TWTW: Outtakes from the McCaffrey story

As you might expect with a story of such length, there was plenty of stuff that got left on the cutting room floor in putting together my Sunday piece on Cam McCaffrey, not to mention from interviews with Cody Schilling, Bill Gross, Leif Nomeland and others.
Here are some of the best bits and pieces from my interviews that didn’t make it into the final story.

Cody on losing the scoring record:
"I get crap about it everyday. Am I upset that he’s breaking it? Absolutely not. Records are made to be broken, and if anybody is going to break it I’m glad it’s a guy like Cam."
"I feel like Cam and I both played a big role in changing the culture here. There was a time that Augie wasn’t really a place guys wanted to go. Now look, we’re competing for recruits with South Dakota State and some of the other D1s, and in some cases we’re winning. It’s a special place, and I’m proud of what Cam and I were able to do to be a part of that."

Leif, when asked about the different styles of leadership they bring:
"Cam is a lead by example guy in practice. He gets after guys when he needs to, especially in the huddle during a game, but most of the time he’s leading by example. We never had a sitdown where it was like, ‘OK, I’ll be the rah-rah guy, the coach on the floor, and you be the lead-by-example guy, that just sort of came naturally due to our personalities."
"I really think Cam started to develop more maturity and more comfort in being a leader at the end of last year, once he started getting healthy, and he’s carried that over into this year. I think he realized he couldn’t do it by himself. He needs these guys, so he knew he had to help them get better."

Bill Gross, on where Cam ranks among the all-time greats at Augustana:
"We’ve had some great guards, some really spectacular, colorful guys, but they were one or two year guys. Corey McIntosh is one, David Johnson was definitely a really special player. And we’ve had lots of four year guys who were very good for assists, steals, and such, but I don’t believe we’ve had a four-year point guard who could score like Cam. You kind of have to be careful when you compare, but he’s right up there with our best."

And, from Cam.

On whether he every thought of leaving for a D1 school after his freshman year or later:
"When I decided to come here I did kind of think, ‘Well if I don’t like it Portland State could get those scholarships back, or maybe someone else will take me, but the longer I was here the more it became a second home for me, and after my freshman year, with Cody being just a year older than me, I really felt like we had something special."

On the injured knee that limited him in his junior year:
"I was never at 100 percent until pretty much the end of the year. I had two surgeries six weeks before the season started. When the guys were getting ready to practice and work I was just starting to run again, and I really never caught up because most of the year I just didn’t practice. I didn’t want to miss any games, but it is kind of tough when people think you’re having a bad year when they don’t really know what’s going on, especially when the coaches aren’t talking to the media about it or anything."

On the failures of the 2011-12 team:
"Obviously the expectations were really high, especially being Cody’s senior year. We put alot of it on ourselves, and that can change your attitude and how you do things, especially when you start losing games. You get really upset, you’re like ‘how can we be losing to this team, we’re supposed to be so great’. I think a lot of it is just parity, basketball is very balanced."
"During the season you can’t ever be like, ‘This sucks’, because you’ve still got games to play, and we did make the playoffs. But a year later you can look back and say, yeah, we should’ve done more than we did."

On the pizza incident his sophomore year, when he shot a 3 at the buzzer (and made it) despite the fact that Vikings had a big lead over SMSU, to give fans free pizza as part of a promotion with Boss’s Pizza:
"That was a tough one. I was younger then, I wouldn’t do that today. In the long run it’s just some pizza, so it wasn’t worth it to do something like that."

After me reassuring him that I thought it was kind of awesome
"Yeah, I mean, I was doing it for the fans, I wasn’t trying to show up Southwest State in any way. I’d never done anything like that in my whole life because I’d never had a reason to. I had a reason to that night. You could hear (the students) yelling for it the whole game. It was a tough spot to be in, but I realized later it probably wasn’t the right thing to do."

Just think if you’d missed the shot, I say
"Yeah, no kidding. That would’ve looked really bad. The one thing people were saying to me after was, ‘Hey, at least you made the shot’. Then one of my friends was like, ‘Yeah, maybe you shouldn’t have done that’, and I was like, ‘Well, thanks, I did it for you guys.’"

On his reputation early in his career as a gunner, or ball-hog:
"I was a scoring point guard in high school. I’ve worked hard on my passing and cutting down turnovers and making better decisions, but my role is to score points, that’s my job. I’m honestly just trying to win games. For us to do that, we usually need me to score. We’ve won games where I only scored 10 points and trust me, I wasn’t complaining about it."

On his relationship with Cody Schilling:
"Sometimes people thought we weren’t getting along, that we were fighting over points. That was crap. But it was always there. I never had any issue with sharing the ball. I had it in my hands more, but getting it to him was part of my job. He was by far the best player in the conference (in 2010-11, when Schilling led the NSIC in scoring and McCaffrey was second). I loved playing with him. He was this guy that had been a stud in high school and everyone knew him and he was the target of everybody, and he took a lot of heat off the rest of us. I learned a lot from him about how to brush that stuff off."

On his unconventional shot:
"It wasn’t that bad in high school, I think it was kind of normal-looking then. And so then in college, I don’t know if it was lifting that did it or what, but I’d see a picture of myself and think ‘Is my shot really that ugly?’ It feels normal when I shoot it. The mechanics are funny, I guess, but if it goes in I don’t care, and I don’t think (Coach Tom Billeter) does, either."

On breaking Schilling’s record to become the Vikings’ all-time scoring leader:
"Cody introduced me to his girlfriend one time by saying ‘This is the guy who’s gonna break my record’, and I know a lot of our friends have been teasing him, they want me to break it.
"Later in life I know I’ll want things like that to look at and think about. But it really goes back to, if you do everything you can to win all the personal stuff takes care of itself. I think it’s just a product of working hard for four years, I mean, I do feel like I’ve earned it, and it’s a cool feeling."

At this point I mention to Cam how funny it would’ve been if he’d only broken the record by a point, meaning the “Pizza Shot” would’ve been the difference maker. Cam laughed out loud at the thought.

"That would’ve been funny," he said. "Sorry, coach, but now you can’t be mad at me for it."