Throwback Thursday Q&A: Penn State's Joe Crispin

Penn State Athletics

Penn State Athletics

Joe Crispin was a scoring machine throughout his Penn State career (1997-2001). The guard averaged 15.6 points in four seasons, thanks in large part to burying 308 3-pointers (2.4 per game). Currently, Crispin, who played 10 pro seasons, including stints with the NBA’s Suns and Lakers, is retired and runs Crispin Basketball in southern New Jersey. The former Nittany Lion guard has four children, all under the age of 10, and is preparing to get into coaching.

Read BTN.com’s full email Q&A with Crispin.

[ MORE: Previous Q&As: Chris Kramer | Damian Johnson | A.J. Guyton ]

BTN.com: I’m curious, what do you think of when you hear the words “North Carolina?”
Joe Crispin: It may sound crazy, but I really think “great win” more than “upset.” I really expected us to win and I know my teammates shared in that expectation. It was such a blur at the time, but looking back, I realize now how special it was.

BTN.com: Does it feel like 13 years ago?
JC: Actually, it kind of does. I think my whirlwind playing career kind of makes it feel like a long time ago. Add four kids into the mix and a retirement of sorts, and I suppose that is understandable.

BTN.com: What memory from the No. 7-No. 2 upset do you most often go back to?
JC: One of my favorite memories from that game was actually from a timeout. I believe it was the first TV timeout. We were already down by at least seven or so and they looked like they would stomp us. But I knew the tempo of the game was perfect for us, and during the timeout caught the eye of three of our local reporters. I gave them a look and said, “We got this one.” They thought I was crazy, but I am thankful I was right!

BTN.com: If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice as a freshman at Penn State, what would you tell yourself?
JC: “Relax and enjoy.” I was beyond intense. It was a big reason I was successful no doubt, but looking back, I also think it hindered me in many respects. I put pressure on myself to perform and too much of that is usually counter-productive. The longer I played, the more I learned to harness that intensity in a more productive fashion.

BTN.com: Your brother Jon aside, which Penn State teammate(s) do you keep in touch with the most?
JC: Easily, Tyler Smith. He made State College his home throughout his career. I did so during the latter part of my career, but naturally was up there often in the off-season, so we have worked out together often throughout our professional careers. I count him as a great friend.

BTN.com: Do you ever joke with Jon, give him a hard time for transferring to UCLA?
JC: I can’t say we ever really joke about it. Honestly, I don’t think we ever would, because it was a really difficult decision for him. He loved and still loves Penn State.

BTN.com: How about the funniest behind-the-scenes G-rated story you have from your Penn State career?
JC: There are many, but I am honestly terrible at remembering such things. I often joke that I am glad I tell people a lot of my stories soon after they happen, because otherwise I wouldn’t remember them. Maybe one of the few favorites I remember is the time Coach tried unsuccessfully to kick my roommate Scott Witkowsky out of practice. Scott was a big 7-footer and a great guy who didn’t play a whole lot. I think he was having a tough day and coach told him to get out. Scott absolutely refused. I think Coach realized it may have been a tough day (and he loved Scott), not to mention he didn’t want to mess with the big-footer, so he let him stay.

Penn State Athletics

Penn State Athletics

BTN.com: Which Big Ten rival player would you have liked to have as a teammate, and why?
JC: Jokingly: (Indiana’s) Dane Fife, so he wouldn’t handcheck me two full games a year and get away with it. Naturally, Dane will admit to no such thing. (Michigan State’s) Charlie Bell also comes to mind. I would have missed playing against him – he was a great competitor – but Charlie knew how to win as well as anyone and was happy to do whatever was necessary to do so. He also had game. You can’t have enough guys like that on your team.

BTN.com: Every kid pretends to be their hero while playing ball in the driveway/backyard. Who would you pretend to be?
JC: I definitely used my imagination, but it often centered upon me in certain moments. I looked up to Mark Price as a kid (he was a shooting point guard, so why not?), but looking back, I think the hours on the playground imagining myself in certain situations was key in my development.

BTN.com: You made several stops in your pro career – including time with the Suns and Lakers – what was your No. 1 highlight, memory?
JC: I had many great moments. And a few favorite seasons. But if I were to pick one moment, it would probably be in the NBA when I was playing for the Suns. We were in a tight game against Minnesota in overtime and I hit a long-range 3-pointer to put us up three with less than a few minutes to play. I love those final moments, and it was one of my few chances to be in an NBA game when it counted.

OK, let’s fill in the blank…

Having played pro ball all over the world, I recommend everyone visits ____Rome___ before they die.

Former NBA teammates Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant have a ___confusing___ friendship.

If I could play one more game in a Big Ten road arena, it would be __at Indiana___.

And, finally, a couple Twitter questions:

Q: What does Joe think the biggest obstacle is for PSU to become competitive in the Big Ten?
JC: Simple answer: the competition. The Big Ten is one beast of a conference. More nuanced answer: The need to create a clear and consistent program identity. Our highlights haven’t been sustained. I know Coach Chambers is striving for sustained excellence, and I am hopeful he keeps things moving in a positive direction.

Q: Was your favorite game the game you upset #2 Michigan State in the Big 10 tourney?
JC: Yes, because of the venue and drama, but I also look back at our game against Kentucky earlier in the year. Rupp Arena is a special place to play and it was hands-down the best game my brother and I ever played together. To do so in such an environment, can’t help but be tied for top of the list!

About Brent Yarina BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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