By Brian McInnis
Here's the first of seven Rainbow Warrior Q&A sessions conducted during the preseason as we count down toward the Nov. 6 exhibition vs. Chaminade next Saturday:
Junior shooting guard Zane Johnson is up first.
Q: How did you prepare yourself in the offseason/coming back from a knee injury?
A: Definitely put in the work in the offseason, as far as getting my leg stronger from surgery and lifting and working on the things that I really needed to work on, as far as basketball and one-dribble pull-ups.
I worked out with the guys over here, (manager) Nick (Milan) and (strength coach) Chris (McMillian). But I just focused on the things that I felt I really needed to work on to improve my game this year, which as off the dribble and quickness laterally.
On his role at Arizona:
Yeah, it was just situational, I just pretty much stayed in the corner and shot 3s. My role is just as a role player, not anything special. Just go out there and do my job, just make 3s. That was my role, to make 3s and play defense.
(I want to be) more of an all-around player, be able to score off the dribble. Just doing whatever I can do to help us win, and not just being labeled as a shooter.
When were you last a well-rounded player?
In high school I did everything, post up, brought the ball up the court. But that’s high school, a totally different level than college. It’s a lot slower; when I was in high school, I did everything, pretty much.
On last year and rehabbing during the season:
It was really difficult. Luckily I had a lot of people to talk to who had surgery, and had seen people through sitting out. But it was definitely tough just sitting there ... the thing about it was knowing that I couldn’t go out there and play. I wanted to, but I was in my cast. The whole year. It was the longest year ever. I’m so glad it’s over with. It honestly was. With not only sitting out, but all the stuff that went on last year. Just that whole situation last year, was just a long year.
How is the knee now?
(The left knee) is 100 percent. It’s never felt better, actually. My left patellar tendon. Honestly, it feels stronger than my right leg, now.
Any previous injuries?
Not like that, nothing that I had to sit out long periods of time. Just a sprained ankle. This was definitely, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in basketball.
On the coaching change:
It couldn’t have worked out better for me. It really couldn’t have. When he (Gib Arnold) recruited me in high school, I really wanted to go to USC and play for him. It just didn’t work out for a couple reasons, but I really wanted to. He was the main reason why I even considered USC. It was just a dream come true, honestly, because playing for him, this is great. A great situation.
What is it about Coach Arnold that works for you?
I think both (his style and his sets). Coach's style is great because he wants to score. Get up and down the court, which is good for me, ‘cause I like to get up and down and just shoot. ... The sets we have worked on, it’s definitely shooter-friendly and playing in the 80s really helps my game.
You want to be all-around, but your bread and butter is still the 3?
Of course. Ever since I was in eighth grade and I started working out hard with my buddies. I shoot every day. I shoot 3s every day. That is my bread and butter, like you said. Every day no matter what I’m always in gym, shooting. I figure if I can make 3s, that helps my whole game. If I can knock down 3s, that opens everything up for the 2, ‘cause they’ll have to play me for it. That’s definitely what I work on the most.
Who's worked with you on your shot over the years?
There’s plenty of people who’ve helped me (on form). I mean, just since I’ve been here, little things. Coach Chris helps me out a lot. I just watch basketball, and any guy who can shoot, I try to take things from there, their game and see how they do it. Just as far as getting my shot off quicker. That’s the main thing I look at. Like Reggie Miller, he comes off screens and he’s already set to shoot. When he has the ball, he’s already shot it.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
I’m just looking forward to games. I can’t wait. It’s been so long since I’ve played. I really just want to play. I look forward to practices, when it’s not limited competition.
I’m counting down the days. I’ve played so much pick-up ... I almost forget what it was like to play in a real game.
Enjoy the UH football game, everybody. Look for another Q & A tomorrow.