Colorado Week: One-On-One With Shane Harris-TunksPosted by AMurawa on July 25th, 2012
Shane Harris-Tunks came to Colorado in the same 2009 recruiting class that featured 2011 NBA Lottery Pick Alec Burks – and, he was actually more highly regarded than Burks. A true center from Australia, Harris-Tunks got his feet wet as a freshman earning double-digit minutes and earning a handful of starts. But, just prior to the start of the 2010-11 season, he tore his ACL in his left knee and missed the year. He came back last season and again played a part in the CU rotation, but now with big man Austin Dufault lost to graduation, Harris-Tunks has a chance to earn a bigger role for the Buffs. However, he’ll have to fight off incoming freshmen like Josh Scott, Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson for time in the frontcourt. Rush the Court’s Andrew Murawa talked with him yesterday about his time in Boulder and his hopes for the upcoming season.
Andrew Murawa: Let’s start from the beginning. Coming from Australia, how did Colorado wind up with you on their radar and what convinced you that it was the college for you?
Shane Harris-Tunks: I played a lot of international basketball, so I played against a few American teams overseas with the junior Australian team so that went a long way towards getting me on their radar. And then, I guess out of all the schools that recruited me, I came and visited Boulder and loved it. And I was really impressed by the coaching staff that was here at this time [Jeff Bzdelik’s staff], so I wound up signing here at Colorado.
AM: That was the previous staff that recruited you.
AM: How was the transition between coaching staffs?
HST: It was very smooth. The current coaching staff is very good. I have absolutely no complaints about them. I was obviously nervous about it as it was going on. Being from Australia, I’m not all that familiar with the college system, so when that started happening I wasn’t sure where I stood and how that was going to affect me. But once I figured all of that out, it was fine and it has been a really good transition. Coach Boyle has been great for the program.
AM: After getting some solid playing time as a freshman, you tore your ACL just prior to the 2010-11 season. How disappointing was that and what was the recovery process like?
SHT: It was extremely disappointing, because right up until the point where I tore the ligament I was playing some of my best basketball. And then, it was a major setback. And I’m still recovering from it. It takes time. Once you’re cleared to play it still takes time to get ready to go again. But, you know, last year was really good for me. It helped strengthen my knees and I think I’ll come back even stronger this year.
AM: How confident were you in your knee last season?
SHT: It kind of varied. In different games, there were times my legs would be more tired and that would make my knees hurt a little bit more. But most of the time, once you’re out on the court, you’re not even thinking about it. There are too many other things going on.
AM: Last year was the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the Buffs in quite some time. How did it feel to be a part of that, especially with your fans traveling out and giving you a lot of support in Los Angeles and Albuquerque?
SHT: That was just awesome. The difference between my freshman year when we’d be playing in front of five or six thousand people every night and then to have that many travel to see us play now. Just being part of that transition, seeing basketball become something more in Boulder is really a good thing. You can feel the buzz around Boulder. Everyone is excited about basketball and the program is really going to benefit from it.
AM: How much will the experience of getting to the Tournament last season help your team this season?
SHT: Obviously, we’ve got a lot of new guys coming in that weren’t with us then, but the guys that were around, we can share our experiences with them. And the coaches can share their experiences. But, most importantly, it gives us something to live up to now as well. We’ve set the bar high for ourselves and we want to maintain that level and go further.
AM: With Austin Dufault gone, some playing time is ready to open up in the frontcourt, but you’ve also got some freshmen coming in who want a piece of those minutes as well. What do you need to do to earn more playing time? What types of things have you been working on this offseason?
SHT: In the offseason I’ve been working mostly on my body. Trying to slim down a little bit, not muscle but trim down a little fat and get in better shape so I can sustain myself for those minutes. And just be more consistent around the rim and working on my post game, being a presence down there.
AM: Did you learn from Austin in your time there?
SHT: Oh definitely. We learned from each other a lot. We’re very different players – Austin I don’t think would consider himself a five-man. I’m more of a bigger body five-man where he was more of an agile five – more of a four-five. But, just in that I learned a lot from him, like where my weaknesses are defensively because he could expose them a lot more easily than a bigger guy could.
AM: Lastly, what are your expectations for this season, both for yourself and for your team?
SHT: Well, I think we’re going to be a very competitive team. The Pac-12 is going to be stronger this year, so our competition is going to be tougher, but I think we’re up to the challenge. As for me, I just want to do whatever I can to contribute to the team. I’d like to be more of an offensive threat and help Andre out a little bit more on the rebounding.
AM: Okay. Are you on campus now?
SHT: Yes, I’m taking a couple of classes right now.
AM: You’ve got to be closing in on graduation pretty soon.
SHT: Yes, I’m on track to graduate this spring, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, if I’m going to graduate and then start a Masters or suspend my graduation and do a little bit more with my undergrad. Because I graduate in the spring but I still have two years left to play.
AM: Okay man. Thanks for talking with us and good luck this year.
SHT: Thank you.