Rising Stars: Tim Howell and Casey Poe Prepare for Another Season on the Court

Ridley Eastland-Fruit, Web Editor

Whitman basketball preseason All-Americans Tim Howell and Casey Poe, of the men’s and women’s teams respectively, sat down with The Wire to talk about their upcoming senior seasons. Both teams are looking to repeat their deep runs into the NCAA tournament last year.

Tim Howell

Q: You are a preseason All-American. What does that award mean to you at this point in your career?

A: Individual accolades, they’re nice to get–it’s nice to get recognized on a national level–but I feel like it’s not the main premise of the team goal, and that’s what I want to push forward. It’s nice to receive that, but ultimately I want to win a national championship, and whatever I can do to help my team to get that, that’s all that really matters at this point. But it is nice to be recognized.

Q: Your season has been cut short the last two years and now you are in your last year. How does this being your senior year change how you look at the season?

A: There’s a sense of urgency to go out and play my heart out each and every day I’m on the court because I won’t ever have this opportunity to play on a collegiate level again. But each year is the same goal: to win a national championship. Obviously with the season being cut short it sucks to have it all end, but I guess [there’s] that sense of urgency to go out there and try to win as many games as possible and ultimately bring it home. There’s the same motivation as the previous years.

Q: Do you feel like you have a big leadership role as a senior? What does leadership look like on the team?

A: Leadership looks like a lot of different things on our team. We don’t have one defined leader. I can learn something from a freshman on my team. To be honest everyone is truly really diverse in that sense, different forms of leadership. Some guys lead vocally, some guys lead in the community, some guys lead by example. So yeah, I think me being a senior, I’m just another one of those leaders we have on the team that guys can look up to.

Q: You have talked about the awards and how they are nice, but you have gotten your fair number, especially in the last two years and this year as well. Do you feel the pressure that comes with the attention you get? How do you deal with it?

A: Sometimes, I try to ignore it. Yeah I know I have a lot of attention, the spotlight is on me, but I just think with all the awards and all the attention that’s focused on me, I guess it just drives me more to stay focused on that team goal and not get distracted and lost in all the hype. I think it motivates me to work even harder and to grind more because again, ultimate goal–I don’t have a national title under my belt. I have a conference title, which is great, but I don’t have that national title and that’s one thing that I’m missing.

Q: There is pressure not just on you but on the team as well. You are pegged Number 1 in the D3hoops.com national preseason rankings. How does the team feel about that?

A: It doesn’t change the preparation at all, we just know we’ve got to bring it. Any given night, whether we’re playing a ranked team or not a ranked team, or one with past history, doesn’t matter. Everyone’s going to be coming for us, we’re number one in the nation. We have to just bring it and have that same tenacity each and every time we step on the floor for practice and games. It’s the same preparation, doesn’t really change much.

Q: What should we be most excited for this season?

A: Getting a new look at the new guys; we have some good new freshman that are stepping up. And yeah, everyone’s just getting better each and every day, so definitely just seeing guys improving their game and hopefully we can go out there and make something happen, and having another great year like we’ve had in the past.

Casey Poe

Q: You got Preseason All-American–congrats! What does that award in itself mean to you?

A: It means to me that they’re looking at me for All-American. I got preseason, I want to get postseason All-American. It means I have a lot of potential, and that there’s a lot expected of me, but it makes me excited for this season. All-American is actually one of my goals. After I got here, after meeting some All-Americans, I wanted to be All-American, so getting preseason [All-American] is pretty cool. It puts pressure on me, but it’s good pressure, like [it’s] exciting. I know they’re looking at me, I just need to prove myself so I can get this postseason All-American.

Q: It is your senior year, your last year. How does that change how you think about or prepare for the season?

A: I don’t have another year. It totally changes. I was actually thinking about this last night, how I’ve thought about my basketball career. I always thought if something went wrong or something wasn’t going right, ‘Oh, I have next year.’ But I’ve run out of years. It makes everything more intense for me. I have no other year to fall back on. This is my last year, I have to leave it all on the court to make my mark.

Q: What does leadership look like on the team?

A: I see leadership throughout the grades, definitely. There are individual leaders, people who lead by example. I consider myself as one of the leaders, [alongside] the other seniors on the team. But I also see underclassmen leaders who I can see grow into the role.

Q: How are the new players looking? What is their role going to be?

A: They’re going to be pretty good, actually. We have a point guard, a shooter, a 3 and a 4, so they’re spread out on the court. There’s definitely people who stand out, like Taylor [Chambers]. She’s going to be a great point guard for Whitman in the years to come. They’ve all been working really hard at practice and I’m really excited about how they’ll grow throughout the season.

Q: You went pretty far last year and you were rated sixth this year in the D3hoops.com preseason rankings. That must put some pressure on the team.

A: Oh, we’re excited. Our team saying this year is “unfinished business” because we want to get to the Final Four; we want to make it to the championship round. We only made it to the Elite Eight and last year our phrase was “on a mission.” We got far but we didn’t get our mission, so this year we have unfinished business. We have a target on our back, but that hasn’t stopped us before. We’re ready to prove ourselves and I’m so excited for season.

Q: Were you surprised last year with how far you went? Because you weren’t exactly expected to reach that level.

A: No, I wasn’t surprised–I mean, I really wanted to go far. Before I came to Whitman, the team before my freshman year went to the Final Four and so after that, every time alumni or old people or fans came to watch basketball games, they always brought up that team. And when prospies come the folders and pictures that get handed out are of that team. There’s a fire in me and in the other seniors that we just want to beat that team already so that people can stop talking about them. I was actually kind of disappointed we ended at the Elite Eight, I wanted to go farther. We had a pretty young team my freshman and sophomore year, and then finally junior year I think we were mature enough to get far, so it wasn’t that surprising. I think we were picked behind George Fix and UPS in our conference [last year], but it felt so good beating them.

Q: What should we look forward to seeing this year?

A: Oh I don’t know, we’re a different team, I know we lost two but gained four. I think we have a great team this year and it’s going to be a great year just in how we play. I think some people will step up and some people will stand out.