Former San Benito Haybaler Kyle Sharp goes up for a dunk in a

Andrew Matheson Hollister Former San Benito Haybaler Kyle Sharp
returned to the Golden State with the University of Montana
Grizzlies Monday for their game against the Santa Clara Broncos at
the Leavey Center. The Hollister Free Lance was able to catch up
with the junior before the game to discuss basketball, obstacles
and playing at the college level.
Andrew Matheson


Former San Benito Haybaler Kyle Sharp returned to the Golden State with the University of Montana Grizzlies Monday for their game against the Santa Clara Broncos at the Leavey Center.

The Hollister Free Lance was able to catch up with the junior before the game to discuss basketball, obstacles and playing at the college level.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Sharp, who was a two-time Tri-County Athletic League MVP, has doubled his minutes this year and is experiencing his best season for the Grizz to date.

Despite finals week, Sharp was able to speak with the Free Lance. Here’s what transpired:

FL: So, Kyle, you’re in your third year at Missoula. How’s it going so far?

KS: It’s going good. We just finished off the first semester and it’s been going good.

FL: Are you passing?

KS: Yes, passing. Passing everything. Getting through school and trying to get that degree.

FL: What are you majoring in?

KS: Right now, I’m a business major … I’ve declared as accounting, but I still haven’t figured out what I want to do with it.

FL: All right, tell us how much easier your basketball schedule has become now that you’re in your third year?

KS: It gets kind of difficult sometimes, especially this week with finals … I’m getting kind of used to it. It’s my third year doing it. You just have to know how to balance your time.

FL: What about your game?

KS: The pace of the game has gotten easier. When I first came in, it was a difficult pace transitioning from high school to college. It’s tough to get used to … Over the last couple of years, slowly but surely, I’m getting used to playing.

FL: The game was a different pace, was it?

KS: Yeah, definitely. In high school, I was able to play more and not be as tired. In college, I play four to five minutes and I’d be just drained. You just get tired real fast.

FL: Was it mostly just an adrenaline rush?

KS: It’s faster, but most people in college don’t play for more than 25 minutes a game … So it’s more of a spurt of four to five minutes … Those four to five minutes are definitely harder. You have to be stronger and be able to do some things against some big-time players.

FL: What was the biggest obstacle you faced that you feel you’ve overcome?

KS: I’ve overcome the transition from high school to college. When you’re on your own, you have to be very responsible. In high school, I had my family on top of me. In college, coaches expect you to do well in school, teachers expect you to be in class. In college, you’re on your own.

FL: What about your game? What obstacles have you overcome there?

KS: The conditioning was a part of it. Just improving your skills. Every player is trying to be the best player they can be. The next year you could not be playing and that’s just the way it goes. You have to keep on top of it.

FL: I noticed that you’ve doubled your minutes this season since last. Do you feel like you’ve raised your game?

KS: The last year we had a lot of post players. This year, I’m a junior. I’m more ready for the game and the coach is giving me a chance to play … When I came in at the beginning of the year, he told me I had done a lot to improve my game and he’d reward me with more minutes.

FL: You went to March Madness your freshmen year. There are five players remaining from that team, including yourself. How important is it for you and your team to make it back?

KS: We all want to go back. All of our memories from college will include that … We always talk about it with the new guys to get motivated … I’ve only got two more years, so it’d be exciting to get back.

FL: How difficult is it to relay what you went through at March Madness to someone who’s never experienced it?

KS: It’s tough to relay the atmosphere. But obviously, if you’re a college basketball player, you know of March Madness … You can tell them how it’s gonna take a lot of practice, but you need to show them … It’s tough for them to picture it in their minds … but all of us are motivated … We can still do it and we still have a great team to make it this year.

FL: I assume you were wide-eyed the first time you were at March Madness?

KS: I took everything in. I don’t know how to explain it … It was very exciting for me … It was the best experience of my life … It’s definitely something I want to do again.

FL: Is there an urge to return and experience it as a veteran, and not perhaps someone who’s getting their feet wet?

KS: When I first went there, I wasn’t the same type of player I am today … I want to get in there and play significant minutes and help my team win.

FL: How do you think your performance is so far this season?

KS: I’m doing pretty good. My role on the team is to come off the bench and give good energy, rebounds … We’re trying to improve the team and I’m trying to help my team win.

FL: What do you think is one strength and one weakness to your game?

KS: One weakness that I have is that I’m not as big of a scoring threat as I could be. One of my strengths is that I give mismatches … I’m a good defender and rebounder. I haven’t played much ‘3’ this year, but even at the ‘4,’ I’m able to draw my guy out to the perimeter.

FL: You play Santa Clara on Monday, but you have Pacific Saturday. Is it difficult to look past Pacific?

KS: It gets difficult because I’m excited to play Santa Clara. It’s very exciting to go home and see everybody … But I just got to stay focused, one game at a time. I know that’s a cliche, but that’s how you’ve got to think about it.

FL: I have yet to see a Montana-Santa Clara game. Can you describe the atmosphere and describe how you feel playing in that game?

KS: It’s like playing at home when I was in high school. You see everybody in the stands and you want to play well … The one thing I have to remember is that I’m playing for Montana and I’m not in high school … I want my team to win, but the atmosphere is exciting … I’m hoping to get a big crowd, with fans who come to see me and who come to see the team and fans for Santa Clara. It’d be fun to see a big crowd.

FL: Is it a “home” game for you?

KS: It’s the closest for me for a home game … It’s exciting when I get to be close to home.

FL: Is there any pressure to perform well?

KS: I try to relax by just playing the game like it’s any other game … But in the back of my mind, I want to show everything that I can do. Once the game gets going, I’m more relaxed and am able to play … But I need to help my team win first.

FL: Do you still keep in contact with your high school or local coaches? Do they give you any advice?

KS: My high school coach, David Kaplansky, I talk to him a bunch … He wants to know how I’m doing. I can talk to him about plays that we run because he understands that type of stuff … He’s been there when he played in college.

FL: Any goals for Monday’s game against Santa Clara?

KS: I just want to play hard and I would like to win … I would like to play well in front of everybody … I don’t really have any goals. I’d like to play hard and see everybody … It reminds me of my high school days. The type of fans that were at Hollister.

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