Eric Atkins, Mount St. Joseph, basketball

Q & A //

Gaels' leading man focused on final act — winning title

February 25, 2010|By By Glenn Graham

Over his stellar four-year career at Mount St. Joseph, senior point guard Eric Atkins has received plenty of individual accolades, most recently being named the Baltimore Catholic League's Player of the Year for the second straight season. Before moving on to play at Notre Dame next season, he would like nothing more than to win a championship. The No. 2 Gaels, regular-season champions in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, fell to St. Frances in Sunday's MIAA championship game, but Atkins is confident his team will rebound in this weekend's BCL playoffs. Bringing a well-rounded game with strong leadership, Atkins, who maintains a 3.0 grade-point average, has averaged 15 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in leading the Gaels to a 28-3 mark.

Question: How is this time of year, the playoffs, different for you?

Answer: You're excited for every single game; I'm just anxious to play and hope we can stay on our roll. This is the time of year when you really have to buckle down to win championships.

Q: Talk about your role and being a senior.

A: This year, being a senior, and even last year, I had to be a leader on the team. These past four years have been great - I felt like I matured more and more every year, and this year I want to finish it off right.

Q: What do you enjoy most about running the team as point guard?

A: I like having the pressure being on my shoulders. I just feel like if I have the ball, I can make the right decisions for the rest of the team to be successful.

Q: The team chemistry has been great this season. How important is that?

A: Over the summer, we were always together in the gym or working out, and I think that helped us. Us being seniors - Ryley [Beaumont] and Matt Miller - we really want to make this season special, this being our last year.

Q: Did you watch the Mount St. Joseph soccer team win the MIAA championship?

A: Yes, I was there.

Q: What was that like seeing them win it all like that?

A: That just made me want to win a championship in basketball so much more. I watched how they celebrated after, and it looked great. I want that same feeling.

Q: Aside from basketball, what's it like being a senior at Mount St. Joe?

A: It feels good, but also it's kind of bittersweet because I am thinking about leaving and I'm going to miss everybody around here. But the college experience will be great.

Q: What was it about Notre Dame [that made you want to go there]?

A: I've never been on a campus with so much tradition. I just felt honored to be on campus, and I was very excited to be there. I committed the second time I went up there. Everything just felt right there.

Q: What are your thoughts on playing in the Big East next year?

A: I'm very excited to get in there. I'm excited to get to Notre Dame in the summer to get bigger. I know if I'm going to survive in the Big East, I'm going to have to get bigger. I think it's the best conference in the country. I'm excited for the challenge.

Q: What has been your best moment on the basketball court?

A: I think the best moment for me was my sophomore year. It was on my birthday here against John Carroll. It was the year after my father passed, and I went for 28 points. That was like my breakout game and one I'll always remember.

Q: How much have you grown as a player and person since your freshman year?

A: When I first came here, I was pretty shy and I didn't talk much. Even as a point guard, when I came in, I wasn't very talkative. But I had to grow up quick here, especially starting as a freshman. It's a tough school that challenged me and helped me become the person I am today.

Q: What is the best advice you've ever received?

A: Stay humble and stay hungry. It was given to me by my father before he passed. It's very important to me. Those two things - humble and hungry - are very big because even with the accolades I may have received last year, I still have to stay hungry and improve on that this year. And next year is going to be even harder.

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