Charleston Southern is more than halfway through conference play, and senior guard Zach Durkee says their eyes are still on the prize: a Big South championship.
"That's one of our big goals as a team," Durkee said. "Right now, I don't think we are really living up to the expectations we set for ourselves at the start of the season. Even though we are having some trouble, I think we are one or two good games away from really turning the page."
We sat down with Durkee ahead of Saturday's home conference clash with Presbyterian to get to know more about the self-proclaimed health nut.
What would you say your role on the team is?
I think my role is to scout the other teams and get the starters ready to play whoever we have coming up next. I try to learn the other team's offense and simulate their players in our practices.
When did you start playing basketball?
I actually didn't start playing basketball until my freshman year of high school. I had always played baseball, but I got bored with it and tried out for the junior varsity basketball team in ninth grade and just stuck with it from there.
Favorite pro sports team:
Golden State Warriors
Favorite pre-game meal:
Grilled chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes
What is your favorite class?
Secret talent or fact:
I placed second in an open racquetball championship at the age of 13. It was over the summer and I had started playing racquetball two months before when my mom would drop me off at the YMCA. I would play basketball, but then I would get tired of playing and want to do something else. I saw people playing racquetball and decided to give it a try and I ended up being really good at it.
Do you come from an athletic family?
My dad was an All-State soccer player, but my mom didn't play any sports.
Do you have any siblings?
I have three younger siblings, one brother who is 16 and two little sisters that are two and eight.
Does your family get to come see you play?
My family lives in Anderson, South Carolina so they come to see me play a couple of times a year.
What is your spirit animal?
I'm going to go with a puma because it's strong and fast, but not too much of either one.
What is your nickname?
Coach Radebaugh calls me 'Zacher'
Most surprising/embarrassing song on your iPhone:
I don't really keep music on my iPhone, but I have a SoundCloud song from the Magic Mike soundtrack called 'Heaven' by Matt Bomer
Two words to describe you on the court:
Competitive and tough
Two words to describe you off the court:
Funny and caring
Best advice you've ever gotten or your favorite quote:
Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards.
Favorite ice cream flavor:
I actually don't eat ice cream. It's not that I don't like it, I'm just a health nut and I don't eat sweets. After my senior year of high school, I was trying to do whatever I could to get colleges to look at me so I got really into health and trying to eat right.
Do you ever have a cheat day?
Once a month, I will go to Kaminsky's with my girlfriend and indulge in their Tollhouse pie. That's really the only sweet I ever treat myself to.
Mountains or beach?
Favorite sporting moment from your time here at CSU:
My favorite sporting moment was when we won the conference championship in triple overtime at home against High Point my first year here.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
I would like to be a college basketball coach.
Favorite TV show:
How I Met Your Mother
Place you would most like to visit?
I would most like to visit Los Angeles because I've never been there.
Favorite sport to play/watch outside of basketball:
My favorite sport to play outside of basketball is flag football and my favorite sport to watch is college football.
Do you have any superstitions or pre-game rituals?
I'm not a superstitious guy, so I would say I don't have any.
Who is the funniest/goofiest person on the team?
Who is the best singer?
Who is the best dancer?
Who is the team cheerleader?
Who is the most superstitious?
Patrick Wallace (by far!)
What's Coach Radebaugh's 'go-to phrase?'
"You've got to be nastier."
What's the biggest thing you've learned from Coach Radebaugh?
The biggest thing he's taught me is to persevere through the tough times. Under his guidance I've learned, even when things don't play out like you expected or wanted them to, you've got to be able to show up every day and give it your all.
Who is the funniest coach?
How would you describe the other coaches?
All of our coaches are really laid back and very personable. They make it a point to connect with all of us.
If you had to eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Grilled chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes
If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?
I would choose to be able to fly because flights are getting really expensive. Dating a girl from New Jersey, it would be cool to be able to zip up there and save some money.
What are your hobbies outside of basketball?
My friend Patrick and I like to explore restaurants in Charleston. Last summer, we crafted a Charleston 2K16 Food Tour where we looked up the daily food specials of restaurants in the area and just ate all kinds of different food. We toured 25 restaurants last year, so as soon as we have some free time we want to get back into it.
What is your favorite restaurant you've discovered in Charleston?
My favorite restaurant right now is The Vendue because of its rooftop area that overlooks the Harbor.
If you could go back in time, what decade would you travel to?
I would travel to the 1980's because of the music and the style.
What are you going to miss most about being a student-athlete at CSU?
I'm going to miss getting to hang out with my teammates every day. There are so many different personalities in our locker room, and I know I'm going to really miss being around them.
How do you think being a student-athlete at CSU has shaped you for the better?
I think it goes back to the perseverance thing. There is a lot going on in a student-athlete's life. I think that being able to handle a busy schedule and still fulfill your responsibilities as a student and an athlete and to do them well is a valuable thing to master.
What are your goals for yourself personally this season and what are your goals as a team?
My goal is to do all I can to help our team get better and win the conference tournament. As a team, we want to win the Big South Championship with the ultimate goal of making it to the NCAA Tournament. It's been 20 years since CSU has made an NCAA Tournament appearance, so it's a big dream of ours. All we have to do is win three to four games in the conference tournament and we're there.