While the 6-7 207 Victor Rudd is still undergoing the natural learning curve of a newcomer, his 15-point performance in just 13 minutes of play wasn’t only a career-high showed a glimpse of his talents on both ends of the court.
“It is a transition,” Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek acknowledged. “And in Vic’s case, he was on the sideline for the better part of three months. That has been one of our team’s challenges early in the season, is just having some level of continuity in practice.
Not only was the forward the leading scorer for the maroon and gold today, he was extremely efficient converting 6 of his 7 shots, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. Nonetheless, Rudd knows that not every game at this level will be a walk in the park, scoring wise, like it was during his prep career.
How easy was it to get off his shot in high school?
“Effortless,” Rudd quickly replied. “My first couple of games (at ASU), I was just trying to get my shot off. I wasn’t even trying to make it, just get my shot off. Coach Sendek told me ‘calm down. Let it come to you’ and that’s what I did today, and it went down. It felt good to finally get into rhythm. I think it’s just confidence.”
Rudd admitted that he initially thought that he could earn playing time only if he scored, but realizes now that this isn’t the case, particularly when he’s following the lead of a teammate renowned for his hustle play.
“I can do other things like dive on the floor ball for loose balls,” Rudd explained, “rebounding and contesting shots. I always look at Jamelle (McMillan) in practice and he will tell me straight up what I need to do and how I need to do it.”
The freshman mentioned that the coaching staff is looking for him to provide intensity on defense and in rebounding, as they know he can score. “If I have an open shot I can take it,” Rudd commented. “Usually when I first get into a game I take a shot. I try not to do it, but I ended up doing it today because the shot clock was winding down. Otherwise I just wait for that first open shot and if there’s another one I’ll take it.”
Rudd admitted that conditioning has been a challenge for him due to lack of practice, although the forward feels that this issue is largely behind him. Another adjustment has been playing with and against higher caliber of players, which is again part of that shift from the high school to the college level.
The first three years of high school Rudd scored generally at will. In his senior year at powerhouse Findlay Prep he averaged 16 points a game which according to him was his lowest output ever. Thus, playing in a frame of a team isn’t foreign to him. However, he admitted that it was tough having just one field goal in the five games he played prior to Delaware State.
“It was hard to handle, but now I know I can wait my time and just play,” Rudd pointed out. “Everybody back home wants me to score and I just have to tell them ‘wait. It will happen one day.’ So they’ll be happy about this game.”
Today, Rudd made his first three-point basket of the season, and overall made three of his four attempts from that distance. Yet, he believes he got worse in this area at the college level. “In high school I would just throw it up and it went in,” Rudd recalled. “I haven’t been shooting as much as I have in high school; I lived in the gym (back then). Because of schoolwork (at ASU) it causes me to be in the study hall more than being in the gym.
“But in the (winter break) I have a chance to get off 500, 600 shots (each practice) and get my shot back to where it needs to be. Even the fans when I go into the game say ‘get up a three’. I guess they saw me play in high school. I was listening to that at first but now I just play. This is college and you can’t go out there and score 30, 40 points every night.”
It’s no secret that the Pac-10 has taken its lumps in non-conference play this season and for the first time in decades there are no teams from that league ranked in the nation’s Top-25. However, if there is anyone that dismisses the notion that the Pac-10 will be down this year is Rudd, despite some of his friends who are ready to crown him the conference’s freshman of the year.
“I’m not even looking at that right now,” Rudd said of that honor. “I’m just trying to play, trying to win. Derrick Williams and Tyler Honeycutt are from L.A. too and they (Rudd’s friends) want me to outscore them. I’m just trying to play the game. Since the games started I’m just playing team basketball…I don’t need to score unless I have the chance to do so. I’m just trying to play and stay on the floor.
“Pac-10 is tough, no matter what anybody says, but I’ll be ready for that.”