Saturday, March 2, 2013

Senior chat: James Madison's Tarik Hislop

James Madison pays tribute to its seniors on Sunday, and that includes 5-7 point guard Tarik Hislop. Easily a first team All-CAA pick (if we had a vote), Hislop averages 16.9 ppg and 3.5 apt, but more so is the reason these Dukes are in the hunt for the CAA title. The clutch shooter, who has played in a school record 132 games, is the thread who weaves the JMU offense together. She took a few to chat with us.

Something you love about JMU basketball.

Our coaches work out with us all the time. And they're always there trying to better our game, trying to get us to the next level. From what I hear, the coaches aren't as involved with their players, it's more like a business at the pro level.

The coach on your staff who could still play?

Coach Brooks. He shows me his moves, and that's actually elevated my game this year -- just the one-on-one moves he's shown me, ways to get my shot off faster, ways to get around the defense faster.

Now about your shooting. ...  It's not unusual for you to miss a ton of shots, but when it's time to hit the gamewinner, you're gold.

For games I get really hyped. It's that way for every game. It doesn't matter who we're playing. In the first half, I tend to rush my shot, rush my moves. That plays a big part when I miss a lot of my shots. The second half I calm down and pass the ball with confidence.

I live for the big shot. I like taking the shot. I living having the ball in my hands. Even when I'm having a tough shooting night, I know what my teams expects of me, and I know I've made big shots before. I'm not afraid of that moment. I'm confident in the way I play and I live for those moments.

Favorite moment in JMU in a game?

When I won my first CAA championship.

Back then, it was Dawn's team. Talk about the difference between then and now.

I loved the role I was in when Dawn played. It was Dawn's show; she was the one who had the ball in her hands. She was the one who took the big shots. I was under the radar. I think I benefited a lot from her being the focal point of the other teams' defenses. I enjoyed that role my freshman and sophomore years. Then when my junior year came around, I transitioned into the point guard, which was a rough transition for me because I played the shooting guard. Coach Brooks helped me with that. I accepted my role as the leader of the team and the captain of the year. I've been in that role for high school and AAU teams.

If you're not on the court; you're doing what?

It's changed over the years. I used to love to socialize, go out. My senior year, I've just been inside. Whenever I get a break, I want to lay down, watch TV and relax. I just don't know if I'm going to get that chance after college to just relax.

What do you watch?

I usually watch ESPN. It's usually late at night. I watch basketball highlights.

What basketball do you enjoy?

I like the Miami Heat. D. Wade is my favorite player; I love watching him play. And I'm a Chris Paul boy.

As for the women's game ....

I love to watch women's basketball, but they don't advertise it like I think they should. When I can catch it, I'm happy. If I picked a favorite woman, it would be Cappie Pondexter.

You guys lost Nikki Newman for the season early, and that seemed like the end of the world for a while. How did the Dukes overcome that?

When we lost Nikki, we did feel that way, but it wasn't for long because we knew we weren't getting her back. We needed to see who was going to step up, who's going to take over that defensive role, that scrappiness she brings to the game. I think Jazmon Gwathmey and Toia Giggetts have stepped up. Toia's been our rebounding machine as well as Kirby. Jazmon Gwathmey has been our defensive stopper, especially when we're playing Delaware. She guards Delle Donne.

How Precious is Precious Hall (easily the CAA Freshman of the Year, btw)?

She's great. She's comfortable on the court now. I went through that whole thing as a freshman. You need that breakout game to give you confidence, make you realize you can play basketball. I think at the beginning of conference play, she had her breakout game. It's great when the teams are keying in on Kirby and me to have a third option.

Your emotions for senior night on Sunday?

My mom, my dad, my brother and my boyfriend (the Dukes' Rayshawn Goins) will be there. I'm not looking forward to it. It's going to be emotional -- so many  different emotions. Those will be the people I will share the moment with.

Something about you that would surprise many?

I'm terrified of animals. My  teammates tease me about that all the time. They say, 'You're the strongest person on the team and you're scared of a little dog or a little cat?' I'm terrified of almost any animal you can think of. I have no pets.

You want to play overseas. And then?

I majored in sports management and I'm sure I'll get into coaching. I want to stay in basketball as long as I can.

What you'll miss about JMU?

Our whole coaching staff is young, first of all. They're down to earth. What I like the most is while they were recruiting me, they were so genuine, but that's how all coaches seem when they're recruiting you. They've been that way. That's the real them. They've never changed since I've been here.

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