June 24, 2008
Gatens proud of his hometown
Matt Gatens is too young to remember the Flood of 1993, but he will certainly remember the Flood of 2008 and what it did to his hometown. What he will probably remember most isn't the damage done, but the way his home community came together as one to help each other in a time of need. He talks about the flood, finally being a Hawkeye (officially), and much more.
Q: What has life been like around here the last couple of weeks?
GATENS: It has been pretty wild. I was actually expecting it to be a lot worse given what they were saying. It was just incredible to see the community come together the way it did with all of the sandbagging and everything. It is one of the reason I love it here because of the way we came together. Our whole team went down there and helped out with the sandbagging. The city took a big hit, but it will recover.
Q: You grew up here, so it has to be a surreal experience to see places you grew up with going underwater, places like the Wig and Pen and others.
GATENS: The Wig and Pen is one of my favorite places and it will hurt to be without it for a while. Obviously I don't remember 1993 because I was too young at the time, but something like this really hits home because this is my hometown and it is tough to see.
Q: Did you have to explain to some of the new guys who just got here how bad this flood really was for the community?
GATENS: Yeah, Aaron (Fuller) comes here from Arizona probably wondering what rain is. A couple of the guys went home for a week because Carver was closed. I don't think the guys are too scared by it and they know this is a good place and it will get back to normal.
Q: Even though this was a tough situation, you had to have a great deal of pride in your hometown and the way they responded.
GATENS: It was just incredible to see the number of people who came out from all over the area to help with sandbagging. It's not easy work, but when you city is at risk and you need to do something, you feel a real sense of duty to do something to help.
Q: You guys have been able to do a few pickup games together as a team. What has it been like thus far?
GATENS: I have been pretty impressed with all the new faces. I think we are meshing pretty well in our morning workouts and playing together. It will take time and it won't happen overnight with six new guys, plus Jarryd is almost like a new guy playing less than half the year last season. Right now we are just trying to get to know each other better off the court and once that happens the on the court relationships will start to happen.
Q: You committed to Iowa quite a long time ago. Is it finally starting to sink in that you are finally really here?
GATENS: I don't know if it will really sink in until the first practice or when I walk out to Carver for the very first game. We started summer classes, so that sort of hit me. (laugh) I know one thing, I am looking forward to it.
Q: Even though you were not on the team last year, you are very close to the program. Tony Freeman has left the program this spring. How do you guys make up for that loss?
GATENS: I have been around for here for a while. Several of the guys that were here when I committed are gone now, so it is always going to be a new group of guys every year. We are coming together and we have bunch of guys that really want to be here. We are going to be a team together and we will fight through the loss of Tony. You never want to see one of your top scorers leave, but we will make up for it. I think we have a great group of guys that want to work hard and get better.
Q: Then you guys have the situation where your teammate, Jake Kelly, loses his mother, who was close to the team.
GATENS: That was just a terrible situation. Our thoughts and prayers went out to him. He is actually doing pretty well and his spirits are high. I don't know how he is doing it, but he is handling it well and he has been playing great. We are just trying to help him get things back to normal for him, but it is really tough.
Q: You played a lot of AAU ball during the summer and traveled a lot during those months. Do you miss it at all?
GATENS: I do miss that. That was a great time in my life traveling for weeks at a time with guys that you really love playing with. It is something that I will treasure forever.
Q: You are the only native Iowan on the roster this year. Do you carry some sort of honor with that?
GATENS: Honestly, I didn't know that until you told me. I guess if they want me to carry it
Q: Like Bru, Jeff, and Adam did being a native Iowan playing for Iowa and what that means.
GATENS: Yeah. I think you have to represent the state if you are kid from the state of Iowa. But, it doesn't matter where you are from because it is all about winning games. But, it is always nice for the fans and to keep kids in-state and we want them to come here. We are going to try and get them in the future and I look forward to it.
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