Malik Mack, Harford Tech, basketball

Q&A --

January 14, 2007

Harford Tech junior forward Malik Mack, 6 feet 1, is averaging 10 rebounds, along with eight points, even though he has been playing organized basketball for only two years. "He's sort of like a pogo stick," coach Bill Jones said. "He'll jump three or four times, because he's playing against guys 6-4 and 6-6, and then he'll keep jumping and tip the ball to himself." Mack carries a 3.8 grade point average and is a peer tutor and a member of the National Honor Society. He also serves on the student council and wants to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

How did you improve your game so quickly?

Our new assistant coach, Joe Groszkowski, has been working with me on my low-post moves, my free throws, my low-post defense and my positioning. I do have 220 pounds to lean on people.

What's your favorite part of the game?

I like to play defense against taller players. I like to pressure taller players with big reputations and take them out of their game.

How much basketball did you play before the ninth grade?

I played some practice games in rec ball but mostly I played pickup games in a league run by my uncle in Philadelphia. We played every day on a playground in west Philadelphia.

What's your main goal in life, having such high academic achievements?

My mother has always stressed academics first, and before the 11th grade I didn't have many basketball accomplishments. So it's still academics first, but I'm thinking more about basketball now and learning every day by watching others play and listening to my coaches. Attending MIT is still my big goal.

Why is the team suddenly winning (it has won three of its past four games after a 1-5 start)?

Confidence. We have confidence now. Everyone is playing together. Everyone is feeling the whole teamwork thing. Everybody is understanding that you can't do it by yourself. We gained that confidence by making it to the championship of our Christmas tournament.

What do you want to improve most about your game?

My offensive low-post moves. There are times I make silly mistakes and I realize I need more moves. I need to get better position. I score some off low-post moves but mostly off rebounds and passes by our guards.

What's the most exciting thing you've been involved in on the basketball court for Harford Tech?

Probably this winning stretch we're going through right now.

Will you play basketball in college?

Oh yes, I think I will play in college.

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