Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
11/12/2007 10:55:00 AM
Blog Q&A With ... Vanderbilt's Shan Foster
Over the summer, Shan Foster reminded Roy Hibbert of this Kodak moment.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
For the latest edition of the Blog Q&A series, I chatted with Vanderbilt's Shan Foster, a senior swingman who averaged 15.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 2006-07 as the Commodores reached the Sweet 16. In Vandy's '07-08 opener on Saturday against Austin Peay, Foster led the team in scoring with 21 points on seven 3-pointers. (He also has his own desktop wallpaper, although it was not a topic of conversation.) The following is an edited version of the interview:
Luke Winn: You made the 12-man roster for the U.S. Pan American Games team this summer. [Foster was the squad's second-leading scorer over five games in Brazil.] Which players do you keep in touch with the most from that trip?
Shan Foster: Either Derrick Low or Kyle Weaver from Washington State, or Roy Hibbert -- he was my roommate at the time. Those are the main three.
LW: How much did you and Roy talk about the Vanderbilt-Georgetown Sweet 16 game [which was won in the final seconds on a controversial travel/shot by Jeff Green]?
SF: Not much at all. We talked about it a little bit, obviously. I messed with [Hibbert]: I printed out the picture of me dunking on him, and I got him to sign it for me. He's a stand-up guy; he was like, 'Yeah, man, I'll sign it.'
LW: Is that prominently displayed somewhere now?
SF: No, it's in a safe place. It really just started as a joke while we were down there in Brazil. A few guys were talking about that game, and we were looking at some pictures on the Internet one day. They saw it [the dunk photo] and thought it was funny. So I printed it out as a joke. I didn't think he was going to sign it. I probably wouldn't have signed it, had it been the other way around, but he's a good guy.
LW: I read that you still won't watch film of that game ...
SF: Yeah. It definitely was tough. It ended and I was just like, 'No, I can't believe it's over.' We played so well that game. We were enjoying it being a tough game, and playing at our highest level. For it to end in that fashion ... was just ... [tails off].
LW: What's your instant reaction now, when you hear the name Jeff Green?
SF: He's a good player. A great player. He was a great player that whole game, and that whole season, and he's going to be a great NBA player. I got a chance to talk to him a little bit [from Brazil] because Roy was talking to him on the phone.
LW: And you had to ask him about the play, right?
SF: I did. I was just like, 'C'mon man, the game is over. Just for me, did you travel?' He said, 'Yeah, I traveled, but the ref didn't call it, and I made the play.' So he did travel, but he made a great play. He did what he had to do to get his team the victory.
LW: Georgetown lost Green and is still a consensus top-10 team to begin this season. Vanderbilt lost Derrick Byars and yet is unranked in nearly every poll. Does that anger you at all?
SF: No. [The media's] job is ranking the teams, and our job is to play. My thing is, we'll play and we'll see where we are when all is said and done.
LW: There's a lot of buzz about your new Australian center, A.J. Ogilvy. No one knew anything about him a few months ago, and now he's being talked about as a big-impact freshman. What is he capable of this year?
SF: Based on his work ethic, he's a guy who's capable of reaching his potential. He comes to practice with a hard hat on every day. He wants to be better. He wants to help the team win in every way possible. And skill-wise, he has great hands for a big guy; he catches post feeds real well.
LW: Is there anything about him that you've noticed that's uniquely Australian?
SF: He had on some shoes the other day that were pretty interesting -- some grey boots that looked Australian. I have no clue what they were. But for people who don't know he's from Australia, you'd never guess that he is. He fits in.
LW: I've heard that you're somewhat of a connoisseur of formal wear -- particularly suits worn in postgame appearances.
SF: Definitely. I have an aunt who owns her own clothing store -- called Alpha and Omega Creations, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, about an hour away from where I grew up [in Kenner, La.]. She takes care of me in that regard, and keeps me looking fresh.
LW: So what's your preferred style of suit?
SF: I love pinstripes. I like a little flash, I guess. I have a large range of suits. A lot of flashy stuff, but also some business-wear that isn't as flashy, but looks fine and fits all tight. I'm not as big of a fan of those. But people seem to like them.
LW: What's the flashiest one, then?
SF:My favorite right now is a black pinstripe with kind of a silverish, grey tie. I wore it for SEC Media Day. I also have a black velour suit and a gold velour suit; that one goes with a black silk shirt. I wore it after the Tennessee game last year when we beat them at Vandy.
LW: Your on-floor rep is as a long-distance gunner. Who are some of the famous shooters that you admire?
SF: Growing up, it was Reggie Miller. He was a great shooter. And Michael Jordan in terms of being able to create his own shot. But Reggie was the main one -- I loved how he was always ready to shoot. If his man relaxed on him a little bit, he was cocked and ready and releasing by the time the guy got there. As a shooter you've gotta do that: be ready at all times.
LW: Music is a big part of your life. You were in a recording session in October for a gospel compilation CD; what, exactly, did you perform?
SF: I wrote a song with one of my music teachers [at Vanderbilt]; it's called He's the Answer. It'll probably come out some time after the end of the season, because of the NCAA regulations.
LW: And what's the song about?
SF: It's about somebody who's trying to find an answer -- a person who's looking at their life and things they go through and ways they go about them, and what people are saying about them. It's about thinking through those things, and trying to find something to believe in. And toward the end of the song, that person realizes that Jesus has been there all along; he just had decided not to go that way. And then when he does decide to go that way, Jesus will be there with open arms. So, Jesus is the answer.
LW: If you're not playing basketball professionally after this season, and you go into music full-time, what kind of musician would you like to be? Would it be solo, or in a band?
SF: What I would definitely be is a gospel singer. And I'd probably start off by myself. But it all depends on where God takes me.
LW: I also heard you learned not by reading music, but just by playing it back after listening to it a few times.
SF: I've always done it that way. My family kept me in church when I was young, and pretty much everyone in my family either plays an instrument or sings. So I've sung on the choir since I was young. I've always had an ear for music, and always loved music. It wasn't until my sophomore or junior year in high school, though, that my mom bought me a keyboard for Christmas. I was determined to learn how to play; I'd go to people's houses that had pianos, and try to play using two fingers. But I stayed with it. It gave me something to focus on away from basketball.
LW: And do you still go by that method -- playing by ear only?
SF: I had one teacher in high school that did her very best to teach me some things. But I just didn't have interest in reading music, so that didn't go over too well. This past year at Vanderbilt, though, I met a lady by the name of Deanna Walker, who is a great influence on my musical talent. She's taught me a lot in terms of music. Not just reading music, but understanding chord progressions and different types of music. I'm taking another class of hers next semester.
LW: Last one: If [Vanderbilt] coach [Kevin] Stallings were in a band, what kind of music would they play?
SF: Definitely country. I feel like he'd be a country music guy. He actually plays the guitar, you know.
LW: So have you ever played with him?
SF: We were talking about it after practice not too long ago. I told him we should play something together once the season is over. He said, 'If I can get any good at it, sure.'
Shan is a great person and a great player. Glad to see him get a little publicity. When he's on, there probably isn't a player in the country more lethal from downtown... of course, we like to pretend Chris Lofton doesn't get a hot hand.
I've had classes with Shan, a couple of music classes. He's an incredibly nice guy. We both finished an exam at the same time, and after we turned it in, he just started talking to me about it, didn't know me at all. Some athletes get an aura of greatness about themselves, but not the truly great ones, like Shan.