammates decided we were going to go to Charlotte just to get out of Greenville and just spend the day in Charlotte and hang out. And we went to a mall, and as soon as we got in the mall, I made the mistake of wearing a permanent basketball t-shirt. And the first person that I saw said, wait, I saw the shot that went in against y'all. And that's just for example, but like there's a couple guys on the team that have tally marks and how many times they've been asked about, you know, the shot or somebody said something about the shot and then a couple of them have like over 100 tallies.

So, whoa. Yeah, so no matter where we go, we couldn't really get away from it, but you know, hopefully now we gave everybody something new to talk about and hopefully, you know, we believe our story's not done. We think we have more to do, but you know, definitely have had to hear about it.

I would say that's the best way to say it. We've had to hear about it for the past 12 months. Well, it does teach you humility, does it not, when you're constantly reminded of how you came up short.

And so as you point out, you've used it as motivation. The moment in which you win the Southern Conference Championship a few days ago, what were the emotions after 12 months of having to hear about it? You know, me and Mike Boswell and even Coach Ritchie, obviously everybody knows how great of a coach he is and, you know, what he's done here at Furman. But you know, me and Mike had a lot to think about last year. You know, obviously we both put our names in the draft.

We both had workouts for different teams and whatnot. And then we had to make a decision whether we were going to come back or not, which is a very unpopular opinion for two first team All-Conference guys to come back to a mid-major school for a fifth year. And you know, we all just, we all decided we were going to come back and we were going to do it. We were going to do it right this year. And this is how our story was going to end.

You know, we were going to go out as Southern Conference champions, not as second-place guys. And you know, obviously you had those conditioning days and the early mornings and the long practices and the nagging injuries that you have throughout the season. When that horn finally went off, it was like, okay, it was all worth it. It all paid off.

It all came full circle. I understand why God put us through all that last year to make us better for this year. Because ultimately this team just doesn't quit. We've caught our way back into so many games. People I thought we had done, you know, had no chance of winning and we always fought back and fought back time after time again. You know, we're probably not that resilient if we don't go through what we went through last year. So we're definitely, definitely thankful for that. But it was just a rush of all those emotions, like a sigh of relief, like we finally did it.

As you point out, a lot of times it means more to us when we've had to sacrifice and work harder for what we accomplished and also when we've had failure first. We're spending a few minutes with Jalen Slawson, who's the Southern Conference Player of the Year with the Furman Paladins. Coach Ritchie, he was the one that recruited you five years ago now. And you mentioned what he proposed to you about potentially getting to the tournament.

But why Furman? Why was it the right spot for you? Coach Ritchie was young and he wanted to use me in a different way than a lot of people. So when I was being recruited, I was being recruited a lot as a wing, like a 3 and D guy. Coach Ritchie called my AAU coach and actually told him that he liked my passing ability.

And I've always loved passing. My brother was a point guard. You know, he's 18 years older than me. So from the time I was little, he was always trying to teach me how to make reads and where to throw passes and whatnot.

And then we came up here on a visit. Coach Ritchie tells me and my dad that he wants to use me as a five. And my dad looked at me with the funniest face. And then I looked at Coach Ritchie and was like, are you serious?

Like, you really want me to be a five, like six, eight. And he was like, he was like, just watch how we're going to use you. So he started selling me on all these five out concepts and showing me different actions that we run, that they run in the NBA and all kinds of stuff. So I fell in love. I fell in love with the scheme that Coach Ritchie had. And, you know, just the fact that he was crazy enough to try to use me as a five. I figured he was worth a shot. And then I went and hung out with all the players.

And, you know, a lot of schools preach about like, oh, yeah, this brotherhood, this, you know, connection, da, da, da, da, da. You know, I really felt that it was really genuine here and everybody loves everybody. We were together the whole night. The whole team, you know, the whole team went somewhere. The whole team left together.

The whole team went another place. I felt the connection. They welcomed me as if I had already committed or already was signed. Honestly, even on the team before I had committed, you know, and then we played pick up the next morning.

You know, it was more of the same. And we go to a football game and everybody's it's a big family atmosphere. You've got coaches, kids running around acting crazy.

You know, everybody, everybody on campus is coming to say what's up. And, you know, obviously they're you just you just could feel the family vibe. And then I told my dad, this is what I wanted to be. And we pulled some teeth for a little while because my dad went to the Citadel, which is a Furman's rival.

Yes. But once we got home, my dad said, OK, like, you're right. This is this is what I want you to be.

And he's loved it more purple ever since. Oh, that's awesome. Jalen Slauson is with us from Furman getting set for a matchup against Virginia, a four thirteen matchup in the NCAA tournament. It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. It dawned on me. Obviously, you were not alive the last time Furman made the NCAA tournament, but your coach wasn't either.

I actually looked up his age and he was not alive either. What does that mean to you and to your team and to coach Richie to know that you've brought NCAA tournament basketball back to this campus? For the first time in decades, it means a lot to us. We as the Furman basketball team feel like, you know, we're kind of the I don't want to say the thing that pulls Furman together athletics wise, because we have some we have some phenomenal, phenomenal programs here tracking cross country when when the so-called year in and year out. Everybody seems most excited for our games. And there's always a lot of buzz around our game. The whole university was really rooting for us, especially after last year.

So, you know, just to be able to do that and be able to play well and accomplish a mission for the program and for the university means a ton to us. So last year, you know, we had Coach Williams go take a job at Anderson. He's now the head coach over at Anderson.

He's doing a phenomenal job over there now. But last year, there was nobody that was on our staff at all. That was a lot of the last time from the National Championship.

Oh my gosh. We talked about how we can't bear that weight that we weren't alive. It's not like we were here and not making it to the national tournament that whole time. But I mean, it feels good. I'm glad I'm glad the university stood behind us and stuck with us.

And it feels good to be able to make them proud. Awesome. I'll just admit I did not know what a paladin is. And so we googled it on the show last night. I don't know if you've had to answer that question, but yeah, now people are getting to know exactly what a paladin is. Yes, ma'am. I did.

I didn't know what a paladin was. You know what I committed. So I don't feel so bad then.

OK, good. Jalen Slauson is with us here after our CBS sports radio. What have you learned so far?

And it's not as though they're a secret. But what have you learned so far about Cavaliers basketball? Man, they're really good. Coach Bennett is a phenomenal coach.

Obviously a NCAA tournament champion. Really, really stout defensively. You know, we have some things that we're going to try to exploit with our offense. You know, we have one of the most potent offenses in the country and they have one of the best defenses in the country. Well, we obviously pride ourselves a lot on defense. But at the end of the day, we know that our offenses are bread and butter. We know that our defense allows us to be able to to be able to get out and transition and, you know, do all the things that we do best.

We're going to continue to do that next couple of days, but we're going to try to normalize this game as much as we can. You know, we're going to go out and tip it up and, you know, see if our stuff is good enough to beat their stuff. Do you think you'll be nervous considering that it's your first time collectively on that stage? If you're not nervous, you're not if you're not nervous for a basketball game, you're not a competitor.

There you go. You know, the best of the best can can say what they want to even they get a little bit nervous. But I'm going to say this team has performed really well under the light, you know, at Stanford. We went down to Stanford who claimed they have the most hostile environment and the so-called.

And, you know, pulled out, put out a pretty convincing double digit win there. We obviously went down to the Congress tournament, played really well there against against a good Chattanooga team. So I think there are going to be nerves, but I don't I wouldn't say that we're going to put any pressure on ourselves or or anything. Anything that we haven't been doing all year. Like I said, we're going to try to normalize this game as much as you can.

And so tip it up and see if our stuffs good enough to beat their stuff. You know, it strikes me as you're talking about your journey from 12 months ago and the fact that you had to hear about it and there was no way it wouldn't be part of your story. I'm sure you remember before Virginia won its national championship. It lost to a 16 seed, the first to school ever as a one seed to lose to a 16 seed. What happened was they ended up as a champion 12 months later.

So there's a lot to be said about failure, providing a springboard and that humility forcing you to get better. That's pretty crazy, huh? Yes, ma'am. That is that is crazy. You know, we've talked about that. We've talked about that a little bit. And, you know, we we study Virginia a little bit. So, you know, that that's something that we talked about earlier this year.

You know, right before we finally put it to bed and buried buried last year. But, you know, most definitely, you know, if it if it provides it can provide a hunger. And as long as you make sure it's healthy, then then those type of upset or half court ease or whatever the case may be, can can definitely prove to be no to beneficial to programs. If you if you know how to use it, if you know how to do the right. Sure.

All right. So before I let you go, you fifth year senior, you mentioned Mike also and guys on your team that you've been together as a unit. How much do you think experience matters?

Man, it's a it's a it's a big help. You know, just being able to see the game that that would be what I what I say most is, you know, how much the game slows down for you as you get older. But I will give our young guys credit. We have some young guys that really, really do play a lot older than they are.

No, I started playing cards that you could use as a sophomore. Got snubbed to being all conference really with the best point guard in the league. And it wasn't even close. And he showed that he went out won the tournament MVP at the SoCon tournament. I think he's averaging 22 over our last four or five games. So he's playing playing a tail off right now. Alex Williams comes up huge in the championship game with 12 points.

I think he had eight eight straight in the first half, seven or eight straight in the first half. Carter went to Lake Forest transfer. So he's a he's ACC caliber out of high school. So we've got we've got guys who who are really good and honestly are ready to play in these type of games. You know, I was a little bit different.

I might be a little bit gun shy my sophomore year. These guys don't give a rip. They're going to go out there and they don't care who's lined up across from them. They're going to they're going to go out on it. And I love it. I'm here.

I'm here to see it. You know, Coach Ritchie says all the time. He would much rather have to tell a dog was and go. And, you know, we have to calm those guys down a little bit sometimes. But, you know, as a fifth year, I can so much rather have them having to tell a guy to calm down a little bit.

Or less relaxed and then to pick it up and he needs to play harder. Sounds like you guys have a blast. Yes, ma'am.

Yes, ma'am. We definitely is definitely a fun group of guys to be around and fun group to watch play. If you guys haven't seen us play, I would highly, I would highly advise to watch this game Thursday at twelve forty on TV.

Oh, yeah. Well, the nation's about to see and hear more about Furman Paladins basketball. Twenty seven and seven this year, a 13th seed against Virginia. First time in the tournament since 1980, which is amazing.

And Jalen Slauson, the Southern Conference Player of the Year. Congratulations. I'm so glad that you have this 12 month full circle and you know, it was all worth it.

And we are rooting for you, Jalen. Thank you. Yes, ma'am. Thank you, Miss Amy. I appreciate it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-14 08:30:27 / 2023-03-14 08:38:26 / 8

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