Checking in with Cheikh

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As you grow older, you do grow somewhat wiser, which is why I often try to accomplish multiple things at once.

Since my youngest son is attending Mick Cronin's Basketball Camp at UC this week (and in full disclosure, I paid the going price) I thought I might as well talk to one of the players that assists in coaching the kids.

Players that are assisting include JaQuon Parker, Ge'Lawn Guyn, Shaq Thomas and Cheikh Mbodj. In the Olympic spirit of international relations, I chose Mbodj, the recently slimmed down center out of Dakar, Senegal.

(Cheikh Mbodj)

Q: Tell me how you dropped all of the weight....

A: I just managed to change my diet and stuff. Since my ankle is healthy, I did some extra running and conditioning. That's how I ended up dropping 25 pounds.

Q: Do you feel faster?

A: Dropping the weight really helped my ankle and my mobility out. I can tell I run faster and jump higher.

Q: You guys are going to play fast, right?

A: Yep, yep. We're going to play faster this year. A lot of high motion stuff. We're going to be like a pretty good fastbreak team.

Q: You're helping the kids out here in the camp. Is that fun for you? What kind of things did you do when you were small?

A: I really love helping the kids out and being around them. Years ago, I was one of those kids back in Senegal. I can't imagine how they feel being around us.

Q: And you didn't play basketball until you were older?

A: I was around 14. I can just imagine--I never had the chance of doing this (going to camps).

Q: In Senegal, your sport was soccer?

A: In Senegal it was soccer.

Q; What position did you play?

A: I used to play the right back on the defensive side. I was like those players trying to stop the forwards and stuff. A defensive guy.

Q: Were you tough to get around?

A: It wasn't easy to get around me in soccer.

Q: Did you get to do any of the goal kicks?

A: Yeah, I used to do the free kicks a lot. I was heavy-footed.

Q: Could you kick it to midfield and beyond?

A: Yeah, yeah.

Q: Do you miss playing it at all?

A: Sometimes I just play around with it. I grab a ball and dribble with my legs and stuff and do some tricks.

Q: Can your teammates do that?

A: My teammates probably can't.

Q: Do you watch the Olympics and keep up with the World Cup and things like that?

A: Yeah, I watch the Olympics, like USA basketball. I watch basketball most of the time. It's really fun watching it.

Q: Do you watch Olympic soccer also?

A: Olympic soccer, yeah.  Senegal was in it, but sadly we lost. We lost to Mexico the other day.

Q: Are they pretty decent?

A: Yeah, they made it to the quarterfinals so that's pretty decent.

Q: When was the last soccer game that you played?

A: It was a while ago, when I was a kid.

Q: Do they need more scoring?

A: It's really different than basketball. The game is longer. It's 90 minutes long without counting the additional time they can add to it. I just miss it.

Q: Do you ever see the soccer team here and think about running out there?

A: I have a couple friends that play soccer over here. They're really cool people. Sometimes we play around.

Q: In football, could you try to placekick?

A: Football, the only thing I do with them is running. I don't play football.

Q: Have you ever kicked a football?

A: I never tried. That would be interesting.

Lining up a 6'10" kicker would be interesting.  Lining up a 6'10" lineman to rush the kicker might really be interesting.

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