Sunday Sit Down: Northeastern's Zach Stahl on Big Dance, RiFF RAFF, more
We’re always trying to learn something more, something different here at the Sunday Sit Down. So for our first postseason edition, we thought it would be fun to get to know someone you’ve probably never heard of from a team with which you’re probably not familiar.
Meet Zach Stahl, a 21-year-old junior for the Northeastern Huskies (23-11), the automatic qualifier out of the Colonial Athletic Association. A 6’5”, 215-pound guard from Chanhassen, Minn., who averages 8.3 points and 5.9 rebounds a game, Stahl is here to make sure you don’t get his Huskies mixed up with anyone else.
SI.com: So you weren’t alive the last time the Huskies went to the NCAA tournament in 1991. Do you think you were even a twinkle in your parents’ eye at that point?
Stahl: Um, I think my parents had met at least? (Laughs). They met in college, but I definitely wasn’t around yet.
SI.com: You guys went 11-21 last year, and then you flip it going 23-11 this season and getting to the tourney. What changed?
Stahl: I think we just communicate a lot better. We lay it out there, what we think of each other. And there’s a better work ethic.
SI.com: You had a big preseason win over Florida State and took St. Mary’s to overtime before losing. What did you learn from those games, and is that when you realized, “Hey, we might be good enough for a run?”
Stahl: I think we kinda always knew we had something special, but that Florida State game was huge, to start the year off with a win like that. That’s the biggest place we’ve played; comparing that stadium to our stadium, there’s a little bit more to see (laughs). But once we got going and started hitting shots, everything kinda fell into place.
SI.com: What do we, the general public, need to know about your team?
Stahl: The team or the school? Because we’re NOT Northwestern. People get that confused a lot. As for our team, just be ready. I think we can shock some people once this tournament gets going.
SI.com: What are your Selection Sunday plans?
Stahl: The school has a big set up for us in our gym, so they’re going to bring a bunch of people in here and we’re gonna watch it together. I think CBS is coming here, too, so we’ll be with all the fans, get pretty hyped about it. Maybe hang out at coach’s house afterward.
SI.com: You’re probably gonna have to sign autographs after the show because now you guys are famous, right?
Stahl: Ha! I don’t know about that.
SI.com: All right, on to the fun questions … Eight seconds left, game on the line. Which current college basketball player do you want taking the big shot? You can’t pick a teammate.
Stahl: Oh, jeez that’s tough. My teammates think I should say myself, but nah. Probably big Frank. If I had to pick someone to take the winning shot, I’d give it to Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin.
SI.com: Who do you want defending the big shot? You also can’t pick a teammate.
Stahl: Willie Cauley-Stein from Kentucky.
SI.com: What one weird or thing do you keep in your backpack or basketball bag?
Stahl: I always have these little chewies in my bag.
SI.com: Who’s your favorite follow on Twitter?
Stahl: Can it be Instagram? RiFF RAFF.
SI.com: Who’s your celebrity crush?
Stahl: If I had to pick one, probably Kendall Jenner.
SI.com: Favorite March Madness memory?
Stahl: Probably N.C. State and that [Lorenzo Charles] tip-in at the end of the game to win it, that was pretty cool to watch. Especially with the 30 for 30 on it afterward.
SI.com: You’re an NBA GM with the first pick in the 2015 draft. Who are you taking and why?
Stahl: Probably [Duke's] Jahlil Okafor, because he’s a good presence down low, and he’s got quite a bit of upside.
SI.com: What’s the dumbest mistake you’ve ever made on a basketball court?
Stahl: Probably fouling a three-point shooter in a game.
SI.com: What is Coach Coen’s favorite phrase or saying to yell in practice?
Stahl: Oh, shoot. He’s right next to me right now. (Turns to Coen.) What’s your favorite thing to yell at us that doesn’t involve swearing? I’m trying to think of a specific thing. He never really yells, and that’s the truth. He gets mad when we turn it over though.
SI.com: So when you guys play in the NCAA tournament, he’ll be the nice and calm coach on the sideline and not screaming at officials?
Stahl: Yeah, he’ll just be sitting down, chilling. I’m kidding!
SI.com: Which venue do you most want to play in?
Stahl: I think playing at Madison Square Garden would be pretty cool.
SI.com: Which teammate would you sing a karaoke duet with, and what’s your song of choice?
Stahl: Definitely [sophomore] Kwesi Abakah. He’s got a great voice. And probably “Bad to the Bone.” That’d be a funny one to sing.