Feb. 5, 1998
T.J. Caouette Question and Answer
Q. - How did you begin playing basketball and who introduced you to the sport?
A. - My father first showed me the game of basketball. I started playing in the backyard just like every other kid. I enjoyed it, took it up and just kept playing. Basketball started off as a way of life. That is what I liked to do, so I did it. It became a hobby once I started playing other sports in high school. Now that I have come to Villanova though, it has become a way of life again. When you play at this level though, you accept the time committment and hard work that goes with it.
Q. - What was the high school basketball experience like for you, being named Maine's Mr. Basketball and being recruited by many big-time schools?
A. - The experience was overwhelming. I have never experienced anything like it before. Basketball just reached a different level. I never experienced recruiting like I did beginning at the Nike Camp. That is when I first got noticed. The phones started to ring off the hook, and we even had to get a new line. That is when I knew I had to start narrow down my choices and go on from there. The biggest thing I learned from the whole experience was not to let others influence you.
Q. - What schools other than Villanova were on your list and why did you choose the Wildcats?
A. - I chose Villanova over other schools like Vanderbilt, Boston College, Maryland and Notre Dame. I liked Villanova because it is a lot like my hometown. The area and the people around the area are really nice. I didn't want to go to a really big school. Plus, Villanova had the best combination of academics and basketball. It was the perfect fit for me.
Q. - Who has made the biggest impact on you as a basketball player and as a person?
A. - I would have to say that there are three people who have had a big impact on my life. They would be my high school coach Dave Pullen and my parents. Coach Pullen helped me to get where I am now. He dealt with my recruiting, helped me look through all of the schools and helped me weigh my options. My parents have been great too, because they never pushed me to do anything. If I didn't want to play I didn't have to. I could make my own decisions.
Q. - What is your biggest highlight so far as a basketball player at Villanova?
A. - As far as the team goes, my biggest highlight was winning the Big East title. Individually, it had to be playing in the NCAA Tournament. I always grew up watching it as a kid. To be in it was something special. You can't be nervous because you don't have time to. Truthfully I can't remember exactly how I felt when I walked out there for the first time. It is a different feeling though because it is a different game. Everybody has to step it up a level because if you don't and you lose, you are out.
Q. - How would you summarize your first one and a half seasons at Villanova?
A. - Up and down, but that is how it is for a lot of players at the beginning. There will always be ups and downs. You just have to work to be consistent. The team we had last year was great. It was unbelievable to be a part of that. I learned a lot from the older players like Jay (Jason Lawson), Alvin (Williams) and Chuck (Kornegay). They played hard all the time and had a great attitude on and off the court. They are great people and that rubs off on you.
Q. - What aspect of basketball makes the sport special to you?
A. - The competition is what makes it special. I never accepted losing growing up and I don't accept it now. It doesn't even have to be in basketball though. I hate losing even in pool or ping pong. That is what keeps you going hard all the time. The thrill of competition.
Q. - How has the adjustment been from the high school to the college level?
A. - It has been hard. I can't say it's been easy. To go from being the man in high school to just a piece of a group in college is difficult. I have just had to learn to accept it. There are many players at this level that are bigger, stronger and quicker. You just have to keep the whole situation in perspective. We have to play together to win games because one person can't do it on their own.
Q. - What are you looking to accomplish as a basketball player before you leave Villanova?
A. - I am not an individual type of player. I work a lot better through the framework of the offense. Individual honors are tough because there are a lot of players who are more skilled at this level. If we win, I am happy. As far as goals, we are just looking to get back on track right now. I would love to be Big East Champions again, before I leave Villanova. We just have to all get on the same page, and play together.
Q. - In addition to being a good basketball player, you are also a gifted golfer. When did you start golfing, and which sport did you pick up quicker?
A. - I picked up golf when I picked up basketball, just about the time I started to walk. I would always tag along with my father. When he came home from work, we would go play golf. We only lived about a mile and a half from a golf course, so that also helped. I think I picked up golf quicker than I did basketball. I could always shoot the basketball, but I was just like any other kid in that I started getting better once I got taller. Both sports came naturally to me, but like in anything, you have to work hard to be good.