Wave of the Week with Riley Conroy

Jonathan Harvey and Jordan Figueredo

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The Hullabaloo: So how is the team? How do you like everything so far?

Riley Conroy: Coming in it was definitely a new experience as a freshman. I love these guys and really feel like we’ve become a family and it’s really important that we’re all close and stay close, and I think we’ve really accomplished that even though we haven’t had much time. I feel like it’s rare to have a group of guys come together so quickly.

Hull: The sophomore bunch seems like a really close group of guys, have you been welcome to that? How’s the team chemistry?

Conroy: Definitely, I think its cool how the sophomore group came in with such a large group of guys and they have really incorporated the four freshmen really well as well as the upperclassman. It’s nice to have someone in the middle and they have brought everyone with them. It’s nice to have a group of guys to bring both sides, the upperclassman and the underclassman, together as one.

Hull: What do you think you can bring to the team that the other freshmen might not be able to contribute right away? 

Conroy: Since my dad is the coach, I have been around the program longer than the other freshman. I have been watching my dad coach ever since I was born. It’s been a unique opportunity to go from watching it to now doing it and just experiences that I have had throughout the years on how my dad wants things to be done, how I know how basketball is supposed to be done, and it’s been nice to be able to help them out because I’m not really a freshman in the sense of everything being new, I have experienced a lot of what they are going through already just because my dad is the coach.

Hull: Having your dad be the coach, what specifically do you think you have a leg up with?

Conroy: More of how basketball works and how a college basketball player needs to handle themselves and how a team can come together. I’ve seen him coach many teams and I’ve seen teams that have failed and teams that have come together, I’ve seen a good mix throughout the college basketball spectrum and it’s nice to be able to finally go through it and I want give it 100 percent and do whatever I can do to help the team be the best that we can be.

Hull: Do you think you have to prove yourself to people who think you might have been recruited for maybe not the right reasons?

Conroy: I definitely feel in a personal view that I had a chip on my shoulder and needed to prove myself but these guys welcomed me right away and let me know that that wasn’t the case and we were all going to be one family and it’s kind of how its been. It’s been awesome because I don’t feel like someone different; I feel like a part of this team, it’s been really special. I have been able to have a father/son relationship as well as a coach/player relationship, which has been really different.

Hull: Seems like you’ve gotten a lot of love from the older players, who specifically has taken you under their wing?

Conroy: Both the seniors Jay Hook and Tre Drye as well as juniors like Lou Dabney and it’s been kind of cool because I knew them before I actually became a player from being around the team with my dad and now it’s kind of awesome to open up a newer kind of relationship on a teammate spectrum.

Hull: So many great guards on this team, you have Stark and Mack coming back and Dabney. Where do you think you’re going to fit in with that rotation? Or just being able to learn from them?

Conroy: That is what I’m mostly looking forward to, just being able to learn from them because they all bring something different and at the same time they are all very good in their own respects and it’s kind of cool to be able to watch them and kind of almost mimic what they do because they all have something unique to offer but they are all very good. My own role will hopefully be whatever the team needs me to be, whether that means getting everyone better in practice or actually doing something in the game, it just depends on what the team needs and I’m ready to do that.

Hull: There has been some great head coach and son pairing, especially with Doug McDermott. What do you think about that in the long run, you and your dad kind of doing this for a few more years?

Conroy: Honestly, we had a big discussion on the fact that it was going to be new for both of us and it has been really good so far, really nothing as gone wrong. We’ve both figured out when to be father and son and when to be coach and player. It’s actually been really good, I’ve improved greatly since I’ve been here and I think it goes to credit my dad and myself for not knowing what to expect but kind of openly accepting that this is something really special and we should value it. Hopefully it will turn out to be the best, like McDermott and his dad they figured it out and hopefully we can do the same.

Hull: Have you had any coaching from your dad as a kid since he has always been coaching at a higher level?

Conroy: Ever since he was a college basketball coach he really wasn’t allowed to coach me because it would be a violation so on my own teams I’ve always had a different coach so I was really looking forward to having him as my own coach and it’s been really unique.

Hull: Does he push you harder in practice to sort of prove to the other players that you are not to be treated any differently than them?

Conroy: I’m not really sure that he wants to make a point but I definitely know that he knows how much I can take. With every player you have to figure out what they can and can’t take and he already knew that with me coming in so he knew he could push me a certain way and I think he’s done a good job of doing so.

Hull: Did you ever have a moment in high school or at any other level where your father said something to the coach saying on how to use you and your talents?

Conroy: No, actually he made a very strong point to never do that and it kind of agitated me at some points because I wanted his input but I value it now that he really wanted to stay away and not get into that because he wanted me to figure it out for myself so that I could truly figure out the relationship between the coach and the player. Now I really value it because he can’t be doing that now, because he’s coaching me. There is no outside source telling him how to be coaching me because it’s him.

Hull: Did he push you to play [basketball] as a kid?

Conroy: No, growing up I actually played everything from soccer, baseball, football, to basketball – I really played everything. He always told me if I didn’t want to play basketball I didn’t have to, he wanted me to do what I wanted to do. That actually made it really nice, I was able to fall in love with basketball without someone pushing me to do it.

Hull: What’s the biggest difference between head coach Conroy to dad?

Conroy: It’s still a learning process and I haven’t figured it out completely but I think we both kind of know when we walk on the court it’s going to be a little different. There have been a few times at the house coming off practice it’s been really funny and at practice he’ll sometimes make a comment, its been really funny some of the jokes he has and sometimes I’ll look down and be like you’re my dad too and it’s just kind of funny. The other players I think really like it too because it’s something different.

Hull: Are you new to New Orleans?

Conroy: No, I’ve lived here since my freshman year of high school.

Hull: What’s your favorite part about the city?

Conroy: Definitely the culture, there’s nowhere else in the country that’s so diverse and unique. I’ve lived seven different places and this is by far my favorite.

Hull: Which places have you lived?

Conroy: Four cities in South Carolina – Myrtle Beach, Greenville, Florence, and Charleston. Charleston was my most recent and then Tulsa, Oklahoma and Knoxville, Tennessee.

Hull: What is your favorite restaurant in New Orleans?

Conroy: Probably Katie’s.

Hull: Why? What do they have there that you like?

Conroy: I actually know the owner and he always has something new for me. I just love the burgers and the Alfredo crawfish pasta. You can create you own but I always get the Alfredo crawfish.

Hull: Quick prediction for this year, what do you expect from this team?

Conroy: I expect to kind of shock some people. I know we don’t pay attention to expectations but I think we have kind of out done ourselves with how much we’ve improved since the first day of practice. I really just think it’s going to keep going forward and we are really going to have the chance to turn some heads.