In preparation for Penn basketball game against Lafayette on Saturday, I had the opportunity to speak with Leopards captain, forward Seth Hinrichs. As a senior, Hinrichs has played at the Palestra before and knows that defeating Penn at that venue will be a tough task but believes his team has the right game plan. Lafayette is coming off a win over Princeton on Wednesday.
Daily Pennsylvanian: This is the beginning of a three game road trip for Lafayette. How are you guys planning to stop Penn on Saturday and start this road trip on the right foot?
Seth Hinrichs: I think being good defensively. In that game [on Wednesday] against Princeton, we came out and gave up too many wide open shots so it’s just limiting Penn’s shooters and contesting shots and that will get us on the right track hopefully.
DP: You guys have been out-shooting your opponents. The team has a shooting percentage of .500 and the opposition converts only 37 percent shooting. How much of that is credited to the defense?
SH: The first two games we played we used zone against Robert Morris and West Virginia. … [On Wednesday] Princeton shot about 50 percent when we played man so I think we need to shore up our man defense and prove that a little bit going forward so we can continue to get better.
DP: Defensively, the team has had a lot of trouble grabbing rebounds. For every 3 defensive rebounds that they get, they let up 2 offensive rebounds. How do you change that?
SH: We’ve been emphasizing defensive rebounding and defense as a whole all preseason. And going forward from the first few games here, we know that we need to keep it up defensively so I think emphasizing it in practice, continuing to work on it and getting better each day. I think we made some strides, but we need to get better in that area.
DP: On offense, the points have been coming from the entire starting five. How important is that going up against a good defensive team like Penn?
SH: We need to continue to move the ball. We know we have a lot of capable scorers. And we know how tough Penn is and how tough it is to play at the Palestra. We need to move the ball and not take a good shot but a great shot, whether it’s a wide open three or a layup or whatever it may be we need to work all around the court on offense.
DP: How important has sophomore Nick Lindner been to this team’s success? He leads the team in minutes and is in second for points per game.
SH: He’s huge. We kind of go as he goes … He hasn’t really had as much pressure on him this year and it’s really showing. He’s playing more relaxed out there. His leadership has gotten a lot better too. And his play has shown, as a result, how well he’s done so far.
DP: Penn’s top scorer and hot hand at the moment is guard Tony Hicks. How is the team planning on stopping him?
SH: I think it’s going to be a team effort. We know Tony Hicks from the past few years. He’s been a really solid guard for Penn. … Whether we start [Joey ] or [Bryce ] on him we’ll just kind of rotate and then Zach Rupprecht coming off the bench as well and [Nick Lindner] is very capable of guarding him as well. We’ll throw a lot of different guys at him and try to corral him. [We need to be] a unit defensively because we know one guy will not be able to guard him by himself. So we’ll try and help and limit his good looks.
DP: Penn is just recovering from a two-game losing streak and finishes their home stand against you guys. Do you expect to see a lot of fire from this Penn team?
SH: Every time we play Penn it’s a close game. Last year it was a two-point game and the year before that they had a really good comeback and made it a really close game at the Palestra. And we know playing at the Palestra is tough. For the juniors and seniors, two years ago we had to play there so we know the challenge there. Now, if we can play good defense and limit Hicks and get good offensive looks, we’ll have a good gameplan.
DP: What about Penn’s team concerns you the most heading into Saturday?
SH: We know Tony Hicks is kind of their firepower, but they also have a couple capable guards that can make plays and that big guy inside [junior center Darien Nelson-Henry] is a force to be reckoned with, so we know that they’re a really well-rounded team. They move the ball and get good shots like we do. We know it’s a tough task with a team that has a lot of firepower and potential so we know we gotta go out there and play well defensively.Tweet