Timeout with… Paulius Zalys ’19

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Paulius Zalys ’19 spots up from three point range. (Photo by Hana Isihara ’17)

Katelyn Arnold

Katelyn Arnold: Despite the loss to Drexel, you had a significant contribution with 16 points while shooting 4-7 from the three, as well as adding four rebounds and an assist. Can you tell me what it was like to have that sort of impact on the team’s performance?

Paulius Zalys: It feels great. Especially this year is way better from the start than last year. A lot of young guys are playing well. Nick [Lindner] and Matt [Klinewski] are leading us as well. It feels great to contribute to the team. As long as we win, I don’t really care how I play. But it’s fun to contribute more.

KA: Now, sitting at 3-4 on the year, what does the team need to do to be successful moving forward?

PZ: We just need to play our game. Usually in the second half, we tend to slow down and and not really move the ball and play like we play in the first half, for example, in most of the games. I think that’s the biggest thing. And just getting comfortable with the young guys because we’re a really young team with four sophomores and seven freshmen. That’s a big one.

KA: What are you looking to improve upon in your own performance as you move deeper into the season?

PZ: Like I mentioned, just being more confident and shooting more. Being more aggressive offensively and defensively.

KA: So, you kind of touched on this, but how has this season compared to last season?

PZ: More wins. The team’s closer on the court and the young players are playing more confident and playing better than last year.

KA: You’ve certainly stepped into a bigger role than the role you had in your freshman season, how has that transition gone?

PZ: It’s been tough. Expectations are high, but just like this year and last year we have great leaders on and off the court with the seniors and the juniors so that helps a lot. They try to keep me confident and playing my game.

KA: A bit more about you, what has been your favorite basketball moment at Lafayette?

PZ: Last year, obviously the first collegiate game against George Washington. I’ll remember that forever. This year, playing Villanova, the national champions, at their place, in their home opener. That was really cool.

KA: Since you’re from Lithuania, how have you found that basketball in the U.S. compares with basketball at home?

PZ: Well, the basketball in the U.S. compared to basketball in Europe is way more athletic, faster, more individual skills come out because you have to play more 1-on-1 instead of moving the ball. Although, here at Lafayette, you move the ball a lot and play off other people. In general, in the U.S. it’s more of individual skills instead of a team game.

KA: If you could bring one thing from Lithuania to the U.S., what would it be?

PZ: I would bring my mom’s food, I would bring my homemade food.

KA: Is there something specific?

PZ: Nothing specific. Whatever she makes, I eat it. I really like it.

KA: Other than basketball, what’s your plan for the interim period?

PZ: Basketball. Still basketball to me. That’s all you have. No one is here so it’s just you and the basketball team and practices for us. That’s all we do.

KA: Do you have any superstitions or pregame rituals?

PZ: Not really. I take a long nap, might do homework.

KA: Favorite movie?

PZ: He Got Game.

KA: What’s something funny your coach has said to you?

PZ: One of the first things [coach Fran O’Hanlon] asked me during my first college practice was, “If you were accused of being coached by us would there be any evidence to prove that?” I was really confused.

KA: Favorite class you’ve taken?

PZ: Any econ class. That’s what I really enjoy reading about. Not necessarily what I’m good at, but something I enjoy reading about.

KA: One thing most people don’t know about you?

PZ: I might be funny, even though I come out as shy and don’t really look like I’m social. But I’m funny once you know me.