We sit down with St Mary's big man on campus Jock Landale to find out his go-to move, his toughest competition and just how far he think he can carry this team.
1. What made you start playing basketball as a young kid?
I think I started playing basketball as a kid out of pure curiosity. I began having massive growth spurts at around 14 in year 9 and from there I realised that maybe I should take up a sport to make use of the height and basketball was the one I chose.
2. From a personal standpoint, when was the moment that you knew that you could make an impact as a basketball player and potentially go to college and beyond? Was it a certain game or maybe an entire season?
I think I first realised I had a chance when I made the under 19 Australian tour to China. Before then I had always thought about college but had never really thought it was a realistic goal. Especially not Saint Mary's of all places.
3. Your 6’11’ and going against some of the strongest and most athletics big bodies in the NCAA. Who’s the toughest player to guard so far? Is it another big, or is there a guard you hate switching out on too?
I never really hate guarding any player because I enjoy the challenge of going up against others who compete at a really high level. But I think that so far the toughest opponent I have been up against is Eric Mika. He plays at such a high level and is very versatile in the ways he scores.
4. You’re now in your junior year and one of the most consistent and dominant players on the Gaels and in your conference. How has your leadership role changed compared to your past 2 years? Did you have to wait your turn, or did you always want to come in and lead from the get go?
I think from the get go I was able to come in and lead from more of a vocal stand point and help bring energy to practice. I was never really the guy giving the motivational speech or anything as a freshman so in that sense I had to wait a bit to say my share in huddles but I always liked to think I was the loudest in the gym even as a freshman and led in that sense.
5. If and NBA Scout were to ask you to describe your biggest strength, and also an area that you need to work on what would you say?
I think my biggest strength is my versatility in scoring, I have an array of moves in the low post but can step out to a midrange jumper as well. My three point game has come a long way as well even though the numbers may not necessarily show it in games but I think I shoot well in practice. And then I am about to read pick and roll situations quite well. The thing I need to improve on most is probably my defense. It has come a long way but I think that I still have a lot more improvement to do there.
6. We don’t often hear about the people in the background such as coaches or family but in your career as a basketball player, has there been a coach or role model who has had a significant impact on you not only as a player but as a person?
Yes absolutely. Simon Giovannoni has been the biggest impact on my career thus far. He was my first coach and has worked with me individually since the start. Always had belief in me but will never lie to me. Holds me accountable on everything and unlike a lot of coaches never blows smoke which is a big thing I respect about him. My family also has had a huge impact on helping me when I have needed it as I often get too focused on basketball and they help me to see what is important.
7. You’ve caught the ball on the block, 8 second left down by 1...what are you going too? Jump hook, drop step? What’s your go-to move that you rely on in close situations?
Thats a tough question! The way I play isn't so much I have a go to move but more so I read what the defenders are doing and work with what I have got. But if i had to pick a most reliable shot which I trust to go in every time it would be my right hand jump hook or turn and face jumper.
8. What are your ambitions for yourself and for the team as regular conference play comes to an end? How far can this group go do you think?
I think my team has tremendous potential and we are discovering our potential every day. Our goal is always to win a WCC championship which always proves to be extremely tough but we think that is a very doable goal, and personally I would love to be the team that goes the deepest in the NCAA tournament ever at Saint Mary's so anything past the sweet 16 run would be great.
Personally I made it my goal at the start of the season to be a all league player of the year and on the all league first team.
9. St Mary’s has a rich Australian history of great players. Does the fact Delly and Patty Mills have made a successful career in the NBA since being at St Mary’s give you belief in your ability to have a crack at the big time, or is it something that doesn’t cross your mind?
I think as a athlete in order to be good you have to have faith in yourself that you can make it in the big time, so yes having Pat and Matty come through here makes it that little bit more realistic but something I have really tried focusing on this season is not getting distracted by all the talk that goes on outside of our team so its not really something I like to dwell on too much.
10. What are your future goals as a player? NBL, Euroleague? Or can we expect to see you on upcoming NBA draft boards?
Honestly I have no idea. I definitely want to play professional for as long as I can but when it comes time to cross that bridge I will put more thought into where I want to play then.
11. Do you have any words of wisdom for up and coming juniors who would also one day love to continue that Australian heritage with the Gaels?
I think from where I stand and being through everything I have been through, I would say the most important thing is to just believe that you can do it as cliche as it sounds. I rode the bench for most of my junior career got cut from team which led to me quitting for 5 years but then once I realised that its what I really wanted to do and I wasn't going to let anyone tell me otherwise and it all started falling into place. And then once you realise that its what you want to so you have to be willing to put in the work every day.