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Max Abmas, Oral Roberts Guard

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2023 8:51 pm

Max Abmas, Oral Roberts Guard

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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March 10, 2023 8:51 pm

Max Abmas joined Zach to discuss if this year's team is better than the team that made the 2021 Sweet 16 and why he decided not to transfer. 

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Subscribe to NerdWallet's Smart Money Podcast. What makes this group so special this year? That team from 2021 were 18-11 and 10-5 in the conference. This year you guys are 30-4 and 18-0 in the conference. Do you feel like, because the record says so, that this team is better than the team from a few years ago? You guys have the experience now and you know what everyone's going to throw at you. On the other hand though, no one sleeps when they go into a game up against Oral Roberts because you guys got put on the map a few years ago. How has that kind of been the last two years navigating and dealing with all the success that you guys had?

It's so common now that transferring goes on in the NCAA. With the success that you had a few years ago, why didn't you transfer? Why did you stay at Oral Roberts? Just trusting what they had here and believing that we could win and get back to that tournament again. Max A. Smith's here with us, the star of the Oral Roberts basketball team.

We all remember him from a few years ago when he led the nation in scoring and they went on that great NCAA tournament run as a 15 seed. Your coach, you just talked about him a little bit, Paul Mills. How do you kind of look at the connection that you guys have been able to build?

Because I say, you've stayed at Oral Roberts, he has stayed as well at Oral Roberts. Yeah, just that relationship. We trust one another. He trusts me to go out there and he lets me play my game. I think that's what any player would ever want from a coach. On my side of things, I trust him too. He puts in a lot of time watching film and preparing every single game. It's just that trust that has continued to grow over the last few years.

Max A. Smith's here with us on the Zach Geld show. Have you become a better player from what a lot of people have seen you last two years ago? Yeah, I think just going through the whole draft process and talking with the coaching staff too. Just trying to find areas that I can improve my game on to become a better player and also put myself in a better position. I think one of the big things was making reads off pick and rolls. I think the last couple of years we've had a little more pick and roll type of actions. Just getting more comfortable playing in those situations and also understanding that in order to have a chance at that next level, my defense has to pick up.

So trying to put a focus on that as well. The coaching staff has done a good job of holding me accountable to those things. For you, and everyone goes back to that 2021 season. I know you guys didn't get back to the tournament last year, but you did have an extra win in the regular season, right? You guys had two more wins in the conference. What did you learn about last year not making the tourney that really had this group this year come back and play pretty much flawless basketball being 30-4 and not dropping a conference game? I think coming off that Sweet 16 one, the year after, we all expected to get right back. It didn't happen last year. I wouldn't say we had a terrible season, but coming off the Sweet 16 one, it definitely didn't live up to that expectation. Just understanding that it's tough to get back to the NCAA tournament and win a conference championship.

Nothing is going to be handed to us. Just coming into this year, understanding that, really taking it a single game at a time. Understanding that we're going to get the best shot out of a lot of teams, so we have to be locked in and focused every single game and do what we can to put ourselves in the best position to win. What can this team accomplish? Do you feel like this team could go on another big run and go even further than the team from two years ago?

Yeah, definitely. I think we can for sure. As long as we continue to get better every single day and not look too far ahead, but really stay in the moment and do what we can each and every game, being that we have an older group of guys who have that experience playing at the highest level. What do you look back on? That memory of that great NCAA tournament run? Still to this day, what are the memories of that Sweet 16 team that you have? Man, I can remember it all pretty much. That was probably the biggest highlight of my life. Being a kid growing up, you always dream of being in a position like that and being in moments like that. It was something special that will never be forgotten.

Just thinking back to it, enjoying all the time I had with my teammates and us being excited for one another. It's just not an opportunity that comes every single day. The thing that always stood out to me about that team, and I remember talking to your coach an hour or two after the win against Ohio State, you guys expected to win the game. I know you never go into a game and say, we're going to lose, but sometimes that stage of the NCAA tournament is too big for some. This group doesn't really ever sense that pressure.

Why is that? I think that's just because we know the work that we put in and we trust it. We put on our shoes just like every other team puts on their shoes. We go into every game confident. For one, we have a coaching staff who's going to do an excellent job of watching film and getting prepared for a game and conveying that knowledge to us. We've got to go out there and execute it. We have confidence in everybody.

There's a lot of people outside I might not believe, but we understand what it takes and we know the abilities that we have. We're going to go into every game confident. If someone hasn't seen your team this year, Max A. Smith, what does Oral Roberts bring this year in basketball? We're just a team. We're going to go out there and do what we have to do to win. I think the big thing that attributes us is our ability to shoot the ball. One of the big things that we like to do is we want to set the tone defensively. We don't control the shots they're going in or they aren't.

We're going to go out there and try to set the tone on that end. Just be us and go out there and do whatever we can to win. Before we let you run, you guys played Houston earlier in the season. We know they're one of the better teams in the country.

I know the game did not go the way that you wanted to. Kelvin Sampson did a great job with that program the last few years. What do you remember about that Houston game? I think it was a good experience for us.

Early in the season, I believe November, we're still building chemistry, playing with one another, understanding how to feed off of one another. We took that, we learned from it. We saw different areas that we could definitely improve on. The important thing was moving in the right direction from that.

I think we did a good job of that. Last thing I'll ask you, Max A. Smith. You were overlooked, come out of college, didn't have many offers. We know you went to Oral Roberts and you've become a star a few years ago. You lead the nation in scoring.

You got a lot of flowers thrown your way during that great run to the Sweet 16. Do you still sense that chip on your shoulder? Do you still feel like you get overlooked a little bit?

Yeah, definitely. That chip on my shoulder will never go away. The biggest goal for me is to make it to the next level.

I might not pass that eye test of being big enough to play at the next level. One thing for me is just controlling what I can control. I'm going to go out there and give it 110% every time I step on the court and do whatever I can to put myself in the best position. Well, it's been a magnificent journey. Best of luck. We'll see where you guys land coming up on Selection Sunday. Good luck and hopefully we see a nice long tourney run once again. Yes, sir. Appreciate you for having me. On the Odyssey app or wherever you get your podcast.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-11 11:08:33 / 2023-03-11 11:12:27 / 4

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