Big East Hoop 24/7 recently caught up with former Boston College stand-out Malcolm Huckaby for some thoughts regarding his Big East playing days. Great responses! And a bonus quote from Coach Jim O’Brien and Bill Curley as well. Have a read….
BEH 24/7: What is your favorite moment from your playing days in the Big East?
Malcolm: My favorite Big East moment, although it was on a sad note – Mrs. O’Brien passed away right before the Big East tournament – was walking into Madison Square Garden. As a kid you dream of playing there. There’s so much history. I still say it was the best tournament atmosphere, period. My second favorite would be my game vs. Georgetown sophomore season. It was a double OT win, I had 34 points and played 50 minutes. I wish I could run like that again…it’s difficult to stand that long now.
BEH 24/7: Between basketball & broadcasting which do you feel you’ve had to work harder at?
Malcolm: Both are the same. All your work goes in prior to the game. Like preparing for the season you get in shape, shoot jumpers, etc. then in the game you must study the opponent. Same as broadcasting. You prep and study, then each game prep is different because each opponent is different. But the general approach is the same. You prepare as hard and smart as you can pre-game then the game becomes easy because you put in all that work and preparation prior.
BEH 24/7: Who were the top 5 guys you had to guard in your Big East days?
Malcolm: Kerry Kittles was a tough/nightmare match up for me. I remember him @ Villanova splitting a screen (we tried to trap with Bill Curley) and taking off for a monster dunk. He was deceptively strong and was lethal in the open court. Red Autry my freshman and sophomore year gave me the business. Typical big guard that was a handful to keep out of the lane. I just called a Syracuse game, and me and him laughed about great battles. He along with Dickey Simpkins/Scott Burrell/Arturas Karnisovas of Seton Hall are big reasons why I lived in the weight room my freshman and sophomore year.
BEH 24/7: Who was the most influential person that got you where you are today?
Malcolm: My Mom and Dad, who will celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary in March. They are the most influential people in my life, period. They taught me to have faith and lean on God ever since I was born. I thank God every morning for them.
BEH 24/7: Do you keep in contact with any former teammates or guys you competed against?
Malcolm: I see all the guys from BC: Bill Curley, Gerrod Abram, Howard Eisley, Danya Abrams, etc. through social media or when I travel to cities for ESPN. Also, I see guys like Mike Hopkins, Red Autry, Scott Burrell, Steve Pikiell, etc. when I call games. They’re all coaching but love sharing old Big East stories.
BEH 24/7: How did your recruitment break down?
Malcolm: I was recruited by pretty much all Big East schools. I also was drafted by the Houston Astros in the MLB draft out of High School. So I had thoughts of maybe playing baseball, but for hoops I wanted to play in the Big East. Michael Adams’ brother Joe Adams was one of my High School coaches. So Mike would play with me during All Star break or during the summer. When I came to BC for a visit, Dana Barros went off vs. Syracuse and Sherman Douglas. I was hooked.
I also want to add that Jim O’Brien and in particular Mrs. O’Brien were big reasons that I came to BC. I still speak with Coach weekly and he whoops me on golf course with no mercy. My mom was very concerned, as most Moms are, about life after basketball. OB made us go through a life skills program. John Peck (R.I.P.) who just passed recently talked to us about preparing for life after basketball. I realized how important this experience was when I suffered a career ending ankle injury. I wish every program would do even more to help prepare these young men for life after basketball. Dr. Ferna Phillips who was head of academic resources for student athletes was also instrumental in myself and many other BC student athletes graduating. BC did and still does do a great job making sure student athletes graduate.
BEH 24/7: Are you able to appreciate all of your accomplishments looking back after all of these years?
Malcolm: The reality is that 4 years, or however many years you’re fortunate to play, goes by fast. But life goes on and as my father always told me, use basketball and not the other way around.
BEH 24/7: Who are some of the teams and players from smaller conferences that could make some noise in March?
Malcolm: I like San Diego State who I’m calling tonight. They are one of the top defensive teams in the country. Currently, 2nd in the NCAA in field goal percentage, opponents shoot below 40%, they have length at every position, and Steve Fisher is one of the best in the business. He has gone 6 straight years to the NCAA tourney. I also love what Ed Cooley does. Although it’s not a small conference, I’m biased because I know Ed personally but think he’s underrated as an X and O guy. Yes he can recruit but I’ve called PC games and he does a great job teaching, with player development and in-game adjustments. He learned from another great Coach in Al Skinner.
BEH 24/7: Looking back after all of these years how much do you admire Jim O’Brien in relation to losing his wife while still being a Dad & trying to coach your team?
Malcolm: I still get emotional. Being a Dad now of 2 little girls and 2 young boys, I can’t imagine it. Right before the Big East Tourney. I still remember her face at games rooting for us to win, with her 2 young daughters at games. The girls used to be at practices my sophomore year after Mrs. O’Brien passed. Simply put she was a great lady. It’s just emotional still but I know she’s smiling down from heaven watching both now young ladies living life. Also want to add that my wife Pam (have to give her some love) and I get emotional when we go out to dinner, or speak with OB. Now as the parents of 4 young children we can’t imagine how difficult it would be without having both of us to support each other. It was difficult for Coach because he was raising 2 young daughters while trying to coach all of us young men at the same time. It was a crazy balancing act and he managed it well. Again, just so difficult being a college coach in a major conference and being a Dad explaining/raising two kids without Mrs. OB. Amazing how he did and both Erin and Amy now have grown into incredible young ladies and OB now is a Grandparent and has so much patience with them.
BEH 24/7: Do you think the quality of coaching has improved since your playing days?
Malcolm: Evolved is the word I’d use. More technology and rule changes. When I played you could hand check, bump and chuck players coming through the lane. I think my sophomore year the Big East went to 6 fouls because it was so physical. Now you can’t touch guys. I think skill and development was the same in terms of Xs and Os but with training and technology. Coaches can send scouting reports and workouts to players iPads, etc. and when I played we had sky pagers and no cell phones.
Bonus quote from Coach Jim O’Brien and Bill Curley
BEH 24/7: What were some of the positive traits that Malcolm brought to the program on and off the court?
Coach OB: ” I loved coaching Malcolm. He was a tough kid; very good defender ; all around good player ; great teammate; most importantly, he allowed himself to be coached. His growth from college freshman to college graduate was remarkable. He has matured into a great husband and proud father and as a friend is tremendously loyal. I was privileged to coach Malcolm and continue to be exceptionally proud of the man he’s become. ”
Bill Curley: “Hucks, is and was a loyal, hardworking, tough, skilled player and person. I think the biggest and best thing about him was that he is dependable and consistent and would bring it every day. He defended the best offensive player from the point to the small forward. No matter how tall. He was a knock down three-point shooter and could get to the rim.”
Thanks to Malcolm, Jim O’Brien, and Bill Curley for their time and input. You can follow Malcolm @Malcolm_Huckaby on Twitter